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Veritable Feast of Festivals!
there I was, on the road again. Dear GOD, how I do love to be on the road.
Sometimes it’s a Willie Nelson trip, and sometimes more like Bob
Seger’s “Turn the Page”. But always Magic, if only I have the presence
of mind to tune
in and not let it pass me by.
This was not a
big-deal trip. New Orleans to Jackson, MS. Quick trip, personal errands to attend to, made it hundreds of
times. But you know
WAS a big deal, because it was total pleasure – all the way up,
So, what does
this have to do with festivals, you may well be wondering.
It went like this. I
left on Friday morning, turned onto I-55 North, as fate would have it,
just in time to hear the opening of the 2001
broadcast live by
WWOZ, best darned radio station in the whole darned Universe, the New
Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station, 90.7 on your FM
dial… Phenomenal. Both the music and the commentary. Incredible.
put together a tape covering the origin and history of the
I hope will be made available to the public. For a fee,
of course. OZ
is a listener-supported station, a labor of love,
by volunteers. Many
of the DJ’s are local musicians, and all are totally knowledgeable about
the genre featured on their shows. Ya
love it… (As I write, I’m listening to the infamous Ko Ko
belting them out at the Jazzfest as only she can!)
As I was saying,
about the origin and history of the Jazzfest. The gentle-
man being interviewed on Friday morning recalled one of
the most magical, spontaneous musical moments of his life.
Early on the Jazzfest was much smaller, of course, and was held in
Congo Square rather than its current location at the Fairgrounds. This particular year, among the featured
(are you ready
for this?): Ella Fitzgerald,
Duke Ellington, Mahalia Jackson. Yep. Just a little New Orleans jazz festival. The day was ending,
New Orleans brass marching band came marching in. Then
someone handed Duke Ellington an umbrella so that he could do his
thing with the brass band, New Orleans style.
At that point, the band broke into “Just a Closer Walk with
Thee”. Which meant, of
course, that Mahalia Jackson
(who hails from New Orleans, by the way)
broke into song. Awesome.
A moment etched indelibly on the brain of everyone present.
wouldn’t I give…
One thing about
WWOZ, it doesn’t have a very strong signal. Sometimes
I even have trouble picking it up at home, depending on
Right around Hammond, LA there is usually
enough interference to
prompt me to move on to another famous New Orleans
Rock of New Orleans." Always
was, always will be. WRNO,
And were they rocking, or what??? Yes indeed. Have mercy!
Top, the Stones, you name it. And
they were advertising not only
the Jazzfest, but also Memphis in May, the
Beale Street Music Festival. Memphis. Rollin’ on the River too, just 400 miles or so further upstream. Next weekend, May 4, 5 and 6, Memphis will honor its
with some pretty darned impressive music. Not only will the Dave Mat-
thews Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George
Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic
Blues Traveler be present,
but (hang onto your hats, y’all) but none
other than Bob Dylan and
Willie Nelson. Okay?
What else can I say?
really do NOT comprehend is the scheduling this year. Normally, there is
not a conflict between the Jazzfest in New
Orleans and the Beale Street
Music Festival. A lot of people are sorely disappointed this year.
problem, you may be thinking. So just go to the first weekend of the
Jazzfest and Beale Street
the next weekend. But what if
you have your
heart set on hearing the Jazzfest’s headliner this year,
Paul Simon? Who
for the second weekend. C'est la vie...
thinking, well sure, New Orleans, Memphis.
Certainly they have
the pull, the clout, the wherewithal to draw
the likes of Willie and Bob.
if I told you that Willie Nelson would be headlining the Jubilee Jam
in Jackson, MS on May
MS?!?! Yep. Sho nuff, y’all.
Jam is cool, anyway. It’s
an annual event during which Capitol
Street - downtown Jackson’s main
drag - is closed off all weekend long
for the party, and I DO mean party. Great music, even when played by
groups with names as yet
unfamiliar to you, food, food, and more food,
lotsa suds, arts, crafts. Fun. Mega. Southerners KNOW how to party, y’all. Trust me…
I’m still driving along I-55 North, right, and am now losing WRNO’s
powerful signal, right around McComb. Pike County, MS. And
quite far enough north yet to pick up my second favorite radio
the whole darned Universe, “Z106,
playing The Best Classic Rock”.
And believe me, they do. I
can always count on some Stones, probably
Led Zep, Joe Cocker, Jimmy
Hendrix, maybe even Janis herself. I
it! After 15 minutes of
so of a really decent country station, I’m able to
pick up Z106.
