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Jazzfest 2000

Back 'O Town by James Michalopoulos

A four-day voyage to the city that care forgot is like three weeks anywhere else. It as a smorgasbord of sensual pleasures, acoustic nirvana, visual delight and gustatory sublimity. For the 9th(?) time your faithful and humble servant felt it necessary to sojourn South and, Kid K in tow, we did it again. Starting out with the now trad broiled oysters and Drumfish Tommy at Drago's, it was off and running. A short side trip to BR fed me with some nice Thai comestibles and fresh Japanese plums off Andy's windowside snack bar.

Back in NOLA, it was time for the 6-String Shootout at Tipitina's. Tab Benoit, Kenny Neal and John Mooney worked the room for all it was worth and then came back to do it together. It was a 4 AM extravaganza and well worth the missed Zs. Jazzfest keeps getting bigger and bigger. I'm not sure if that's good, but this years first Friday was about equal to some years 2nd Saturdays. It was helped by a large Allman Brothers loyalist contingent. They were quite good and were joined by Susan Tedeschi and Butch Trucks. Ironically, it was one of the last appearances by the Allman's with Dicky Betts as he was fired shortly thereafter. To provide fuel for our finely tuned bodies, we concentrated on Louisiana fare and did well with softshell mudbugs, sautéed spinach, pheasant & quail gumbo... Most of the music also was local including a mind blowing set by H-town's Lil' Brian and the Zydeco Travelers and a great Marcia Ball set that was joined by Irma Thomas as they recreated "Sing It." The set at the House of Blues Stage with Coco Robicheaux was pure hoodoo. He chugged a quart of Louisiana's finest red (Tabasco) in tribute to his loud and spirited audience. My finale was the ridiculous and righteous Cowboy Mouth. They were enough for me to leave with my jaw dragging on the floor. Fred Below, drummer and lead vocalist demonstrated his acrobatic skills as he appeared on the roof of the stage, straddling the huge papier-mâché 'gator and climbed all over the speaker towers, mike in hand exhorting the rowdy crowd to even higher levels of mayhem. Backstage, he signed a stick for me following a particularly sweaty hug.

As usual, the time went by too fast but it was a time. I say that every time and it's still true. You owe it to yourself to experience NOLA. By the way, is $120 of CDs excessive?—Mark Gresser

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