Thursday, August 24, 2006

Katrina one year on

It's just about a year since New Orleans was struck down by Katrina. According to everything I've heard and read, including a programme on Radio 4 tonight, the city remains a mess and the politicians have dismally failed to rebuild this great city. Indeed, ethnic cleansing seems to be the name of the game: preventing the poor blacks from returning the aim.
It's 15 years since my second visit to New Orleans Jazzfest. It was then that I saw Barbara George, who died recently, for the first time. Here are some extracts from my diary:
Friday April 26. No Fest because of heavy rain. Made up for it though in the evening. Went on the Creole Queen riverboat - great! Eddie Bo was fantastic, backed by Wayne Bennett and Red Tyler. Irma Thomas was wonderful too. Then on to Muddy Waters for Lil Ed & the Imperials, a lively swivel-eyed young bluesman, Lonnie Brooks - brilliant guitar - a couple of songs from Koko Taylor, and to finish off a great show there was blistering guitar stuff from Kenny Neal.
Saturday April 27. Breakfast at the Clover Inn and then to St Louis Cemetery to find Marie Laveau's tomb - the Witch Queen of New Orleans. Off to Jazzfest and parked my car in a local yard and was offered some crack. Acts included Jean Knight, Marva Wright, Harmonica Red and many others. An evening to remember: went on the Creole Queen again where a very thin crowd watched Ernie K-Doe, Barbara George and Jessie Hill. Ernie was his usual cocky self - I sat next to him later and he seemed rather subdued (pissed probably) off stage. Barbara gave it all she's got and I bought her new album Bad Luck and Trouble on cassette. Jessie Hill did a short but lively set. None of them in their heyday but all of them legends. (And all of them now sadly dead).
Sunday. Acts at Jazzfest included Willie Tee, Ohio Players, Rocking Dopsie, Clarence Frogman Henry (in a wheelchair), John Mooney, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Troy Turner and finally the good Dr John. In the evening to Irma's club. She was fantastic with a string of great deep soul songs. Dave and Mick, who I was with, were very pissed.
Monday. Weather appalling. Dave and Mick were suffering from last night's excess. Mick had stumbled away when I dropped him outside the hotel, fell asleep in the gutter and was robbed of his money, cards etc. I booked into a fleapit hotel on Airline Highway and bought yet more records (I'm going to have to control this addiction). In evening went to piano night at Tipitinas. Highlights were Jon Cleary (from Watford!) and Eddie Bo. Art Neville failed to finish a song. Tommy Ridgeley was also good. Eric Burdon did one number (why?)
To be continued


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