And find that they are touting Z Fest 2001, featuring
Skynyrd and Drivin’ and Cryin’. Lynyrd
Skynyrd fans must be ecstatic, huh? Twice
is one weekend, only 200 miles apart. Like, wow!
Are you wondering by now just when I’m
going to get to the FOOD?
is, after all, La Belle CUISINE, no? Mais
are synonymous, are they not? Certainly in my experience. Well,
right now? First of
all, back to Memphis. Please
allow me to
bring to your attention to:
The Superbowl of
Where the big pigs
come to play!
Or you could just call it the World
Championship Barbecue Cooking
Contest, scheduled for May 17, 18 and 19,
2001. It’s advertised as
Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and one bodacious party all rolled into one.
Well, prejudiced toward all things New Orleanian as I am, I don’t
about comparing it to Mardi Gras. Sheesh! But I’ll
have to say Amen to
the bodacious party. That it is. If you’re into barbecue at all, this one’s
And if you’re a barbecue fanatic, head for Memphis.
your sleeves, throw caution to the winds, and prepare to
For real. OINK!!!!!
Ribs with Back Bay Sauce
Texas Beef Brisket
Goldberg's Big Bad Ass Beef Ribs
Porterhouse Steaks with Sexy Barbecue Sauce
On my way out of Jackson today, I decided
to swing by Smith Park and check out the 2001 International Crawfish
Festival. AIIIYEEE!!! Another party, y’all, I gare-own-tee! Spicy mudbugs and suds. Ohmigod!
Pinch the tail, suck the head — that's about the only way to eat them. I used to have
a T-shirt that shouted in large,
fire-engine-red letters, “Do you suck heads?”
Some people were offended…
I had a chat with Bill Bissell, the
festival’s promoter, who let me in on
the secret behind the success of
the event. “Crawfish is
with music and libation.” Amen, brother! Hot crawfish, cold beer, sweet
snow cones (16 flavors!), live
music. Plus Polish Sausage
Philadelphia Steak on a Stick and all manner of other yummy
How much better does it get in Jackson, MS??? Bill
– who by the way,
is a very friendly, accommodating guy – added,
“You can wipe your
mouth on your sleeve and wash the crawfish down with
a cold beer.
That’s kind of
what I do…” Let’s hear
another amen for Brother Bill!
Prudhomme's Crawfish Enchiladas con Queso
One of the featured bands today was a
“fun band” called Key West.
play (yeah, you guessed it) Jimmy-Buffett-type music. Can y’all
even BELIEVE that I actually got back into my car and
drove to New
Orleans before the last head had been sucked, the kegs were
the clean-up crews arrived? Hard to leave. But
then again, it’s never
really difficult for me to head south on I-55.
New Orleans, land of dreamy dreams, city of my heart…
As I crossed the Louisiana state line, my
heart skipped a beat, just as it
always does. Bienvenue in Louisiane. Love
it. We took a short break at
the Louisiana Welcome Center, my SophieDog
and I, where it was my
great pleasure to chat a bit with two charming
British lads who were
headed for the Jazzfest.
Looking for directions. And
tips. I was only
too happy to
oblige them. Their eagerness was clearly visible, just as
was contagious. As well it
should have been. Apparently
typical British aloof nonchalance doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance
under the spell of the New Orleans Jazzfest!
Headed home. If you’re going to make good time between Jackson and
Orleans, it had best be between Hazlehurst and Hammond. Otherwise
there’s too much traffic. Approaching Hammond, LA, where I-55 intersects
I-12, I begin to
get that almost-home feeling. Won’t
be long now. Shortly
you pass the Ponchatoula exit, you’ll be on a bridge. Not a bridge over
a large body of
water, but a bridge over swampland, bayous.
A looooong bridge, going all the way to the end of I-55, some
30 miles or so. When
you get to
Manchac, you’re really in bayou country. Home. At last. St.
John the Baptist Parish. This is where my heartbeat really
kicks up its
pace. The vast expanse of water on your
right will be Lake Maurepas.
your left, but not quite visible, is Lake Pontchartrain. A great lake,
with the renowned 26-mile Causeway Bridge connecting Metairie, LA
“north shore”. Mandeville,
Covington, Abita Springs. But that’s
Next weekend Funky Liza will absorb every possible detail
New Orleans Jazzfest and give you the full report, including lots
of food. Okay?
it for today…..enjoy! And don't forget...live with Passion!
seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,
mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think
of one without
the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I
am really writing about
love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the
of it and the hunger for it…
and then the warmth and richness and
fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it
is all one."
~ M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
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