Having been back from New Orleans for a while now, I have had plenty of time for that experience to sink in. As always, the amazing city of colorful people did not disappoint. First, the music was life-changing. Music often is, but for some reason, this weekend particularly moved me, musically and otherwise.
Living in a mainstream mecca may be part of it, but I declare that most of the energy I picked up on was true, raw, inspirational grit coming from the likes of local musicians and people that have been both directly and indirectly affected by Katrina. Add to it the political backdrop created by Katrina coupled with the war we fight overseas, and you have the awake and conscious contingent of this country taking notice. But mostly, there is the music.
The highlights, for me, were the Old Point Bar in Algiers (where parts of the movie Ray were filmed) on Friday night and Anders Osborne on Saturday night. Old Point Bar featured many local musicians, including Anders, as well as some good eats, provided by the Zu Zoo man. Anders played at this classic N’awlins bar called d.b.a., full of old, dark, mahogany wood and 1940’s era handblown wall sconces. Dark, but inviting. The lighting, however, didn’t matter much, as the hard rains shut the power down several times throughout the evening. A heavy situation, considering this was the first weekend of the first Jazz Fest since Katrina. The crowd banned together in silence, and the musicians kept playing, unplugged. This was a high time, for sure, and was especially symbolic of many things all at once; the power of music and people coming together in the face of darkness. And it, simply, rocked.
It would be irresponsible of me if I failed to mention Bruce Springsteen’s live debut of his new and completely impressive album, “We Shall Overcome – The Seeger Sessions”. Sunday afternoon at the fairgrounds, Bruce and band played songs from this album as planes flew overhead with anti-Bush messages. I would have liked to get closer, but the packed crowd and festivities of Friday and Saturday night combined with the N’awlin’s heat wouldn’t allow such a thing. It was, however, an amazing show. Long live The Boss.
In the midst of all of the music were the people of New Orleans, still learning to absorb the wrath of Katrina, and open and eager to tell their stories. It seems everyone wonders, still, what will be rebuilt, and when. And to see the ruins of an already depressed area is an intense sight. Still, the spirit of New Orleans is intact, and I believe it always will be. To heed the message of Mother Nature and the changing of our beloved planet would be the best first step in moving forward, but it seems that conversation is a ways off. Rebuild, I say, but consider the place and sustainibility, and pave the way for us all.
Click for a little fest flavor.