After a sodden first weekend of Jazz Fest 2008, I have few memories that did not take place in a tent or huddled under the grandstand.
Still, the Saturday Ponderosa Stomp revue was memorable - of course for the standard soul awesomeness of soul shouter Tami Lynn and for the ten-minute version of "Tighten Up" by Archie Bell that he got through before the 6:30 pm shutdown - but more so for the reliable antics of the Texas singer Roy "Is he on something?" Head. In his 60s, Head's set is still more acrobatic and lewd than anything Britney Spears can currently muster. One particularly shining moment involved Head straddling Stomp producer Ira Padnos's wife Sam as she played a sax solo. The best, though, was his repeated near-molestation of piano player Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural. The third time Roy leapt onto the piano bench to throw his arms around Buckwheat and aggressively snuggle him, I leaned over to my frend and said, "I hope they knew each other before this."
On Sunday afternoon, the Throw Back Jamm local rap showcase got through about 2/3 of their allotted time before the monsoon began. The Fest's mandate that the rappers keep their notoriously dirty lyrics spotless for the fairgrounds was pretty much upheld: for Cheeky Blakk's hit "Twerk Something" she substituted "with it" and "playa" for the N-word. But when Luther Campbell protege Bust Down hit the stage, his sly smile on the video monitor was the clue that he had his loophole figured out. Instead of singing the second half of the chorus to his big hit "Nasty Bitch," he yelled 'Nasty...' and let the audience holler out the rest of the phrase. If the hammering rain hadn't drowned out the sound for me completely, I would have loved to hear what MC T. Tucker did with his seminal, forbidden-word-laden track "Where Dey At."
Saturday night, whilst drying out, I tried to peruse the paper for something to go see if the rain let up, and noticed that Allen Toussaint seemed to be double-booked: he was supposed to play at 8pm at Snug Harbor, 9pm at Tip's uptown, and at 10 again at Snug. Even with traffic on his side, that seemed impossible. The only logical answer is that the hit-making wizard is actually so magical that he can, in fact, be in two places at once. I wouldn't know. I elected to stay home and stay dry. I just hope that next weekend, Allen decides to favor us mortals and point his Armani-sleeved arm at the sky to bid some drying rays to creep through the cloud cover.