Dave West's (aka da ve) First JazzFest

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IT all started when Gerry said "hey da ve... want to go to New Orleans for a party with the Radiators???"

now, i had never been to New Orleans before, but since Ger had gotten me hooked on the Radz a few years ago, i've tried to take advantage every opportunity to catch 'em when they come through New England... but, all the way to New Orleans????

"oh, by the way, it's the same weekend as the Jazz Fest..."

now, i'd heard about Jazz Fest from from a number of my friends, including my Buddy Bruce, who described his trips to "da Fest" as "incredible music ooozing out of every pore in the city for days..." this i had to see for myself... and a SNAFU bash with the Rads cinched it...

"sure... why not? we haven't done anything silly, foolish, and fiscally irresponsible in a long time... book the flights! i'll go!"

flights booked, accomodations taken care of, the sights now turned to learning about this new event and destination... the web, as it often does, turned out to be an invaluable source of information regarding things Fest-ive, and during the course of explorations there, we stumbled across the web site of the Pet de Kat Krewe... Ger was actually the first to find it... he sent me the URL with the advice "check this out... they sound like us!" reading through the site i found stories of rabid fans of live music, legends, myths, rituals, and tales of indulgences rivalled only by personal experiences and i thought "yeah, these do sound like our kind of people..."

little did i know... :-)



as the day approached, the countdown clock at www.petdekat.com added to the growing excitement, and the conversations of the chat board helped add to the building musical frenzy.... "you HAVE to check out Marcia Ball!!!" "Has the schedule been posted?" "who's coming to the show at the Rock 'n Bowl on Friday??" yes, it was really happening... a new city, a new experience... finally, it was time to leave...

mechanical problems with the plane kept us in Atlanta for quite some time... we took it as a sign from the great Guardian Bozo that we were intended to stay in the airport lounge and drink heavily to prepared our bodily organs for the abuse they would soon encounter... turned out to be a wise choice, as there we met with other NOLA-bound festers, in similar states of elevated spirits... properly lubricated in the event of a rather abrupt landing (it always bothers me to see the mechanic staring at the engine scratching his head... how about you?) we poured ourselves onto the plane for the last leg of the journey...

we landed in New Orleans to a beautiful evening... a quick adventure in a cab and a little walking around and we found our new home for the next few days... an old mansion converted into a guest house on the edge of the Garden District... a quick walk through the neighborhood and something to eat and it was time to turn in and see what the next day would bring...



the first full day invloved a walking tour of the garden district... if ever a neighborhood aptly named, it was this neighborhood... beautiful homes with flowering gardens... historic old houses, the smell of the flowers, the old cemetaries... very heady stuff... after roaming through the district for a while we hopped a streetcar and headed down to the quarter to roam around there... a few blues bands in the afternoon, a sacrificial hurricane (or two... well, maybe three) and it was back to the hotel to get ready for the first big event--SNAFU!!!



we got out of our cab at Tipitina's to be greeted by the blare of a brass band... as we stepped out onto the pavement, the band the growing second line paraded passed us... "talk about a welcome! take out booze and a parade to boot!!" that was a harbinger of fest-ivity (tm) if ever there was one... :-) joining in the second line, we paraded into the club (after a quick ticket check)... sportin' my Pet de Kat t-shirt, i soon made the acquaintance of several other Krewe members who, as it turned out, were the like minded souls i envisioned them to be! Stephanie led me to Wendy, who in turn introduced me to Alan, whom i had exchanged a few e-mails with prior to heading down... little did i know that this would be only the first of many such encounters over the next few days... :-)

but then, the Rads... from the moment the band was introduced and the balloons began to fall, the road of the afterburners pulling us out of the earths gravitational pull were all that the senses could record... as the ground fell away and we ascended to space, our ship took on the radioactive qualities we had come to know and love!!!! a pleasant feeling of calm amidst the excitement!!! we were truly here... it was really happening...

true to form the Radiators put on an incredible show and the party was such that would do the city proud... in a town known for parties and fest-ivity, this night had to stand out by anyone's standards... another parade complete with the big chief at set break reminded us from whence we launched, and set two was a pleasant spin round the globe before returning safely to earth... spaceship Tip has served us well, and the smilin' cap'n Fess beamin down at us from the rafters was well pleased...

