“New Orleans is my spot,” declares Pershall the cabbie en route to my second day at Jazz Fest. Ten minutes away from the famed French Quarter at the Fair Grounds Race Course, the 41st annual event jams and (of course) jazzes for a combined seven days.
Via eleven stages showcasing blues to funk to various legends like the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” Irma Thomas, to gospel, to an act like Pearl Jam, to a children’s tent, you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for.
Costs at the venue are fair: a bowl of Cajun jambalaya runs $5, a plate of alligator $6 (when in New Orleans…) and a beer $5. Although this year’s 375,000-strong fest wasn't as crowded as in yesteryears, at times I needed to think twice about grabbing a beer…solely due to the bathroom lines.
But inconveniences fade when you witness that special performance. Look around and you’ll see people watching the stage with blatant smiles plastered (soberly, for the most part) on their faces.
Two of the many notable acts were sultrily singing Clarence Carter (see video) and legendary B.B. King strumming his precious “Lucille” as if he were on his porch – not in front of the hundreds of people overflowing out of his blues tent.