Editor’s picks: A weekend on Jazz Fest couch tour
May 5, 2016
I spent this weekend on a New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival couch tour. Since I couldn't actually make it down to The Big Easy this year, I was stoked to see a variety of artist performances on the AXS TV channel. As there is still several feet of snow on the ground where I live, I have to admit I was a little jealous of the crowds of fans with their short dresses, hats and flip flops (although a downpour did cancel a few shows the second Saturday of the event). In late April, early May, the sun and humidity in the South are already blazing, but the thought of dripping in sweat isn't a deterrent.
New Orleans is my favorite city to visit in the U.S., with its culture, music and Southern hospitality. The first time I went, I remember a random stranger walked by us on the street said, "How ya doing, ya'll?" and I had to look behind me to see who she was talking to, only to realize it was us. I sat at Acme Oyster House arguing with my partner that I couldn't eat an entire dinner of just oysters — until they set those parmesan grilled ones in front of me, and I completely ignored everything else on the table — much to his amusement. I spent the entire day at the festival grounds listening to music, only to eat dinner, go to a 9 0'clock show, followed by a 2 a.m. show — only to wake up and start all over again. I fell in love with horns at Tipitina's and danced the night away on a river boat.
Sitting in with Dumpstaphunk was Brandon "TAZ" Niederauer. If you haven't discovered TAZ yet, I would highly recommend looking him up. An insanely talented, very young musician on the rise, this kid just rips it up on the guitar. He is no secret — the young musician has played with members of the Allman Brothers Band, George Clinton, Dr. John, Gary Clark Jr., Col. Bruce Hampton, Eric Krasno, George Porter Jr., Robert Randolph, Roosevelt Collier, The Neville Brothers — and many more. Check him out brandonniederauer.com.
It was no surprise that there was an entire program on the AXS channel dedicated to artists at the event paying tribute to Prince — Grace Potter performing "Kiss" was just fantastic, along with My Morning Jacket's "Purple Rain" and Gov't Mule's "When Doves Cry," just to name a few. A skywriting with the Prince symbol hovered in the blue sky, and Grace Potter told fans, "Don't party for yourselves. Party for Prince."
Just jamming out to the shows on TV created an inner bubble of excitement inside me for summer music and really just life in general. It reminds me how just being in the moment at a live show can help us forget our real-world troubles, even if its for just a few hours — or minutes — or inspire us to do more with our lives. It can bring back sad thoughts of loved ones lost, but also honor their memories.
Even a little mud season couch tour can be beautiful.
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