Blues, wind and water at Jazz Fest

By Annelore Harrell

Years from now, when the New Orleans Jazz Festival is mentioned, someone is bound to say, “Were you in the Blues Tent on the Saturday afternoon when it flooded?”

We were.
What a mess.
The weather report was for rain later in the day and we ignored the fact that the skies were blotchy gray and the wind blowing sharp.

Our taxi dropped us off across the street from the entrance to the race track where the festival was set up and we joined thousands of jazz enthusiasts going through the usual drill of opening our backpacks and filing past security.

Been a long time since I had seen so many people wearing rubber boots. There was a tentative aroma similar to dirty diapers, a remembrance this was, after all, a place where horses reigned. Most of us carried folding chairs because the main event would be out in the open with seating only for VIPs. Stevie Wonder was the night’s big attraction due to take the Acura stage at 5 p.m.

For most of the afternoon, we sat in the Blues Tent, enjoying good old down and dirty blues while the musicians played their hearts out.

Aaron Neville’s baby brother Cyril and his Royal Southern Brotherhood exploded the stage. The speakers were three stories tall.

Every one of the band members was exceptional. Together, they were amazing.

We had third-row seats, which didn’t mean a whole lot after hundreds of fans came to stand in front of the stage and totally blocked our view.

Luckily, there were two super huge screens projecting the band’s image.

When Cyril’s band finished, the stage crew changed out the equipment. Roy Rogers and The Delta Rhythm Kings were on next.

By this time it was 3:30 and the skies were even grayer. No one paid a bit of attention.

When it started to drizzle, more and more people came out of the rain into the tent.

There was a crack or two of thunder, the wind really began to blow and the rain came down. Canvas on the tent’s roof made funny noises, but you really couldn’t hear much over the music.

Now, people who had been sitting outside in their folding chairs came in to get out of the rain, so did people who had been just casually walking around outside. More

Annelore Harrell lives in Bluffton and can be reached at