I did something out of character this
Jazz Fest: I skipped town. A close friend of mine recently relocated
to Louisville, and although the Kentucky Derby always overlaps with
the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I
actually didn't have any official business second weekend of Jazzfest
(this awesome thing happened on very short notice and I regret
missing it), so I figured the hell with it. The guys on the trip all purchased
loudly-patterned novelty suits (I'm trying to avoid dropping brand
names because this isn't sponcon- although if Blue Apron or whatever wants
to offer me money to fabricate a story about how meal kit delivery saved my marriage, I'm all
ears) and we all had a great time being wet morons at the Derby,
which turned out to be a sublime mix of classy and trashy.
When the trip was still in the planning
phase, my wife's co-workers had warned her against buying tickets for
the infield (the field inside the track, which is the only sub-$400
option) because it was "just a bunch of people getting drunk and
partying all day and you can only kind of see the races." Upon
hearing that advice, we immediately and enthusiastically purchased
infield tickets. It was pretty much a music festival- mud, crazy
outfits, overpriced drink stands, mud, sponsor tents, port-a-potties,
mud- but substitute the bands you've never heard of with weird names for horses you've never heard of with weird names.
To give you a good idea of what my Derby experience was like, I have
included a video from the Louisville Courier-Journal where correspondent Marty Pearl masterfully deadpans his way through a montage of drunk
people slipping in mud and jumping on port-a-potties like he's narrating a documentary about the indigenous peoples of Borneo. If you keep your eyes
peeled, you can catch me making a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in
BRIEF SIDEBAR: When I was a kid, I was
horrified by the phrase "keep your eyes peeled." It still
sounds gross when I think about it.
I flew into Louisville a few hours
ahead of the rest of the gang, so my friend took me to a bar near his
house which locals had warned him was "dangerous" and
"the kind of place where you'll get stabbed." Long story
short, unless you can get stabbed by a one-dollar jello shot or a row
of HDTVs hooked up to video game consoles, this was not a dangerous
I think a good rule of thumb is that
when someone tells you to avoid an establishment because it's "bro-y"
or "full of douchebags," steer clear. But when someone
tells you to avoid a bar because it's"sketchy" or
"dangerous," nine times out of ten that just means it's a
low-key establishment where experienced drinkers flock in order to
get stoned quietly and without having to pay a surcharge for "atmosphere."
The tenth time, you're going to come away with a decent story.
Actually, what the heck- here are some
patented ROB INGRAHAM LIFE GUIDELINES:
-When dining out, always read the whole menu. You can
become the envy of many a dinner table by taking a few extra seconds to
read the descriptions of dishes that don't immediately catch your eye.
always time to say "please" and "thank you" (oh
God it's true I'm turning into my parents).
you're getting ready to do something smelly in a bathroom, and that
bathroom has a fan, TURN THE FAN ON. How is this not a thing?
Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person on earth who understands
that if a bathroom smells bad and it has a fan, you can use the fan
to make it not smell bad anymore.
you have a good excuse, avoid escalators. The
stairs are usually faster and they will make you INVINCIBLE. (results may vary)
JazzFest is gone, the dust has settled, we've had some time to recover, and here we are once again
trying to sift through the rubble and get on with our lives. We're back on the road now, and I'll be sure to write about this week of shows sometime in July. Aside
from a star-studded Rumpelsteelskin performance at NOLA Brewing, I didn't do much moonlighting this
JazzFest, so I guess I'll have to actually talk about The Revivalists
for a bit (weird, right?):
ten years ago, I was fortunate enough to fall in with this crowd of
musicians. I wasn't exactly Mark Wahlberg in Rock Star, but I had been a fan for a while at that point, so I jumped at the opportunity and I'm
glad to say I haven't squandered it yet. That first year was a whirlwind of
beautiful, confounding, "is this real life?' moments, which
culminated at our first ever appearance at the New Orleans Jazz and
Heritage Festival in 2010. We opened the Gentilly Stage at roughly eleven in
the morning. (Bit of a time capsule: I wrote a recap of that
experience back when this blog was hosted exclusively on MySpace. If I recall correctly, I spent most of that entry shaking my
fist at Eyjafjallajökull,
the Icelandic volcano that erupted and shut down air travel
throughout western Europe, which caused my parents to miss the show
on account of being stuck overseas. In the French countryside. Poor
intervening nine years, we've made eight more appearances at the Jazzfest
(including 2019), seven of which were on the Gentilly Stage. Jazzfest has always served as a watermark of sorts. I am reminded of when my siblings and I were kids,
and our mom would track our growth by marking our height on the wall
next to the refrigerator with a pencil. I'm not going to do the work
required to verify whether this is true or not, but it's plausible
that, over the years, we've played every time slot on Gentilly.It has been a long, meaningful relationship, and to
headline that stage after years of steady climbing was, well-
once in a while, I have these moments I call "beautiful house"
moments- as in, "this is not my beautiful house. Where is that large automobile. How did I get here?" I'm probably
misinterpreting the lyrics, but I always identified with that
sense of bewilderment, of looking around and suddenly realizing
"wait, this isn't a dream." Our journey has always been
one of gradual progress, of steady erosion. Think Andy DuFresne with a pant leg
full of gravel. It's easy to get lost in the grind, and I've found it helps to step back and take stock every once in a
while. Why hike up a mountain
if you don't get to enjoy the view from up high?
The point is, I don't really know how we got here. I'm pretty sure we took the stairs.
also had a between-weekends show at the recently-opened Fillmore New
Orleans, which, while less of a historic milestone, was a lot of fun.
Just a classic Jazzfest show with a great crowd and special guests
out the wazoo: Anjelika "Jelly" Joseph and Josh Kagler, The
Naughty Horns, Pete Murano, Nate Werth, and Roosevelt Collier.
After Jazzfest, the
band took an old-fashioned road trip up to Muscle Shoals, AL to
capture some live in-studio performances at historic Fame Studios. I don't want to talk too much about the session
itself, because sooner or later you'll probably be able to watch
footage of most of it, along with approximately seventeen hours'
worth of B-roll of us eating tacos and fiddling with our headphone
mixes. But I will say that it was really cool to get into a place
like that and walk in the footprints of absolute titans like
Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman, Etta James, King Curtis, and the bad guy coach from The Waterboy. Anyway, Fame
Studios is amazing.
friend whose thing I'm plugging today is Andy Frasco and the U.N.!
They opened our show at the Fillmore and by the time they were done, there was barely any stage left to play on because they just about burned the dang thing to the ground. If you haven't heard of them, they are absolutely nuts and you
should jump at any opportunity to catch them live because
their shows look like this:
Phew. I need to
sit down. This won't be news to everyone reading, but our very own David
Shaw recently appeared on Andy's World Saving Podcast and shit got real. If you've
ever wondered why Dave is "never going back to Snake 'n Jake's,"
all is revealed, and then some. Incidentally, Frasco starts this
same episode with a bewildered Jazzfest debrief that really conveys the
kinetic, chaotic energy of the week. I'll leave you with an embed that will probably work and a raw link below in case it doesn't.