Saturday, October 30, 2010
Crescent City Blues & BBQ Fest
Crescent City Blues and BBQ fest in New Orleans, now in its fifth year, was a new fest for us this year. Held in mid October, it comes about a month after festival season wraps up in the Northeast giving us one last blast of summer music fun. The free festival is held in Lafayette Square park in the Central Business District of New Orleans, the same place where they hold weekly free concerts in the spring and fall (we usually catch Marcia Ball there on the Wednesday between jazzfest weekends.) Several hotels are close by, including the one we stayed at,so we could just walk there - it was so close it was almost like camping at a fest. With two stages scheduled, I was wondering how they were going to pull it off in this small park, but not to worry, the sets alternated so there was no down time between sets. We were camped out somewhere in the middle with a large group of friends so all we had to do was turn around after each set to catch the next one. And for most sets, it was easy enough to get up close when you wanted to.
Saturday started out with Honey Island Swamp Band (with an expanded horn section inclucing Derek Huston on Sax. Luther Kent put on a great show with a 10-piece band,and Anders Osborne with Stanton Moore trio was a highlight for me on Saturday. Taj Mahal closed out the fest Saturday - By the time he took the stage the crowd had swelled to maybe 3x the size... most of the other acts were New Orleans based so probalby a lot of locals came out later since they get to see the other artists all the time. But to us the whole fest was like an all star line up.
Sunday's lineup was ruled by women. Shannon McNally and Hot Sauce was a new discovery for me - I has never seen her with her full band, they have that kind of North Miss. ALlstars groove, and she has a strong voice. Barbara Lynn is an older blues guitarist/singer with lots of soul, she was another one I had never seen before. She rocks! Ruthie Foster closed out Sunday with a very strong performance, again, another one I had not seen with a full band, but her voice is so powerful it was electrifying. Jon Cleary and Mem Shannon were also very good, but somehow I missed Wolfman Washington w/Joe Krown - I must have been walkng around looking at crafts, or maybe stuck my head in the onsite sports bar they had set up under a tent , where Joe was watching the Saints game with a crowd of very enthused fans. THe crowd at the music fest was noticeably lighter on Sunday, and many more people came out after the game was over.
Several varieties of Abita beer were offered for sale, along with a full bar offering mixed drinks. Just as the music was not strictly "blues", the food was not strictly "barbecue",and along with the expected Ribs & Bbq chicken the menu included BBQ shrimp from Emeril's Delmonico restaurant,some Vietnamese and Jamaican fare, and the much drooled over Cochon De Lait po-boy sandwich, same as those served at Jazzfest. This more eclectic mix was expected, since The festival is presented by The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the same organization that helps to present the Jazz Festival that takes place every April/May, which as anyone who goes to that knows is not strictly Jazz by any means. The lineup reminded me of a really good day in the blues tent at Jazzfest, but with a much cooler atmosphere, minus the crowded feel, heat and rules that are part of that particular venue at Jazzfest. This was just a perfect festival this year - the weather, the lineup ,the setting - everything just fell into place. ANd because it is not so intense as Jazzfest, we had time to enjoy other things about New Orleans that we sometimes miss during the big Jazzfest, like go out to a some restaurants and clubs wihtout the huge crowds. I would definitely go back for it again.
this pic was taken during Ruthie Foster
and here's a link to some of my other
photos from this fest.