On a beautiful Saturday, Jazz Fest crowds were not what one might have expected, even with the mighty Bon Jovi nation in attendance. (No word yet on whether Jovi's fans booed Irma Thomas like some did Dr. John during the ’80s rockers last visit.) But Jovi nation showed up. When asked to sing parts of "You Give Love a Bad Name," the infield crowd had no problem supplying the lyrics.
There were crowds spilling out of tents for Robert Cray's closing set in the Blues Tent and for John Boutte in the Jazz Tent. Boutte's set was a not so jazzy mix of R&B and hymns, and he also sang "The City of New Orleans," popularized by Arlo Guthrie, who has his own set tomorrow in the Blues Tent. Boutte made the crowd wait for "The Treme Song," which he closed with, and that he jazzed it up with help from Wendell Brunious on trumpet.
The crowds weren't bad at most stages, but it was the fences that had Fantasia distressed. Her career has been bumpy since winning American Idol, and so was the beginning of her set on the Congo Square Stage. In front of the stage there are areas fenced off for various VIP package ticket holders. Fantasia told the crowd it made her fell like her people were in jail, and she refused to start singing until something was done to help her connect with her people. I'm not sure when she started singing. Earlier on the Congo Square Stage, Emeline Michel of Haiti had less issues with the set up and made appeals for the peoples of Haiti and Japan. She has a beautiful voice and a warm and serene stage presence.
Big Freedia also had a fun time at the Congo Square Stage and performed new material and closed with "Rock Around the Clock," complete with air guitar from one of the stage dancers. Bill Haley and His Comets probably never saw stage dancing, or popping, like this stage show included, but the song works in the bounce format.
Anyone scrutinizing the Jazz Fest stage feng shui had a lot of flow to consider today. Acura's final three acts were: Wayne Toups and Zydecajun - Irma Thomas - Bon Jovi. Uhhh, interesting. But perhaps more interesting was the Gentilly Stage. Low Anthem - Amos Lee - Jason Mraz. That's a more harmonious bill that would sell tickets in New Jersey.
Some of the sure things today were small stages. Quantity mattered. With its collection of 9 violins, 8 guitars, accordion et. al., the Savoy Center Jam on the Fais Do Do Stage was a fun orchestral hootenany. On the Jazz & Heritage Stage, the Midnite Disturbers brought together Ben Ellman and Stanon Moore of Galactic, Shamarr Allen, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Big Sam Williams, Mark Mullins, Matt Perine, Roger Lewis of the Dirty Dozen, Kevin O'Day and many more. They took 15 minutes to funk through every song, but it was a great set. Also fun on a smaller stage was Hurray for the Riff Raff on the Lagniappe Stage.
Closing the Jazz & Heritage Stage was Dja Rara (pronounced Jah-RA-ra). The percussion and horn group performed various types of Haitian parading music. And after the set, the ensemble exited the stage and continued playing in the midst of the crowd in front of the stage. Apparently they were able to connect with their people. No word on whether Fantasia ever did.
Photos from the opening day at the Fair Grounds.
From anecdotal experience, it seems being an extra on Treme involves a lot of standing around at weird hours of the night, grabbing as much free food as possible from the craft services table, and hearing producers tell Davis Rogan over and over again to go home, because he is not an actual cast member (nah, I just made up that last part). But this seems way more fun: on Tuesday, May 3, the team behind the HBO series is re-creating a "2007 outdoor music festival" (likely Jazz Fest) for the show, and they need "festival-goers."
They're totally committing to this: Fake Jazz Fest will include performances by Wanda Rouzan, Donald Harrison and Treme cast members Clarke Peters (Albert Lambreaux) and Rob Brown (Delmond Lambreaux). There will also be free food, and raffles and giveaways with loot including a 43-inch plasma TV, Treme DVD box sets, CDs and more.
The daylong shoot starts at 8 a.m. and is happening rain or shine. Participants are asked to bring "festival gear" such as chairs and hats and to remember that this is supposed to be 2007: so no Obama, Super Bowl stuff or that William and Kate commemorative T-shirt you've been wearing all day. You'll probably be expected to flail around and clap off-rhythm like a normal festival-goer.
A flyer with more details, including a phone number to call for information, is after the jump.
In other Treme news, some cast members from the show will be at the Louisiana Music Factory Wednesday, May 4 at 11 a.m. to sign copies of the show's season 1 DVDs. Some of the actors expected to attend include Wendell Pierce (Antoine Batiste), Steve Zahn (Davis McAlary), Khandi Alexander (LaDonna Batiste-Williams), Clarke Peters, Rob Brown and Kermit Ruffins.
Anyone living in New Orleans who's used Google Maps to find their intended destination have certainly experienced the same frustration at one point or another: the Google "Street View" of their destination doesn't much look like what it does in reality (if you don't believe me, just check out the Street View for the Rock N' Bowl).
That should come as no surprise. In a city still in the midst of recovery and with new spaces opening constantly and blighted property demolition a priority of the current administration, the city's landscape is undergoing a profound and continuous transformation.