Friday brought the first day at the Fest for us... and lo and behold, soon after entering the grounds, we run into Alan again, joyfully expounding on the pleasures to be found at the end of the short food lines... THAT FOOD!!!!!! did anyone lose about 5 pounds that weekend??? i seem to have found them... :-) such culinary delights i would not have expected to be handed to me from a tent/concession stand!!! peppers stuffed with crawfsih... crawfish bread... crawfish monica... alligator pie... muffalettas... oyster po-boys... if i didn't know better i would have thought this to be a food fest! but the music on the gentle breeze told another story...

to try and list all the performers we saw, in the clubs, on the streets, and everyplace we went seemingly, would be an exercise in futility... a few stand outs however, do, well, stand out... Marcia Ball, for instance... caught the end of her show and all i can say is this woman cooks!!!! she had the whole joint jumping and eating out of the palm of her hand! next time i'm presented an opportunity to see her, i will be EARLY!!! the Congo Sq stage played host to a number of afric-oriented music (for want of a better term) while was there... not sure what to call it because every time i went back there was something a little different that didn't seem to fit into any mold... i did particularly enjoy T Roy however... the Fais Do Do stage is the place to go for a taste of that old style cajun foot stompin' though... DL Menard has got to be one of the best at his craft... the House of Blues stage had a number of interesting performers as well, but the only one we watched for long was Coco Robichaud... the Lagniappe Tent also had some nice stuff, in particular a gent by the name of Rankin (i believe... John maybe? those dratted brain cells!!!) on sunday Bruce Hornsby and later, Widespread Panic put on memorable performances as well... and it was the good ol' Radiators who put it all to bed with a wonderful closing performance that provided an incteresting counter point to the intimate night of music at Tipitina's earlier in the week...

there is so much to see and do at the Fest!!! fortunately for me, i had the good luck to repeatedly run into my new Fest-guru Alan numerous times during each fest day... he would quickly relay what was cool that he'd just come from, and what he was on his way to... :-) one of the more interesting occurences that he steered us to was a wedding!!! the bride groom were not known to me, but, from the "it's a small world department" it turns out that they were friends of some folks i know from NYC and we ran into some old friends again in this new place!!! due to their haste to get out of the way when it was bouquet tossing i ended up "catching" it myself!! yet another historic first... :-)



and no story of fun and decadence in New Orleans would be complete without a tale of Bourbon St and the French Quarter... due to considerable work at alcohol management, i was able to maintain a pleasant elevation without the unpleasant side effects for many days... a remakable feat when one considers the amount of revelry taking place at such times as the Pet De Kat Krewe meeting at Liuzza's on friday night!!! Krewe members from Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, California, Massachusetts, and other points distant combined to create an air of fest-ivity not found often on this planet!!! nice to meet and party with you all!!! but partying in the quarter on saturday night would have been my undoing had it not been for a pair of blessed events that put a stop to the merry making... what two events??? closin' time and sunrise... :-) (ok, everyone who was reading along nervously to see what gruesome details would be revealed may relax now... you're secrets are once again safe)

my first fest experience... started with the Radiators, ended with the Radiators, and was punctuated throughout by good times and good friends!!! Gerry, thank you for the great idea and inspiration to make the trip! Alan, Steve, Wendy, Bonnie, George, MONSTRR, Cajun Angel, Stephanie, and all the other various and sundry Krewe members who added to the fest-ive atmostphere, the pleasure was all mine... i can see now why this has become an annual pilgrimmage!

see y'all next time!!!! Laissez les bontemps rolez!!!!!!

da ve

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