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Jazz Fest Daily Diary

Published: 2003/05/02
by Jeff Waful

Thursday May 1

Thursday May 1
The Half Shell
9:15 p.m.
Today’s been one of those days. The phone’s been ringing off the hook and the emails have come fast and furious as plans for this weekend’s shows swing into high gear. Aside from the mandatory trip to Starbucks earlier, this is the first time I’ve left the room all day. The Half Shell is directly across the street from the hotel, and John Coltrane is blaring from the speakers on the outside of the building. Inside, two of Gov’t Mule’s staff are discussing logistics for "The Deepest End" concert slated for Saturday. It’s a major production, with multiple surprise special guests as well as a DVD and CD recording. Between the three of us, the cell phones ring nearly constantly throughout the meal. Over some hardy gumbo and fried shrimp, we trade horror stories and fantasies from our New Orleans experience.
Twi-Ro-Pa
11:11 p.m.
Robert Randolph & the Family Band
Twi-Ro-Pa is packed and the humidity is unbearable. The room is a long rectangular-shaped concrete slab with high ceilings (it used to be a mill). When Robert takes the stage, a bunch of New Yorkers up front are freaking the fuck out. One of them is wearing a Santa hat and I can’t imagine it’s comfortable, although maybe it acts as some sort of glorified sweatband. Annabel Lukins has just arrived from Colorado, totally unplanned, and she’s bopping around exchanging hugs with just about everyone backstage. Is there anyone she doesn’t know?
12:20 a.m.
Everyone from Dave Schools to Ivan Neville is in the house tonight, taking in the energy of the band and the club. The crowd is fired up, relishing the gospel and drinking the night away. From my vantage point, it’s just a sea of arms, raised triumphantly as far as the eye can see. Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno briskly walks on stage and plugs in, grinning. Moments later, he’s surrounded by women who have jumped on stage to dance during "Shake Your Hips." As the song unfolds, more girls join in. Next to me, the band’s production manager seems uneasy, unaware of exactly what to do in the situation. Robert shoots him a look, as if to say, "it’s cool" and it is. Again, it’s another quintessential Jazz Fest moment and it seems like there’s one every night, a scenario almost too trite, like it was scripted for a movie. In this scene, about a dozen females engulf the band, shaking more than their hips as the musicians smile wryly at one another. The groove is infectious.
2:04 a.m.
I’ve officially hit the wall. One week in New Orleans during Jazz Fest has started to take its toll on my body and it’s hard to get excited about more special guests. My throat has that tight feeling, like a cold is on the way. I’m all but out of energy and slip out the back door prior to the encore. Outside, the street is bustling with fans and finding a cab is a challenge. My brain is mush.
4:29 a.m.
It’s 4:30 in the morning and I’ve just finished working. I’ve decided to skip the late night festivities this evening, given the hectic weekend ahead. Finally, one early night – it’s actually still dark outside as I turn out the light.

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