We left Jackson at 3:30am. We needed to meet the big bus at the Festival Grounds at 8am so we could drive the Baby Bus in. We could have hung out at the hotel during the morning, but we decided it was better to have a place for the girls to escape to during the day. It's always good to know that your kids have a place to nap.
But the festival didn't start until 11. And the guys passed out as soon as we were settled, both of them having been up since 3:30.
And while I have a moment, I'd like to sing the praises of the other guy on the road with us, our friend/road manny Matt Eskey aka Earl Freedom. Matt is Dave's business partner in Any And All Media. He's a dad of two lovely girls, and he's played bass in Mojo Nixon's touring band forever, which makes him highly qualified for the road manny gig. And he was great on this tour, which due to the driving situation was a bit of an ass kicker. We laughed through the exhaustion and made many references to Spinal Tap. "They should envy us. I envy us."
While Dave and Matt caught up on sleep, the girls and I rambled. The morning rain cooled us down as we ranged all around the fairgrounds, checking out the tents and stalls before they were opened. It was definitely a highlight of the year for me.
Lisel took pictures of pinatas and dia de los muertos skulls. (I have a kid who takes pictures!)
We met the women who made this amazing Humpty Dumpty out of paper mache! Paper Mache is one of the many art projects we rock on the road, but never on this scale (yet.)
It was the road experience that I have always wanted, but am just now getting to have. Exploring back stages and beforehands with my girls. Breathing in the calm before the crowd. Paying attention to the world behind the curtain.
And really, exploring Jazzfest before Jazzfest opened was the way to go with kids. Because when 11am hit and when people started running (actually) sprinting into the grounds, things got pretty immediately overwhelming for my wee ones. We were heading towards the entrance to meet my cousin Amanda, so we were going the opposite way of the crowds. I felt Lisel's hand that she had been refusing to let me hold slip into mine as the crowds ran past.
Amanda was down for the festival and catching up with her while we walked through the early morning humidity, stopping to let Lisel lose herself in a stage show by the Wild Tchoupitoulas, or dig on the Red Stick Ramblers; well it was delightful. Here we were, cousins who had known each other forever, now mothers who were talking about the joys and trials of raising kids. Lisel must have sensed the comfort and ease and love between us, because she slipped her free hand into Amanda's as we made our way to the bus.
After the fairgrounds filled up with people and bands, our festival experience was pretty backstage oriented. It was so hot, and the kids were so tired, that we hung on the buses. Dave got to hang with and old friend from college, Steve Hochman, who is actually a well-know music writer, and who only appears once every 10 years or so. The backstage folks Jocelyn and Mike set us up with a backstage trailer after the shooting for Treme stopped (I would have liked to have watched the filming that was taking place on our stage. I mean, Steve Earle was hanging out for goodness sakes! But you know, kids).
The kids loved the freezing cold trailer. And I loved our pre-gig hang. We hardly ever bring them to the gigs. Show time is usually around bed time and we're rarely sure what the backstage situation will be, but Jazzfest was just a magical day. It was one of those days where you just keep thinking, "I am so lucky." And I am so grateful. And all the craziness of the road? It is all worth it.
Photos Courtesy David Lazaroff
Before the gig we saw more family. David, Gayle, Jeff and Julie Lazaroff were all there. I talk to Brothers Lazaroff all the time but the distance between Austin and St. Louis inhibits our ability to hug. And I got to hug them and their wives and communicate via friend telepathy from the stage as we played.
Photo Courtesy Jay Reynolds
Photo Courtesy John Lewis
If you haven't been to Jazzfest, you should go. I've been to some festivals, but never like this. Somehow this huge event seemed really intimate. The crowds didn't overwhelm. I actually happened upon a neighbor of mine, Ryan, who runs our neighborhood hang Cherrywood Coffee House, as I was trying to find the Cafe du Monde Stand. He was just standing there, talking on the phone. It was like nothing to see someone from home. And I felt lucky to have run into him as he was running a snowball stand near our stage! Snowballs are good for all festival goers, especially little ones like mine.
The post experience was as good as the rest of the day. We bought way too much food, more crawfish and boudin and eclairs than we could eat, and sat on the lawn while Rockin Doopsy played. And when the music ended we waited behind the stage and played. The Fairgrounds for Jazzfest are actually the Racetrack, and so the entire festival is ringed by wide sand ribbon, otherwise known as the worlds biggest and best sandbox.
So our kids played in the sand while the crowd wound it's way out of the racetrack. And Jazzfest was over. Before the festival started we has been privy to the pristine grounds. And now those same grounds were a sea of plastic bottles and beer cans and food containers. Which was beautiful in it's own disturbing, 21st century kind of way. We were there for the before, during and after. And it had all added up to be one of the best days. Ever.