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New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011 - Damn – I Blinked
Written By: Tish Michel
*Click images below to view larger versions.
New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011 - Damn – I Blinked
Linda (video photographer) and Louisana Music Factory owner Barry
New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011 - Damn – I Blinked
Angie and hubby enjoying Cajun music first weekend at Jazz Fest.
New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011 - Damn – I Blinked
My boss, Princess Camerian - the Faerie Princess of New Orleans.
New Orleans Jazz Fest 2011 - Damn – I Blinked
Face painter Sally and me the last day of Jazz Fest.
    Seems like I just got to the Big Easy and (at the time of writing this article) it’s Monday, May 9 and Jazz Fest ’11 is now history. Yes folks – this was as good as it gets. Huge crowds flock to Jazz Fest from down the block to all over the world come rain or shine. I’ve been to oh so many Fests over the years and have volunteered each year since Katrina and this is the only time I recall that it didn’t rain once and several unusual cold fronts kept the heat down to a pleasant level.
    The Fest runs for 7 days and includes the last weekend of April and Thursday through Sunday the first weekend of May. I got up each morning at 5:30 to make the 6:27 bus that picked me up on Rampart Street, went down Esplanade and dropped me off a block shy of the Mystery Street gates where the so friendly security lady would wave when she saw me coming and call, “got ya Tish – mornin” as she checked me off the long list of volunteers permitted to enter at that hour. I just had to give her a huge hug yesterday ‘cause she always started my day off right before I even entered the Fairground gates.
    I worked two different jobs this year and have included pics of my staff supervisors. I always volunteer for the early jobs so I don’t miss any of the music which starts at 11am.  Angie has been in charge of us traffic directors for years. We direct the vendor traffic in the morning so they can set up and then get their vehicles off the grounds before attendees are permitted to enter. Take a look at Angie and her hubby sitting against the fence at the Fais Do-Do stage. On close inspection you may notice that he has a red bean at the end of his cute goatee. Ya see lots of interesting sites at the Fest, baby! One can most often find them there catching the best Cajon music in the world.  I’m sad to report that Angie was hit by a truck last week crossing the street near the Jazz & Heritage Foundation Camp Street office. It was day light and Angie correctly crossed with the light, but the driver was distracted and didn’t see her. She lost a tooth and has lots of bumps and bruises and had to miss the second weekend. She’s a very dear lady and all of us who have worked with her over the years hope she’ll make a complete and speedy recovery and look forward to working with her next year. Yes, my friends, treasure each moment!
    My other job was to work at the Congo Square info booth and provide breakfast to the craft vendors in that area of the Fest. Oh my, have I made some wonderful new friends.  Take a look at my supervisor for this job.  Princess Camerian (the Faerie Princess of New Orleans) is as charming and delightful as she looks and was a joy to work with as I cut up a boat load of mangos and pineapples. The other picture is of fellow volunteer Sally Edelman and me. Turns out Sally and I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University just a few years apart. You just might guess from looking at the pair of us that she was in the art school.  Each day I worked with Sally, she’d look at what I was wearing and continue the array of colors down my arm. What a small world – I worked at this job with three other young people from Maryland. You too may want to volunteer next year; it’s loads of fun, you can deduct the cost of your trip on your taxes and it really helps the marvelous folks at the Jazz and Heritage Foundation!
    This is a short article this week as I’m going to a fabulous brunch prepared under the guidance of John Besh (one of the most renowned chefs here) with Sally and her gent Richard. Then I’ll most likely run into OC’s Maurine and Chuck as I do each Jazz Fest at the Louisiana Music Factory (LAMF).  This is the best record store I’ve ever seen and has around 40 live in-store performances during Jazz Fest time, and live shows year-round on weekends. The store is on Decatur Street across from the House of Blues. This place is like an historical museum for New Orleans music and culture. Check them out online at www.louisanamusicfactory.com for books, cds, live recordings of store shows and great pictures. Today I’ll be sure to see Spencer Boren, Paul Sanchez (a favorite performer I discovered at LAMF after Katrina), Bob French Band and Panorama Brass Band. Then I’ll do my usual last night in N’walins and see dear friend Charmaine Neville’s show at Snug Harbor with French musicians from a band called Fidgety Feet. What can I say, it’s tradition – these delightful musicians from France and I always bid farewell to this beloved city by seeing one of her finest ambassadors. We’ll see how many of Charmaine’s famous family members show up tonight to join in for a song or two.
    Next week I’ll write more about some of the 70 or more great acts (out of several hundred awesome choices) I saw at Jazz Fest including the final Jazz Fest performance by the Radiators who are disbanding after 33 years in just a few weeks. They and the Neville Brothers always close Jazz Fest at the two largest stages at opposite ends of the fairgrounds.  Ta Ta till later, y’all!
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