We finally made it to Jazz Fest in New Orleans with our friends Rick and Eva.  They’ve told us how great it is for years and now we finally experienced it for ourselves!

It was Skip’s first visit to NOLA.  I attended a conference there several years ago (before Katrina.)  We arrived a day early to do the tourist stuff.  First stop–Bourbon Street!  You have to see it once because there’s nothing like wandering along and seeing the sights – lots of drunks and hard-looking women hanging out in front of strip clubs.

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Bourbon Street

We ate our first meal at Felix’s Oyster Bar.   The charcoal grilled oysters were dripping in garlic butter–yummy!  I also tried barbecued shrimp and managed to squirt it all over my shirt!  Skip got a sampler of red beans and rice, jambalaya and crawfish etoufee.  Let the dining experience begin!!

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Shrimp Splatter!

The next morning we wandered down to the waterfront to feast on beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde.  There’s nothing like it!  We also had a nice encounter with a street performer.  Although he pegged us for gullible tourists I enjoyed the song he sang me (Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans) and we bought his CD which is really nice.

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Quintessential New Orleans – Jackson Square

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Street musician T.S. Lark – a nice gentleman!

We spent most of the day doing Eva’s unofficial walking tour.  Since she attended college there she knows the city well.  The route took us across town on the trolley for lunch at Cooter Browns followed by a nice walk along the levee and around Audubon park ending up browsing the shops on Magazine Street.

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Can you believe the size of this muffaletta?! We ordered a whole to share. Didn’t realize it could feed a small country!

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Street scene

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Mardi Gras remnants

Over the weekend we dined at some of the best restaurants in New Orleans.  Dinner at Bayona was delicious even with the staff being a little overwhelmed.  Skip’s pork chop and Rick’s sweetbreads were the highlights.  Lunch at Coquette was my favorite.  The appetizer was too beautiful to eat — lightly battered squash blossoms with tomato vinaigrette.  I had the cochon du lait – a pork dish that was delicious.

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Squash blossom appetizer–makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

We had dinner at Dijon- a newer restaurant in a restored fire house.  Although it was very noisy the food at Luke was amazing.  I had the crawfish bisque and mussels con frite.  I only wish I could have finished them because they were delicious!  Our last dinner at Rambla was not as memorable.  Maybe we were worn out but the slow service took away from our enjoyment of the food.

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Crawfish bisque – I was told to suck the meat from the head. It was yummy!

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Dressed up for a night out

Now for the music…  Jazz Fest was so much fun.  The weather was perfect for sitting outside.   There are so many good choices for performances but you can’t possibly see everything.  We quickly learned to stake out a spot and just relax and enjoy!

Each evening featured a big act but I actually preferred hearing the local music more.  I love the show Treme which is about New Orleans after Katrina and features local musicians.  We saw performances by Mardi Gras Indians, brass bands, Cajun, blues and jazz groups. We would have been happy just hanging in the Blues tent the whole time but we would have missed out on the variety available.

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James Andrews Band – High energy and fun! He played the Treme song and got a 2nd line started. The guitar player was on Treme.

Jazz Fest - New Orleans
Mardi Gras Indians – Aren’t they pretty?

Jazz Fest - New Orleans
Mardi Gras Indian parade

Jazz Fest - New Orleans
Beau Soleil on the Fais Do Do (Cajun dance party) stage

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Jim and Rick waiting for the next performance

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C.J. Shenier and the Hot Louisiana Band

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Sonny Landreth plays the Blues Tent. We’ve seen him several times at the Rams Head. He’s much better on a big stage — his music is LOUD!

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Rick, Eva and Skip hanging outside the Blues tent

The first night we stopped by to hear the Beach Boys on their 50th anniversary tour (can you believe it?!)  I was a big fan and have fond memories of the first concert I saw back in 1975.  I thought they sounded good but Skip thought that the backup band was doing most of the heavy lifting.

Jazz Fest - New Orleans
The Beach Boys

The second night we staked out a spot outside of the main crowd to hear Tom Petty.  I couldn’t believe how crowded it was and the people just kept packing in.   That was nothing compared to the Bruce Springsteen crowd the last night!  We staked out a spot with our chairs and actually got on the grass with a view of the big screen.  The only way you could get close would be to line up really early and run to the stage area to stake out a spot.  I wanted to hear Bruce but I wasn’t going to that extreme!  The last time I saw him was in 1981.  He still sounded great–opening with Badlands.  We left early to beat the crowds as he was playing Prove it All Night.

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Waiting for Bruce

Jazz Fest - New Orleans
We could see the screen but not the stage. Sound was great!

The food at Jazz fest was wonderful.  We tried cochon du lait (steamed pork with spicy slaw), red beans and rice, soft crab po boy and bread pudding.  The choices were endless.

We’re now back on the boat varnishing and working on other projects. We got the dinghy down today and fired up the outboard. It started first try!

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