So it should be good news for people looking for elusive addresses (or just seeking to asses the recovery) that the Google Street View car has been making the rounds in New Orleans to update its pictures.
Curious about the process, I contacted the people at Google Street View and asked what their protocols were for updating their pictures of different cities.
Google's Deanna Yick said the process starts with hiring local drivers on a short-term basis that are familiar with local streets. After pictures are taken, Google uses state-of-the-art face-blurring technology to preserve bystanders' anonymity and then puts them online.
"As we're doing now in New Orleans, from time to time we re-drive areas for refreshed imagery as part of our effort to provide our users with the richest, most up-to-date maps possible," Yick said via e-mail. "I'm not at liberty to share specific info about the schedule since routes are often subject to change based on a variety of factors, including weather, driving conditions and the speed of collection."
The last time Google was in New Orleans was in 2008, when they launched Street View images for the city. That launch was accompanied by a letter by then-Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu. Landrieu said that he personally asked the people at Google to do a Street View for Louisiana.
In this time of recovery and rebuilding, it is important that we share real images of life in Louisiana and on the Gulf Coast. As you explore the streets of New Orleans, you will discover a city marked by extremes. You will see some areas spared the worst of Katrina’s fury which have quickly recovered, and you will find other neighborhoods that remain flattened by the floodwaters that broke the levees. You will see that our residents call both FEMA trailers and antebellum mansions home.
Now, three years later, New Orleanians will get a chance to see how far the recovery has actually come in New Orleans. If you don't think that much could have possibly changed in three years, I submit two pictures of my apartment. The first was taken by the Google-mobile back in 2008 and is the current "Street View" in Google maps:
And here's a picture of my apartment I took with my phone just a few minutes ago:
Yick said Google is also updating overhead images of New Orleans using Google Earth's "Historical Images" feature and users can check out how Hurricane Katrina affected the landscape of the city here.
Believe it or not, there are things going on around town this weekend that aren't necessarily Jazz Fest related. Gambit's Noah Bonaparte Pais did his weekly 7:40 a.m. stop on the Thursday edition of the WWL Eyewitness Morning News to break down some alternate options in music, theater and art. Check it:
High Times: "Does reefer affect your playing?"
Ruffins: "Yeah. I couldn't go on stage without it."
There are billions of shows this week and next, both in and outside of the Fair Grounds, for (or in opposition to) the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Here's the drop on some free music from artists performing in Week(end) One. (For ultra-comprehensive show listings, visit our music page.)
Friday, April 29:
Avett Brothers perform tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Gentilly Stage. Grab this free four-song Daytrotter session. Justin Townes Earle, son of Steve, also performs today (4:25 p.m., Fais Do-Do Stage), and has a couple free Daytrotter sessions. (Also worth checking out: his cover of the Boss' "Atlantic City.")
Toronto's electronic chaos duo Crystal Castles hits the Contemporary Arts Center at 8 p.m. The band is nice enough to throw all kinds of free music up here. Fuzzy psych-pop band Crocodiles (on Mississippi label Fat Possum) is at Republic at 10 p.m. Grab a free four-track EP from Fat Possum here.
Mos Def will be backed by Hot 8 Brass Band at Howlin' Wolf, 10 p.m. Saturday. Stream tracks from Rock with the Hot 8 here. And Rotary Downs plays at Siberia, 10 p.m. Saturday. Check out the band's new music video for "Big Parade" here.
Sunday, May 1:
Music blog You Ain't No Picasso has a massive (really) collection of live covers by the Decemberists (5:25 p.m. Fais Do-Do Stage), from Big Star to The Feelies. (Don't be surprised if any of these pop up during the Fest set.) Also: stream songs from the band's 2011 LP The King is Dead on the band's website. Watch a full set from John Legend and the Roots (5:30 p.m. Congo Square Stage) performing tracks from Wake Up! and more at Austin City Limits.
Hit the jump for other non-Fest downloads and more.
Before we get into the details of the pounding the Hornets' received at the hand of the Lakers in their final game of the season tonight, we just want to point out a touching moment that occurred with one minute left in the game.
With the Hornets down by 17, head coach Monty Williams called a 20-second timeout and subbed out his starters. The crowd - which contained more people than you'd think in the midst of such a blowout - then
all stood up in unison and started cheering and chanting "Thank you, Hornets."
It was a touching moment because — after all the turmoil of whether Chris Paul would be traded, whether this team will be moved and the ups and a pretty depressing 47 minutes of basketball — Hornets fans took a moment and recognized just how much this team has accomplished.
As we said in our playoff preview: who would've guessed that this team would even be in the playoffs a year ago? And even when they did make the playoffs, who believed the Hornets even had a chance to win a game, let alone two?
Yet, despite all the troubles this team has faced, the Hornets showed a determination and resolve that we haven't seen in years past and, through that determination — and the occasional brilliance of Paul — they managed to make people believe that they could at least compete with the two-time defending champions.
