Al’s Spring Break

 Posted by
May 172016
 

Monday morning it was off for three days in Cajun country. Here’s where Nancy justified us taking her tour rather than coming for the fest on our own. All three days featured private performances with musicians that Nancy knows from back in the ‘70s. Monday we were in Eunice LA for Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie with a barbecue, dance, and performance in the barn on his farm with the 40 people on the tour and some friends and family of Geno. Geno is a zydeco accordion player and the son of John Delafose, also a zydeco accordionist whom Nancy used to book; she has known Geno since he was a little boy. This was rock & roll by another name and a great time.

Tuesday, still in Eunice, we went to the Savoy Music Center, where Marc Savoy gave us a lecture on making accordions. During this lecture, Jerry Devillier stopped by. Jerry is a Cajun harmonica player and is the last surviving member of a Cajun group who played at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival. This appearance was apparently one of the first by a Cajun group outside of Acadia and was responsible for spreading Cajun music. Jerry was wonderful, very modest, and telling us how amazing it was to be at Newport with the likes of Dylan and Baez and to receive a standing ovation (they had only played dances; they didn’t know from standing ovations).

After this it was off to the home of Marc & Ann Savoy for a crawfish boil and another performance & dance for us, family, and neighbors. 600 pounds of crawfish, cold beer, and master musicians having fun; this was special. Again, Nancy knows Marc & Ann forever as well as Michael Doucet, who was there to eat, drink, and play. Michael is one of the few Cajun musicians I was already aware of, having a CD of his from a long time ago. Michael was also on the Cuba trip and was a blast to hang out with.

Wednesday it was off to the home of D.L. Menard, another friend of Nancy’s from the old days. More food and friends and music. D.L. is a real country gentlemen and for this fanboy, it was something to chat with someone who knew Hank Williams. (Yes, I’m that kind of fan-boy!)

Wednesday night it was back to NoLa and Thursday was the last day for the festival for us. We saw both Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie and the Savoy Family Cajun Band again but this time we had to share then with lots of other people. We saw the Jones Sisters, 4 teenagers who pretty near tore the roof off the Gospel Tent. I’m not being literal this time but this was some serious testifyin’ music.

Gary Clark Jr left me wondering what all the hype is about. The highlight of the day was Gerald French & The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band. If you’ve read this far, then please read this article. What a performance! A super-tight, old-style New Orleans jazz band that had the crowd dancing in the aisles of the Economy Hall Tent.

We finished off our Festival experience with Elvis Costello & The Imposters. Elvis appeared dressed for Halloween as a Dr. John-style New Orleans jazz hipster. He was on the same stage that Van Morrison had been but this day was the opposite weather-wise with heavy rains all day. That and it being a Thursday kept the crowds way down. I knew we had to leave early again but this turned out to be fine. From my point of view I saw the encore as Elvis opened with “What’s So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding,” “Watching The Detectives,” “Mystery Dance,” and “Radio Radio”. I didn’t recognize the next song (as we were leaving) and when I looked up a set list the other day, I only knew 2 of the remaining 14 songs. So, from my perspective, it was a great 4-song set.

All in all, a fantastic experience for this jaded, crabby, old man. And if at times this post seems like a paid advertisement for Nancy, well it’s not. I wasn’t paid! But for more info go to http://www.gumbopages.com/festivaltours/.

BigSteve, I’m hoping to see some comments from you about the Fest, NoLa, Cajun music, whatever. Or anyone else, of course.

Share

  5 Responses to “Al’s Spring Break”

  1. These tours sound really cool – and I’m usually averse to tours of any sort. Nancy Covey sounds worthy of an RTH interview.

  2. BigSteve

    All the years I lived in New Orleans, I never went to the Fair Grounds for JazzFest. I’ve been to some of the concerts around town associated with the Fest, some very memorable, but never the main event. I don’t like big crowds, and for someone in academia it was inopportune that they always held it right at exam time.

    The Cajun part of your trip sounds very cool. Years ago I went to Marc Savoy’s music store, where he had some decent guitars. I picked up a Gibson SG and started playing, and he tried to convince me to get an accordion, because the guitar was “on its way out.”

    Too bad the tour did not include the Festival International de Louisiane, which takes place in Lafayette on one of the same weekends as JazzFest. In addition to Cajun stuff they also feature music from other French-speaking parts of the world, and the time I went they had cool African and Haitian bands.

    It sounds like you met some cool people. I didn’t realize D.L. Menard was still alive! Cajun culture is not exactly accessible to the casual visitor, because the best parts of it are not commercialized (not for lack of trying). It takes place in the homes and kitchens of real people, and for a package tour you really seem to have gotten behind the scenes.

    But dude, you passed up Pearl Jam?!!!

  3. I go to a lot of shows, but I never travel. These tours you’ve been on, especially the Cuban trip, have got me thinking…maybe.

 
twitter facebook youtube