Arguably, our entire adventure, which started in November, has been a detour and frolic from our regular life. But we’ve detoured from our cruise – in its waning days – to laissez a little bon temps roulez. Committed as I am to attending the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (or, Jazz Fest) every year, those travel arrangements were made well in advance. And certainly before we even had an inkling that we would be somewhere on the ICW when that date arrived.
It’s been cold and blustery in the Carolinas, but it’s spring in New Orleans!
So, we left Calypso in Morehead City, North Carolina, and rented a car.
The view from the docks at Morehead City Yacht Basin.
We spent a few hours exploring Beaufort (that’s pronounced “Bow-fort,” Rick), stopped in Richmond to visit my sister and her family, then arrived at home.
I’m sure you’re surprised to learn that I found the houses in Beaufort, NC’s historic district to be very pretty and interesting.
After a bit of time for the PTSD of driving the Capital Beltway to subside, we flew to New Orleans.
What started as a loose commitment to gather with friends on the 20th anniversary of graduating from Loyola of New Orleans ended up being an imperative. For before that date, Katrina struck, and I felt it more necessary than ever to give back (if only as a free-spending visitor), and to share with my friends the pleasures of the city. This year, our 8th consecutive, our free-ranging group consisted of 9 people.
While I am a big music fan, I am not a particular fan of jazz. And that’s the beauty of Jazz Fest: it’s way more than just jazz. Over the years, we have seen Wilco, Mumford and Sons, the Decemberists, Jimmy Buffett, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, and Dave Matthews, among many others. Not to mention dozens of local, niche performers who sometimes outshine the big names.
Keith Frank and the Soileau Zydeco Band attracted an enthusiastic crowd.
Sometimes, even the sign language interpreters provide arresting performances.
We could hardly take our eyes of this interpreter. She was awesome!
Yesterday’s headliner was Eric Clapton, but I was there for John Hiatt – whom we ran into after the show.
John Hiatt got the audience at the Fais Do Do stage going.
New Orleans is also a great restaurant town, so we will the empty spaces in our schedule up with great meals. While you can still get a plateful of jambalaya or etouffe, I prefer smaller plates of lighter food. So while there is usually a lunch committed to eating at Jazz Fest (the cochon de lait and duck po-boys are insanely good), most other meals are more restrained. I had meals at Coquette (my favorite), La Petite Grocery, Borgne and Domenica. As well as drinks at Bouligny Tavern and the Roosevelt Hotel. If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, let me help you eat your way through town.
Beautiful salad and dessert at Coquette.
By far, my favorite activity during this crazy weekend is people-watching. The Fest brings out the class and the crazies. A great many people wear the official patterns of various years’ Fests.
This particular pattern shows up in many different forms.
This is 2007’s design, which I own — alas, without the “coordinating” shorts.
This lady is firmly committed to the 2014 watermelon pattern.
Others are a little more free-form in their attire.
Some of the many intriguing looks.
Should you ever decide to attend Jazz Fest, here is a game to help you decide what to wear. Roll a pair of dice to help you choose each element of your costume, starting from the top. (If I don’t offer enough choices to correspond with all possible rolls, keep rolling until you get a number that works.) NOTE: I have witnessed ALL of these.
2 – Nothing. You didn’t realize how hot and sunny it would be
3 – Dreadlocks, but if you’re a Rasta, roll again
4 – A Saints or Tulane Green Wave ballcap
5 – A papal miter
6 – A Pith helmet
7 – A straw fedora
Both Rick and John Hiatt rock the fedora.
8 – A battered and sweat-stained cowboy hat
Emily’s cowboy hat is an example of one which is too nice to meet this roll of the dice.
9 – A do-rag or bandana
10 – A Tilley hat
11 – A visor or ballcap advertising some event or place that has nothing to do with New Orleans
12 – A floppy tie-dyed hat
2 – None. You didn’t realize how hot and sunny it would be
3 – Classic Ray Ban Wayfarers or Aviators
Linda and performer Meschuja Lake have the aviators down, while Jim also wears the fedora.
4 – Oversized designer (Chanel, Gucci, etc.) shades
5 – Neon colored Wayfarer-styled shades
Meschuja Lake’s dancer Chance has the neon shades making an impression.
6 — Sporty Oakley, Maui Jim, or Kaenon glasses
7 – Retro cat-eye glasses
8 – Pastel-tinted John Lennon glasses
Dan’s shades aren’t quite retro enough.
2 – Nothing. You like to live dangerously.
3 – A coconut shell bra. Maybe Jimmy Buffett will turn up.
4 – Official Jazz Fest gear
5 – A sharp, ladylike dress (you can skip the “Bottom” category, or roll again if you are a guy and aren’t thrilled with this)
This lady looked smart, even if a little overdressed.
6 – A cute little sundress in Size 4, regardless of your own actual size
7 – A tie-dyed t-shirt. Maybe Jerry Garcia will turn up.
8 – A long-sleeved safari-styled shirt
9 – A “been there, done that” shirt from a place or event that has nothing to do with New Orleans, but is intended to get an attractive member of the opposite sex to look at you and strike up a conversation
10 – A tube top
11 – A “wife beater” tank top
12 – A bikini top, regardless of your size
2 – A grass skirt (see above)
3 – Camouflage pants
4 – Black jeans
5 – A miniskirt
6 – Nylon running shorts
7 – Overall shorts
8 – Patterned leggings
9 – Khaki shorts
10 – Bikini bottoms, regardless of your size
11 – A pareo
12 – A kilt
2 – Visible bra, thong, or boxers (depending on gender)
3 – Well-fitting bra. Where else are you going to keep your cell phone?
4 – None. You like to hang loose.
2 – None. You like to live naturally.
3 – Cowboy boots
I very nearly tossed my boots in my suitcase, before deciding that the dust and dirt of the Fairgrounds wouldn’t be very nice for them.
4 – Hiking boots
5 – Wellingtons or other rain boots, even if it’s not raining
6 – Sports sandals like Tevas or Keens
7 – Crocs
8 – Flip flops
9 – Platform sandals
10 – Running shoes
11 – Birkenstocks.
12 – Delicate strappy metallic sandals
Accessories (choose up to 4)
2 – Sunburn. You didn’t realize how hot and sunny it would be
3 – A cute, properly outfitted toddler
Kiddies should be wearing ear and head protection!
4 – One or more leis. Jimmy Buffett may turn up.
5 – Feathers
6 – Battery-powered fan
7 – A mango freeze or iced café au lait
8 – A guest pass pasted prominently on your clothing
9 – Giant hoop earrings
10 – Temporary or permanent tattoos
11 – Unnaturally colored hair
12 – A shawl
Now you’re set. Just don’t forget the folding chair and the hand-sanitizer!