My feet were killin' me after the show last night. Happens when I stand in one place for 4 hours straight. And the 15 block walk home didn't help any. So I was in no rush Friday to get to Jazzfest real early. I knew in the sun and humidity, there was no way I could get there and even attempt to get down front and stay there for the day.
The route to Jazzfest from the house is over 2 blocks and about 30 blocks North. There is a bikeI can use so I get air in the tires and head out after Noon. I get about a 1/3 of the way their before I realize I forgot the lock and go back to get it. And since the seat is really too low for me, by the time I get there my quads are killing me, but I'm glad it's a flat route. An ice cold bottle gets downed.
At Will Call I pick up a ticket. My friend Carol has come down from Mass for years to work production. But she warned me that she no longer has access to guest passes, only tickets. I came to Jazzfest in '04 to see Susan Tedeschi and Joss Stone. The guest pass then worked to a corral right by the side of the stage, but also got you back to the trailer area. Here we are, back in the day....
My first stop is to head over to the trailer by the press tent and hang with Carol for a bit. It is air conditioned with bottled water and I stay for about 1/2 hour and watch her monitor 4 stages and the shuttles. When I leave, I thank her and tell her I may not make it back to this corner of the festival to say goodbye; she is at the other end from the main stage that The Nocs will be on.
Perusing the map, I am checking out the food options. I cut out meat/poultry/chicken a few weeks ago so there's not a lot, but there are some options that when I get there, look a little to spicy for me on this hot day. So I gladly settle for a bag of roasted peanuts. One now and one later. And i wonder around a bit before heading to the main stage. It's huge and the crowd is huge, and there are huge video monitors on each side. Marcia Ball is crankin' it out. I work my way down to the left side by a corral gate and ask the guard what the deal is. He tells me my pass works on the other side and its easier to go out to the track to get there. The Fest is on the grounds of a racetrack, and the Main Stage is at the far left, so the track goes behind the stage and curtls around to the far side of the field. I discover that walking on the track is mercifully uncrowded and SOFT sand...easy on the dogs.
After Marcia's set, I go into the corral which does not get as far as the side of the stage. And other VIP corrals are directly in the front, so the closest regular ticket holders are probably 50 feet back from the stage. So no, Wally, that was not me you spotted in the ultra VIP section sidestage.
The Nocs come out and people stream into the corrals. The entrance for The Foundation, the group that runs the Fest, goes right by me and up to a side stage entrance. And boldly, they open with Nothing But The Water to grab the crowd.
One of the large screens is basically right over my head, and I notice many of the people standing near me are watching the monitor vs. the stage...after a few songs I decide to walk around to the back of the crowd and watch from the last row. The sound is great, voices are clear, video is great.
Highlights this afternoon.
Sweet Hands: Includes a Beastie Boys tribute to Adam with "Fight for your Right" sandwich.
The New Songs: Turntable, my first spin. Lion/Beast/Beat, Never Go Back and The Divide are all made for a Big Stage.
The last third of the show I watch from the side about 1/2 way back. People are coming and going the whole time. Their time slot is between Marcia Ball, a Southern honky tonk piano blues and The Zach Brown Band so you have a real cross section of fans.
The sun and humidity have sucked it out of me. I really have to work my way into this kind of weather and it has been too abrupt. Another 4 hours on my feet... I'm ready to leave when the Nocs leave the stage.
I work my way to the gate, stopping outside the Gospel Tent for a song by Mavis Staple before going out the gate to my bike. And the strains of "The Night They Drown Old Dixie Down" spill out of the tent. A nice tribute to Levon, and I ride off when they are finished.
And back at the house, I start to re-think my plan, which was to pack the car, bike to HOB early enough to get on the rail and enjoy the show, and then get 2+ hours in on the ride back to memphis. But I realize my feet are killing me, there are no seats at HOB, no time for a nap, and I'll be too tired to drive safely late at night tonight. In retrospect, I could have stayed in NOLA and made the 6 hour trip the next day, because GPN is not on until 8:55. If there had been anyplace to sit....But I don't feel I can make another 4 hours on my feet, so I made the rare call to pass on HOB and leave and get in 3 hours of the ride and stay again in Jackson.
Thus missing Warren Haynes sitting in for a song.
Comfortable with my decision, I take my time, and my leave. The sun is still up when I hit the road, windows and sunroof wide open. And they stay that way until almost Memphis. And those of you paying close attention might note that the only thing to eat all day has been two bags of peanuts. I discover how delicious a Subway veggie sub is. We might become good friends.
Scene in the crowd: Lots o' folk. None I knew.
Fight for Your Right>
Never Go Back