Jazz Fest 1996 | Steve's #JazzFest review

Steve's 1996 Jazz Fest

Back in Miami the Jazz Fest started about two weeks before the actual fest. My buddy Joe had a crawfish boil in his backyard. I don't remember too much of the party, it was when I broke my wrist and I spent most of the time looking at the swelling or walking around telling everyone that it's broken.

Keeping festivities going the following weekend, Buckwheat Zydeco came in town. A big group of us who were fest bound gathered. Now this isn't an act I'd go catch in New Orleans but down in the parched clubs of South Florida, I support as much Louisiana music as I can.

It's Thursday, April 25, the day we leave for da fest! I was ready. I'm always ready. Whatever you forget, just get at the Schwegmann's. I had good intentions of keeping better notes of restaurants and clubs that I hit during the eleven-day journey. When we stopped for the cooler and essentials, I even picked up a notepad. A good start.

First stop in town, Ugliches. A group of ten of us for lunch. If you've never been there, you're missing a great lunch spot. They close before dark because it's a bad neighborhood. We had a brief wait, then our orders were taken. I was sized up for a Uggie Shrimp special.. the man refused to describe it, just said to trust him. I trusted him, it was good. If it was described, I wouldn't have ordered it. Shrimp and potatoes. I was counting on a nice shrimp or oyster poboy, but that comes later.

After lunch we went over to the French Quarter where ReBirth was doing their annual street party in front of some gallery. They sounded great. The now traditional First Thursday night dinner at Coops was next. Some great fried chicken and rabbit jambalya. Yummmmmm.

Remember those well-laid plans of keeping notes that I proudly wrote about? I never did get around to writing anything down. So whatever I write here is strictly from memory, however blurred it may be. We did hit Kemp's for the ReBirth show on Thursday night. The best ReBirth show I ever saw! They were smoking hot!

On Friday, Alan hooked us up with tickets to the Neville Brothers at House of Blues. First time actually staying for a show there. For some reason I've never stuck around to see any music in the club before.

Unfortunately the band makes their money from Aaron. Aaron brings the crowd. The crowd is lame. They spotlight Aaron way too much. We hang out backstage for the whole show.

The House of Blues gets my vote for best air conditioning.

The rest of my trip is pretty mixed . . . a LOT of music, a LOT of food . . . I met a whole lot of people whom I've written with from da Internet too! At Les Bon Temps and other places around town. Cool stuff.

Even the Phish show out at the Fair Grounds was great! I just hope the Phish heads were opened up to a whole lot of new styles of music and didn't race around looking for the next Groove Band. How many times can you see the Radiators or Michael Ray? Can you spell Ho Na Nae?

The biggest surprise for me this year was having a few people come up to me and tell me there is another Pet De Kat Krewe at the fest. We tracked down "Lucky." He's a guy from New Orleans who saw the Pet De Kat Krewe page online and liked it so much he made his own version . . . including a flag at the 3/8th mark on Ray Ban and pins too. I made friends with him, convinced him I wasn't going to sue him for copyright infringements, in fact I gave him OUR pins and stickers to add to his collection!

Biggest disaster at Fair Grounds? The House of Pain (or House of Blues/Dr. Martin) stage. It's outgrown the current configuration. They gotta push it over toward economy hall and shift it to an angle facing the Gospel Tent. Now I'm not sure if it'd work out with the sound bleeding into the tents, but it seems like a "quick fix" to the overcrowding and sound problems there.

Biggest disappointment (musical) Van Morrison. It had that too mellow curse. I was part of the thousands who left the stage.

Best new group I heard? Dave Matthews! Great stuff!

Best night shows? Meters at House of Blues (comp. tickets, backstage). Great show, great visibility, lots of room "behind the felt ropes." Dr. John at Tipitina's. If I heard about the Full Moon thing one more time, I was gonna shoot a moon. Really good show, but Tips gotta do something to catch up to House of Blues and Howlin' Wolf as far as Sound Systems and visibility goes. If you aren't up front at Tips, it's really hard to get a good spot to see the show.

Speaking of Howlin' Wolf. Totally redid their sound. Excellent. And they've added a second level, similar to Tips. It wasn't open when I was there, but it looks like the next club to explode.

I Can't wait for next year. I heard they're adding a 4th day to first weekend and bringing free Kentwood water back.