The festival has 2 stages, one in the wooded amphitheater, and another under a tent adjacent to the main pavilion which houses a snack bar and rec center, with lots of picnic tables from which to watch the music, so you don't have to carry your chair over (although you may). Beyond the rec center is a pool complex with 3 swimming pools and 2 hot tubs, so this is where we headed between bands, which alternate from one stage to the next. There is usually only a 15-20 minute break , but you can hear the music from the pool. I just kept my bathing suit on with a sarong or sun-dress on for the whole festival. The water was freezing cold (the air temperature had been in the 50's during the week, only warming up on Saturday) but provided a much needed refresher once I finally got in. However the sounds of Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys coming from rec center lured me back out. It is hard to see the band unless you are dancing on the large wooden dance floor under the tent, which was no problem.
The lineup I printed out a couple weeks in advance had the Radiators slated for two 1-hour sets, one at noon (!), and one at 6 pm following a scheduled one-hour dinner break (when they traditionally allow evening only attendees to come in for a lower price). But they wisely shifted around the schedule to allow the Rads one 2-hour set from 5-7 with no dinner break. From the pool area, we could hear them starting up, so we made our way back over to the amphitheater.
All these years of following New Orleans music, I have not seen the Radiators as much as you might think, only about a half-dozen times or so, including last weekend's Crawfish Fest, last year's midweek party during Jazzfest and a couple times at Rhythm and Roots and maybe one or two other festivals. In other words, it has always been at an event where there is a lot going on, or lots of people to talk to. This set at Strawberry Park was the first time I was able to focus on the music and get pretty close. I had thought they would be like a fish out of water at this festival, which was attended by more zydeco dancers than Fish Heads. But the dancers, who never stopped, seemed to enjoy the different style and kept grooving throughout the set. Looking around at the crowd, and the Radiators themselves, the song "Never Let your Fire Go Out" was an apt anthem.
The Pine Leaf Boys played after them under the Rec Center tent, with guest accordionist Jesse Lege on a few songs. Then, everyone who must have been hanging out at their campsites or at the pool emerged and packed the dance floor for the last set of the night, by the ever popular Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie.
Sunday brunch at the Strawberry Grill snack bar featured a "Cajun Omelet" filled with shrimp & sausage in a tomato based creole sauce. Well, it was Italian sausage but isn't that the Cajun way? Use what's available! It was pretty good, especially accompanied by BYO Bloody Mary's. Then right back on the dance floor for Jesse Lege & Bayou Brew, followed by Corey Ledet in the amphitheater. It was still really hot, so more pool time was in order before watching
Beausoleil, who played a beautiful set featuring more waltzes and instrumental numbers, (including one of my old favorites, Dimanche Apres Midi) instead of non stop raucous dance music. Not to say they there wasn't dancing, just at a more relaxed pace, and most dancers tried to stay in the shade.
Chris Ardoin ended up the day with his style of R&B tinged zydeco, ending just as a perfectly timed thunder storm rolled in, bringing relief to the heat.
More pictures from Strawberry Park