The weather was great for the first weekend of Jazz Fest. On Saturday, Becky and I rode our bikes from Uptown and toward the end of our 6 mile trek, as we were huffing along the Jeff Davis path, Phil Radecker came up behind me. "Get out of the way Svenson," he said while maneuvering around me like a man on a mission. Last October Phil’s mission was enduring chemo treatments for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He’s fine now and obviously focused on returning to a balanced life, which in New Orleans means attending Jazz Fest. As soon as we parked our bikes, Phil put on his special shirt, bid us goodbye and made his way into the crowd.
Becky and I had no formal battle plan, but we did have a pocket sized program.
Jon Cleary and Rockin’ Dopsie were at the Acura stage, which is where we met up with Ray Abadin, a law school classmate who practices law in Miami but comes to Jazz Fest every year with his wife Kim for musical redemption and spiritual rekindling. We also met Mike the Fireman from Chicago who comes here every year. I didn’t see this guy, but I know he was somewhere in the throng.
One of the greatest moments this year was on the opening Friday. They held a jazz funeral for Ed Bradley, the reknowned reporter for 60 Minutes, and a longtime fan of the Fest. The funeral was attended by Bradley’s widow, Jimmy Buffet, Rita Coolidge and other musicians. An official memorial to Bradley will now be a permanent part of the yearly event, as it should be.
This morning I went to the Camellia Grill for breakfast. To my happy surprise there was a notice on the window that Harry Tervalon was back for a two day appearance. I met a woman in the line who had come to town to do volunteer work for a couple of weeks (and, of course, go to the Fairgrounds to hear some great music). She said her employer back in California was happy she could come to help out for a few weeks. She seemed pretty happy about it too.
Last year’s festival brought a lot of wonderful people to town, but it seems like this year the good vibes are even stronger. Maybe we’re further down the road than we realize. The Army Corps of Engineers is still struggling, but apparently the "Corps of Mindlessly Joyful Dancers" seem to be doing quite well: