The bastards did it. Bastards is too polite a word: the fuckers did it. I’m referring to the vote to strip healthcare away from 24+ million Americans. It’s going to complicate things for people with employer based plans as well. And the House passed it without proper vetting, public hearings, or even reading a bill that’s a procedural and substantive atrocity. In the past, the Senate has been where bad and/or controversial legislation goes to die BUT it won’t happen without public pressure. Pick up the phone and call your Senator to either support a no vote or excoriate them for a potential yes vote.
We return to our regularly scheduled Odds & Sods programming with this week’s theme song. Don’t Be That Way was composed by Benny Goodman and Edgar Sampson as an instrumental for Benny’s big band. Mitchell Parrish’s lyrics were written later. The first version is by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra. The second is by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. I somehow missed marking the centennial of Ella’s birth on April, 25th. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.
It’s hard to top Ella and Louis, so we’ll go to the break and regroup.
Jazz Fest Notes: I said last week that absent free tickets I wouldn’t be attending. I got a guest pass for Thursday and have a few ripping yarns to spin. We begin with Street Fest on a stormy last day of April. Jazz Fest was nearly thunderstormed out that day and didn’t open until 3 PM. There was a social media shitstorm caused by the producers’ taciturn feeds. I must admit to trolling them on Twitter myself. There’s no point to having a Twitter feed if they don’t use it. Information is power and there was a power failure literally and figuratively that day.
Street Fest wasn’t as crowded as in previous years when we heard Fleetwod Mac and Bruce Springsteen. We took up a location where you can see the big stage Jumbotron. The sound is just as good as inside the Fairgrounds. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were great. They’ve evolved from a band that played their recorded output note-by-note to stretching things out. They went deeper into their back catalog than expected playing the song below for the first time since 1999:
Happy Fortieth Anniversary to Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Scott Thurston, and Steve Ferrone. Long may you rock.
Wednesday night, Dr. A got a call from her close friend Mother Mary offering a fest freebie. Mary’s hubby Mike holds down the bottom for Egg Yolk Jubilee a deeply eccentric and wildly eclectic local band. Dr. A couldn’t go but I could. Thanks again, y’all.
Not long after Mary’s call, it started raining. Hard. We had 4 inches of rain at Adrastos World HQ. That meant the Fairgrounds would be muddier than hell. It was also chilly with a high of 60-something. It was the coldest Jazz Fest day I’ve experienced since 2004 when we shivered to Smokey Robinson.
Here are some random stories from a muddy-n-chilly Thursday:
Egg Yolk Jubilee played the Lagniappe stage at the Grandstand next to the paddocks. Their backstage area was the jockey’s locker room. It’s size appropriate: all the sinks and shelves were designed for short people; even the lockers are small. It meant that nobody could stuff me into a locker. I was so relieved that I neglected to make a “I’m going to malaka” joke. I let down the side. Sorry, pun community.
Since I’ve banged on about Egg Yolk Jubilee here’s one of the numbers they played:
In addition to running into oodles of people I know, I had several only in NOLA moments. The first involved a stranger in the Cuban tent. I was wearing a sugar skull shirt and a guy asked where I got it. I told him. Then he asked me where I was from:
Me: Uptown New Orleans.
Him: Us too. You know where Hansen’s is? (Bloggers Note: It’s a legendary snow ball stand.) We live a few doors down from it.
Me: I sure do. It’s three blocks from my house.
It’s a small fucking world, after all.
The second story involves a local character whose name I will omit so she can neither dine out on this story nor deny it. The woman in question is a combination of Zelig and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Zelig because she turns up everywhere in town and Zsa Zsa because she has a flamboyant mittle-European accent and calls everyone DARLING. I’ll call her ZZZ for Zsa Zsa Zelig or it that Zelig Zsa Zsa? Beats the hell outta me.
ZZZ goes everywhere with her little dog as if she were a New Orleans version of Lisa Vanderpump. When I ran into her at the Fairgrounds, she made a big deal over me as always. I’m not special: ZZZ is that way with everyone. Then I noticed she was pushing a baby stroller and realized that her dog was the baby. I asked her how she pulled that off and she said: “I told them my darling dog is my service animal, darling.”
I gotta give her credit for chutzpah. Zelig would surely know that word. I’m less certain about Zsa Zsa but ZZZ personifies it. If I had her chutzpah, I would have presented this at a Big Chief Experience outpost:
I did, however, wear it around my neck. It was much commented upon.
Our last story involves an outbreak of jazz at Jazz Fest. There’s been less and less jazz at the festival over the years, which has led to many jokes about its name. I spent some time at the Economy Hall Tent, which is where one can actually find trad jazz. It was a tribute to Louis Armstrong featuring James Andrews, Nicholas Payton, and local jazz historian and clarinetist, Dr. Michael White. The latter is an educator and used the opportunity to teach the audience about Satchmo. He asked the audience “What was Louis Armstrong’s signature song?”
The woman behind me was vehement and shouted “It’s A Wonderful World.” I turned around and said, “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South.” She wagged her finger at me, “You are so wrong.” Then Dr. White confirmed my musical diagnosis and the wonderful worlder said “Who knew?” I couldn’t resist a small triumph and said, “I did.” She was not amused. I was.
While we’re on the subject of Louis Armstrong, my friend and fellow horrid punster James Karst has been digging in the Picayune morgue where he unearthed some new Satchmo factmos in a piece entitled:
Exclusive: New Details Emerge About Satchmo’s Arrest At 9: Karst’s belief is that Satchmo was not a kid crook but an impoverished child who stole scrap metal to survive. I buy it. You should check it out.
Let’s move on to the passing of a local notable who was an acquaintance of mine.
Deborah Cotton, RIP: Call her Deb or Big Red Cotton, she was a force of nature and a person who brought joy into the lives of everyone she encountered. She was a gifted writer who was an expert on New Orleans’ distinctive second-line culture. In fact, she moderated a panel on brass band music at the last Rising Tide conference I served as program director for. It was also the year Our Athenae attended.
Deb was a gun-shot victim who was wounded in the infamous Mother’s Day shooting in 2013. She died of complications from her wounds this week at the age of 52.
Here are links to four fine tributes to Big Red Cotton:
Kevin Allman at Gambit Weekly. He was her editor as well as a good friend.
If there’s an afterlife, I hope Deb runs into Ashley Morris so they can swap stories about the town they both loved so much.
I mentioned missing the Ella Fitzgerald centennial. I’ll rectify that in our final segment.
Saturday Standard: Ella was great with any backing band: from orchestras to smaller jazz combos. Ella In Berlin is a live album with the Paul Smith Quartet. It is also the album from whence the classic “forgot the lyrics” version of Mack The Knife came. Enjoy.
That’s it for this week. I’ll give the last bat-word to Ella and Louis.