"Our players exemplify all the good things sports are about," Monty Williams said after the game. "I've been blessed to be around an unbelievable group of players and their families for an entire season. The grind ... can wear you out if you're around knuckleheads. ... This group was exceptional."
You could excuse Williams for being hyperbolic or waxing poetic about his team. But who doesn't feel sad that this group of scrappy and undersized players that, against all odds, made people in New Orleans truly care about NBA basketball?
As Chris Paul mentioned in his post-game press conference, the energy at the New Orleans Arena for the team's three playoff home games was extraordinary. Even when the Hornets weren't playing well — and they didn't play well all of Game 6 — they were loud. Unfortunately, crowd energy doesn't count for points.
Looking back, people will find all kinds of things to pick apart in tonight's loss. There's the questionable refereeing, Chris Paul scoring just four points through three quarters and the Laker's dominance in rebounds. But the simple fact is that the Lakers were just a bigger, more talented team than the Hornets.
New Orleans' only chance in this series was to completely outwork the Lakers in every aspect, work the pick-and-roll to death, shoot lights out and pray that the Lakers forget about their size and talent advantage and fold (which isn't something they usually do). None of that happened in Game 6.
The Hornets were hell bent on making things as hard as possible for Kobe and Co., and it didn't result in pretty basketball (neither team reached 50 points until midway through the third quarter). But the Hornets also didn't make anything easier for themselves. Chris Paul was all but absent in the first half (Kobe later said Paul "was tired", though he also said "that little sucker is tough"). And with Paul scoring just two points on two shots the rest of the team seemed lost without him and the Hornets managed just 34 points at the half.
Despite the crowd's urging, the Hornets just did not seem up to the task all game. The most poignant moment being a particularly egregious sequence where Ron Artest absolutely mugged Chris Paul on an inbound pass and then put in an easy layup (sending the crowd into a rage) and then Artest (cleanly) blocked a Jason Smith shot down the court. When Smith ran back to foul Kobe Bryant, a minor scuffle ensued and the refs determined Smith's foul was a flagrant-two (it definitely wasn't) sending the crowd into a fervor at the end of the third quarter.
But what could have been a spark to ignite the Hornets in the final frame turned out to be a whimper. The Lakers — with the secondary lineup on the floor — expanded their lead from 12 to 20 points with just over seven minutes remaining. At that point a small but noticeable number of fans started to make their way to the exits and it became obvious that the Hornets had run out of whatever it was that fueled their two wins in this series.
And yet despite the fact that the Hornets' season was obviously over, a significant portion of the crowd gutted out the loss until the bitter end. Afterward, Paul praised the energy the fans brought to the New Orleans Arena for every game this series.
"The energy is something I hope we can sustain," he said with a slight chuckle. "It's something we need not only for the playoffs but for the regular season."
It was a not-so-subtle hint to Hornets fans that this team will need them to show up again next season. Considering how well this team did with so many limitations, it's not out of the realm of possibility that this team could stay relevant in New Orleans through the summer and into next season.
Of course, there are too many questions that remain to be answers — who, if anyone, will buy the team? Can Williams and GM Dell Demps fill the team's gaps with talent in the off-season? Will the return of the NFL mean the stands at the Arena will be half-empty until January? — but those are for another day.
Right now, let's all just look back on how amazing this season actually was and hope that New Orleans and the Hornets have even better ones in their future.
More than 17,000 residents have signed up to participate in weekly curbside recycling pickup, scheduled to begin Monday for Metro Disposal and Richards Disposal customers. The city anticipates 20,000 participants by Monday (including those using the old blue bins from the pre-Katrina recycling program that may have not signed up on the city's website).
Residents also can fill out the Recycling Service Notice manually and mail it or drop it off to City Hall at 1300 Perdido Street, Room 1W03, New Orleans, LA 70112 or fax it to 658-3801.
Below the jump: neighborhood schedules for Metro and Richards customers, and items accepted in the bins.
Four volunteers with the American Red Cross Southeast Louisiana Chapter are deploying to disaster-affected areas in Mississippi, where tornadoes and ensuing damage killed at least 32 people, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Clusters of violent tornadoes touched down across seven states Wednesday, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Louisiana, and killing at least 284 people.
Ethel Sensley, Cori Meyer and husband and wife team Susan Mitchell Butler and Thomas Butler — all members of the local Disaster Action Team — will depart New Orleans for a three-week deployment.
Devastating tornadoes in Alabama prompted Gov. Robert Bentley to activate National Guard troops to help, and Red Cross is sending an additional 40 emergency response vehicles and 25,000 ready-to-eat meals. Red Cross Blood Services also is sending blood, as well as nurses and mental health workers.
More than 1,600 people sought refuge in 65 Red Cross shelters Wednesday night. Red Cross shelters are open in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, North Carolina and Texas.
To find ways to help, visit the American Red Cross website, or text REDCROSS to 90999, or call 1-800-REDCROSS. Here's Court Olgvie:
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