Once again this year, the Internet and, especially, the World Wide Web proved an invaluable tool for Jazz Fest visitors as well as an open forum for music fans to discuss highlights and disappointments of the 1998 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Even local television media finally caught on to the frenzy of pre-Jazz Fest activity on the Web by including a short report on visitors checking the Official New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival site (www.nojazzfest.com) prior to coming into town. Across the Fair Grounds, people were seen with print outs of Jazz Fest schedules from OffBeat’s Jazz Fest Preview site and those offered by the Florida-based Pet De Kat Krewe’s site (www.petdekat.com). Upon returning from the Fest, fans from across the country logged on to chat boards at OffBeat’s site and the Official Jazz Fest site to discuss what they’d seen, share experiences with those music fans who couldn’t make the Fest, and make plans — yes, already — for next year’s visit to New Orleans. Just a few of the postings to the OffBeat Message Board follow.
“Well, Finally settlin’ in after an incredible Weekend 1 at Fest! Best shows/moments were: John Mooney’s set, the N.O. Klezmer Allstars, Burning Spear, the funky Meters smoked!, the Olympia Brass Band was great, as were the Rebirth Brass Band who I caught immediately after — nice to hear the differences in brass bands from older style to newer. Also, Shirley Caesar and Bobby Jones at the Gospel tent and the Zawinal Syndicate, Jazz Messenger’s Legacy Band, and Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe all KILLED! Bonnie Raitt charmed and let John Cleary and so many other great players strut their stuff; John Fogerty rocked mightily, too! It was all and more than I thought my first fest would ever be. It’ll be a long year of waiting for next year — but New Orleans will see my face again before April of ’99!”
“Best of the Fest: Accordion-fueled dancing frenzy with Osvaldo Ayalo y su Grupo of Panama closing out Saturday at Congo Square. Runner-up: an hour with the majestic voice of Mavis Staples in the Gospel Tent. Only reasons to visit the Ray-Ban: ReBirth, Dirty Dozen, Etta James and Ruth Brown. Only reason to visit the Polaroid: Johnny Adams’ mini-set with George Porter, Jr. Low point: Way too much chatter from cigar-smoking, overgrown frat-boy yuppies during Johnny Adams, Etta and others . . . SHUT UP AND LISTEN OR TAKE YOUR SORRY ASS HOME!”
“Jazz Fest notes from a first weekender: Best of the Fest — Paul Cebar’s first time at Jazz Fest was great . . . as was Dr. John and the Iguanas. Caught a little of Tiny Town and they just don’t do it for me, not even close to the music the subdudes put out. I’m sure the subdudes reunion gig was great, but why did they do it? Either they get back together as the subdudes or go their separate ways, what’s it going to be? Tiny Town will not make it. I think I had one of those Jazz Fest ‘moments’ at Keb’ Mo’ on Saturday . . . great show. Then over to Ray-Ban stage for Allen Toussaint, Etta James and Bonnie Raitt. Great weather, music and food!”
“Just got back from the second weekend and am ready to head back! My ninth Fest, in some ways one of the best. Weather was absolutely perfect. Still kinda pissed at the lineup second weekend — Doobies and Buffett, but no Sonny [Landreth] or Continental Drifters? What’s up wit’ dat? Highlights: Wayne Toups (awesome), Radiators (of course), New Orleans Nightcrawlers (10-piece horn/funk band — I’m listening to their CD right now and grooving), Iguanas at Rock’N’Bowl, Buckwheat (although he’s been doing the same eight-songs-in-forty-minutes set for years now) and an almost-Drifters show at Carrollton Station on Sunday night (Peter Holsapple with the Psycho Sisters, and Mark and Robert — all but the Incredible Missing Drummer, but it was a great show nonetheless!). Nightmares: Buffett (sorry, Parrotheads, just not my cup of margarita), missed out on funky Meters tickets, and almost got run down by a maniacal cab driver. Other than that, it was all pretty delicious. Thought the new layout was OK, a little less congested, although a hard trek to the Jazz and Gospel tents. I’m ready; hurry up, 1999!”
“What a great Jazz Fess that was. There was just so much it’s hard to say what was da best! Enjoyed Dash Rip Rock, CJ Chenier, Mem Shannon, Thousand $ Car, Ernie K-Doe was really a hoot, Wayne Toups was hoppin. Sunday cooled out to Ellis Marsallis & Spryo Gyra in the Jazz Tent, what a great way to end a wonderful weekend. Just waitin’ on ’99 Fest information.”
“Despite the sound problems, I caught the best show I saw each day at the HoB stage (John Mooney and Henry Butler, respectively). Besides these two, my highlights for the weekend included just about everything at Congo Square on Saturday, Jazz Messengers closing out the weekend at the WWOZ tent, and, grudgingly, I must admit the half of he Dave Matthews Band set I saw was very, very good. However, there was one unfortunate incident I saw this weekend (besides the beer lines on Sunday): DJ Jubilee being cut short on Sunday due to ‘vulgar content’ (i.e., audience member flashing ‘gang signs’) But, all in all, a great weekend. Nothing made me feel better than seeing Mooney doing OK again.”
“Well, a couple of nights of real sleep following another 12 wonderful days and nights in my ‘second home’. Fest Comments? I have several. On the down side (get it out of the way): Ditto to the comments on HOB’s sound guy. That stage’s sound has sucked last two years (both years’ Galactic shows were just awful); Beatle Bob has to go, what a distracting jerk; and, the stomped Crawfish Shell award goes to Superfly-by-Night productions and the subdudes reunion. Oversold and what a dog of a location — the sound was horrible (and I was standing right behind the sound board, generally a good sound move, however, the soundman was too busy entertaining all his friends in the soundboard area as if it was a skybox at the SuperDome). What a dump, I’ll never go back, even if it is the only place to see the dudes. Kermit Ruffins? Hey, put away the shtick and focus on playing. The blunt smoking, beer drinking, BBQ act is getting tired. So is the kazoo solo. (your daughter, however, is cute). Irvin Mayfield blew you away at Tower. Enough with the Congo fashion show! Beau Jocque? Yep, very tired and second year in a row. OK, on the plus side! Paul Cebar!! (it’s about time) ReBirth (as always), Los Hombres Calientes (especially mid week at Tip’s) was awesome! Anders and Theresa? (she has to be given equal credit, Anders you are one lucky guy) The 4/23 show at Tips was stunning!! Snooks!! (as always); Astral Project is underrated. Smilin’ Myron 5/2 at the Leaf rocked. As for the dudes (other than the problems of holding a concert in an airplane hanger) yes it was great to see them again. I cannot believe that they traded in one of the most magically unique sounds in pop/rock/r&b/blue-eyed soul etc. for another run of the mill garage/bar bands. Tiny Town is competent at best. What a waste. HOWEVER! I can’t concur on the raves for that show. Yes, they enjoyed themselves and many moments hinted at the old magic. But, they were not well rehearsed, they blew lyrics etc. Was it good? Yes. But not great. Well, 50 weeks to go, but who’s counting.”
With that, I’ll consider the Jazz Fest sufficiently milked for column material in 1998. Thanks to everyone who had kind words about OffBeat — both the magazine and the Web site — we really appreciate the feedback. Remember that while Jazz Fest may be the biggest and best musical event of the year, it’s far from the only one in New Orleans. Keep reading (on-line and off) for all the latest news and chat about the local music scene and various happenings. And to all the once a year visitors who come to Jazz Fest: See you next April, and thanks for coming.