Tuesday, May 1, 2018

New Orleans

I used to go to New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival almost every year, but haven’t been in a long time. I thought it was time to go back, especially since I haven’t seen my friends Bryant and Sam in almost as long. Bryant’s an old friend, and I always enjoy seeing him.

My first day in town I ate a light lunch because the guys and I had big plans at Brightsen’s, a well-loved restaurant, that evening. It was an appetite well saved, because we had an excellent dinner served by a charming waitress. This waitress began my re-introduction to Southern hospitality. Everybody is SO NICE here. I noticed it over and over as I got to the fairgrounds and navigated the festival. Moreover, the hospitality rubbed off on the other guests at the event. People came from all over, but as we congregated for the music, we all became extra nice, extra patient, extra friendly one to another.

I didn’t freak out with joy at the festival quite as I expected. Maybe I had inflated it in my memory, or maybe it’s just that I’ve been listening almost exclusively to big-band music over the last few years and that’s not the kind of music featured at this event. I had a fine time nevertheless. As I think about my favorite groups, I have too long a list to even start mentioning them by name. Except I will say that I heard Samantha Fish for the first time this year and I’ll make sure it’s not the last. If she comes to your town, go see her. And John Mayall has a new member of his group, a guitarist named Carolyn Wonderland. I think she still has her own group as well, and I’d go see her again any time I got the opportunity. John Mayall is great too, but we already knew that. The more I reflect on my experience, the better I like it.

It was a short trip with many delights, but I still rank hanging out with Bryant as one of the chief pleasures. He came to the festival with me on Saturday, took me to the airport today, and made his presence felt even when he wasn't personally at hand. I also delighted in eating well on the fairgrounds and elsewhere, kept up on my exercise, heard great music, and enjoyed lots of that Southern hospitality. I’ll bring some of the hospitality with me as I go north.

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