Today’s post is 1325 words, 21 photos, a 8 minute read. Enjoy!
Welcome to Part 2 of our 2023 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival experience. If you missed Part 1, click here.
It was a Sunday, the last day of the 2023 JazzFest. The skies were partly cloudy and it was promising to be a very warm day with temps in the upper 80s. I stood in line at the entrance to the Fairgrounds for what I believe is the last time. This was my 20th time attending JazzFest.
My first was in 2001 when record crowds showed up, 625,000 for the seven day run. I only attended one day, saw some great acts, and had a great time. I was hooked. For the next four years, I met up with a group that included my brother-in-law, his brother and partner, and a couple of other friends. We had a lot of fun together. Then Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and hit it hard.
It wasn’t until early 2006 when the announcement came out that JazzFest was on. For various reasons, the rest of the group decided not to come. I attended by myself. While I missed my Festing friends, I enjoyed my time at JazzFest. This continued for a few years until my sister, brother-in-law, and niece attended one year.
Since then my Traveling Partner has attended with me. I’m grateful for her company. We attended the 50th anniversary in 2019 expecting to be back in 2020 for my 20th time then close this chapter of our lives. But you know what intervened, the damned panic! JazzFest didn’t happened in 2020 or 2021. It was back on in 2022 but we weren’t comfortable with large crowds so stayed at home. This is when I decided to attend JazzFest 2023 for the last time. At the end of this post, I’ll tell you why.
The Last Day
Again, we set-up at the Festival Stage. From this location, it’s a fairly easy walk to food, drinks, crafts, and other stages. Sometimes, one needs to hear some zydeco at the Fais Do-Do stage or find some inner strength in the Gospel Tent. Here’s what it looked like when we arrive just after 11 AM.
Here’s what it looked like later in the day.
Note all the flags. This is so friends can find the meeting spot or if one gets a little tipsy, find the way home!
Here’s a close-up of the flags. There’s a Canadian flag among the group. Festers come from all over the world. I’ve met people from Canada, the U.K., Australia, and Germany. Makes for an interesting conglomeration of fans.
As I mentioned last week, I enjoy the people watching at JazzFest. Here’s a sample from the Sunday crowd.
These two fellas were set-up near us. I wish I knew their story. They had matching outfits as demonstrated when they posed for a photo by one of their wives. Are they brothers? Are they friends? Are they co-workers? Are they neighbors? Your guess is as good as mine.
While the group was away, the breeze came up and toppled most of their chairs. The lone person left behind had to sort things out. We were thankful for the breeze as a countermeasure to the hot sun and rising humidity.
Later in the day, some clouds showed up and provided a little relief from the sun.
These neighbors brought their two little kids. One got a view above the crowd.
These two fellas went shirtless during the heat of the day. They were standing on the packed sidewalk listening to the music.
It was early in the day when these two women met in front of the Miller Lite tent. Later in the day, this area was packed with people.
I saw this guy pop-up above the abundant assortment of umbrellas to take a photo. I couldn’t resist a photo of him.
Every place on the Fairgrounds was crowded on Sunday. The lines were long at the food vendors although they moved fairly quickly. The iced tea, lemonade, and mango drink lines were the longest as people tried to stay cool.
I had the Crawfish pie. The folded over baked dough held the hot and tasty crawfish. The food at JazzFest is excellent, all prepared by local restaurants and caterers.
Walking around the Fairgrounds, I spotted this interesting outfit. She must like yellow, reminded me of a bumblebee.
This t-shirt refers to the local way to eat crawfish; break the head from the body, suck out the juices and then break off the tail, the edible part of the critter. Click here for a video to learn how to eat boiled crawfish.
These Festers were cheering the performance of Trombone Shorty, the closing act of the 2023 JazzFest.
I was fortunate to come across The Roots of Music Marching Crusaders. This organization works to empower the youth of New Orleans through music, academic support, mentorship, and cultural learning. They sounded and looked great as they paraded around the Fairgrounds.
The musical line-up on the Festival Stage on this day was one of the best I can remember from my many years of attendance. The day started off with Low Cut Connie with their high energy rock and roll music. It was the first I heard of them, I’d go see them again.
Next up was a group from Puerto Rico, Pirulo y la Tribu. A nice sound and a great beat. Galactic took the stage and played their combination of rock, funk, jazz, and hip-hop.
The infield was packed when Mumford and Sons played their hour and a half set. This is the second time this British band has played JazzFest, their last was in 2011. They put on a rocking, good show. The crowd went wild when Jon Batiste joined them on stage for a few numbers.
The final act for the day was Trombone Shorty (the stage name for Troy Andrews) and his band Orleans Avenue. Coming from a musical family, Trombone Shorty began playing the trombone at age 4 and made his first JazzFest appearance that year when Bo Diddley called him up on stage to play. That was the beginning of his musical career. In addition to the trombone, Shorty plays the trumpet, tuba, drums, and organ.
After the retirement and deaths of some of the Neville Brothers, Trombone Shorty was given the closing spot on the main stage of JazzFest. He didn’t disappoint as he and his band fired up the crowd with their jazz, rock and roll, and funk tunes. Just 37, Trombone Shorty is doing a lot for the New Orleans music scene.
Jon Batiste also joined Trombone Shorty on stage. They have known each other since high school, a dynamic duo having a ball.
As I mentioned earlier, it was an excellent music day. And a satisfied feeling to end my attendance.
As the saying goes, “all good things come to an end.” After my first year at JazzFest, I couldn’t wait for the last week in April and the first week of May to come around. Planning for and attending JazzFest was a time of renewal for me. A time to clear my head, have some fun, listen to great music, and experience New Orleans. This year felt different. While all those things happened, I didn’t get the same feeling. Not only am I getting older, so are the musicians I remember from my youth. There’s a great crop of musicians filling in behind them but I don’t know their names or genres. The scene has left me behind, not their fault.
Other things have become more important to me, spending time with family and friends, traveling, writing, and a little photography. I’ll remember these years at JazzFest with great fondness, the good times, the music, and the friendship. It’s been a good ride. Farewell!
The Red Rider was one of the last vehicles left in the parking lot. A few minutes later the sun set.
Until next week, happy travels!