I don't know how it usually goes for most people, but it seems like the few hours immediately before and after Jazz Fest days have to be the worst. Before it just a rush to get to the fest, deciding how to go (car, cab, bike?) and making sure you have all you need (yesterday, for example, I almost forgot my ticket). After is just a rush of energy and exhaustion, the spirit's desire for the day to keep on going matched with the body's desire to get some rest. Those few moments are totally forgotten, though, during the Fest.
I like to call it a religious experience. I know I can't be alone.
Probably my favorite part of walking into the Fair Grounds is that the Gospel Tent is one of, if not the, first music you can hear clearly (so long as Gentilly Stage isn't rocking too hard). Where my friends were going for iced coffees at the WWOZ hospitality tent, the only energy I needed came from the choirs belting out gospel hymns to a seemingly always packed house. Jazz Fest doesn't ask you to believe in God, but if you leave it without believing in music, then you have a serious lack of faith that should be addressed.
I look forward to getting this picture every year because it captures everything I love about Jazz Fest. A tuba, the cornerstone instrument to so many jazz ensembles, the reflection of the people second lining and, if you look closely, you can see the Congo Square stage. The fact that you can go from the Acura Stage to the Gentilly Stage and pass three other music stages on the way (if you stay in the infield, that is) AND get to experience a second line makes it the probably the greatest half-mile walk ever.
The Allman Brothers were so good that we left, went to see Hot 8 (which happily had amassed a sizable crowd of their own), freshened up and then were able to make it back to the Acura Stage to catch the end of "Whipping Post" and the Allman's encore. Many times during the day I felt overcome by the power of the music. One of the gospel choirs (and I can't remember which one because I caught glimpses of all but two of them yesterday) was asking people if they needed a miracle by tomorrow. I got my miracle at the Church of Jazz Fest.