Last weekend Karla and I loaded into Lola and headed down to NOLA for Jazz Fest. I can’t believe I haven’t been going my entire life, and I definitely plan to make it an annual event. You all need to come with me. It’s amazing. (Next year, though, I may schedule more time off so I’m not driving down and coming back on days I see concerts.) The people watching alone makes it worth the trip, and the food is incredible, but the music…OH MY GOODNESS!!! I came home with favorite bands that I’d never heard of a week ago.
Here are some of the things I learned at Jazz Fest…
- Jazz Fest isn’t about who you hear – it’s about who you miss. I saw Buddy Guy, Ellis Marsalis, Preservation Hall, Bon Jovi and about a dozen others, but that meant missing Neil Young, Dr. John, Kings of Leon…
- Popular names may be happening on the stages, but the music that’ll change your life happens in the tents. The Jazz tent is filled with the most creative, inventive and freakishly talented musicians; the Blues tent has musicians performing with every molecule in their bodies; the Economy Hall tent, well, it’s the best people watching you’ll find anywhere.
- The main field is full of flags/windsocks/randomness on super long flagpoles. They’re marking people’s territory, but they make great markers for everyone trying to find their friends in the field. (Karla claimed our spot between the checkered flag and the dragonfly.)
- The food is incredible, but I should have taken more friends so I could sample more stuff. Trying something different for every meal and snack, I’d still need 20 days to try all the culinary treats at Jazz Fest. The food alone is worth the trip.
- People with parasols are serious about their circle line (which is a dance, FYI). If you’re willing to learn, they’re willing to teach you, but if you’re going to mock, those octogenarians will knock you out.
- If you’re friendly, people you don’t know will watch your stuff and save your seat while you go to get food or run to the bathroom. If you’re really nice, when you watch other people’s stuff they may just come back with a tasty beverage or a sweet potato pie to share with you.
- Get your seat early…really early. If you want to get good pictures and make good friends, you need to be in the front. Unless you’re freakishly lucky, that means getting there early, which may mean sitting through an act or two of someone you’ve never heard of – you won’t be disappointed.
- There are NO bad acts at Jazz Fest. Everyone there comes with their “A” game.
- Even musicians who aren’t performing attend fest, so keep your eyes peeled.
- Post Fest? Bourbon Street is for debauchery, but real music happens on Frenchmen Street. It’s at the far east end of the French Quarter, and the nightlife will blow your mind.