Sunday, May 24, 2009


I was walking with my Precious Daughter to Bayou Boogaloo yesterday when we came upon this sign on Ursulines and North Rendon.

It was a beautiful day for music by the bayou. This year's Boogaloo expanded to the south with a second stage. The result was twice the music and more room for the throngs to spread out to enjoy it.

I immediately liked Billy Iuso & the Restless Natives--and not just because they covered a Talking Heads song. They put out a powerful blues-rock-funk groove through a light-hearted set of infectious joy. At one point, the band celebrated moving into a new house in the 9th Ward Musician's Village by belting out a rocked out version of "Moving On Up," the popular theme of "The Jeffersons" television show.

We also checked out the Charmaine Neville Band, and even Precious Daughter confessed to liking her version of "Papa was a Rolling Stone." Charmaine sang the refrain true to the original style of The Temptations' recording, while her son filled in the verses with new and scorching rap.

The catch of the day, however, was Groovesect, a band I confess I had not even heard of until Saturday. Groovesect charmed the eclectic crowd with intricate rhythms and skillful musicianship. The songs were tight and entertaining, and succeeded in spreading groove to all. I will be watching the local listing to catch Groovesect again.

Bayou Boogaloo has earned a reputation for being the mini-Jazz Fest for the locals. This year's event, bigger than ever, did not disappoint. As we walked home at dusk, I wondered what it would be like if everyone in America could have a day of boogaloo.

Imagine, indeed!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

I saw Bonerama at Jazz Fest and I wrote this Haiku

Music washes down
Over a sea of faces
Mixing sweat and tears

Sometimes New Orleans is a complicated place.

How can you explain to someone outside of New Orleans why we laugh at tourists who cannot pronounce "beignets" and then revel in the way we knowingly and obstinately mispronounce "Calliope" Street?

Is it the desire to keep close hold on membership to our special club? Or simply our way of keeping close the history of this almost 300-year-old city? Is it an overt gesture of bohemian style which we think sets us grandly apart from the rest of the US? Or is it a stubborn embrace of the bad habits handed down by our uneducated fathers and mothers?

Yes, it's complicated.

But sometimes New Orleans is simple, forthright, and blindingly obvious.

Like Jazz Fest.

You go, you hear music, and you have a beer--with about a hundred thousand other people.

You sweat, you smile, and you commune with humanity.