clear
Thursday August 24th, 2017 2:36AM

The whole gumbo: Notes from lovers of New Orleans' Jazz Fest

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — For seven days, the blare of trombones, tubas, washboards, guitars and soul-stirring vocals washes over this city as artists perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Jazz Fest features an assortment of well-known out-of-town artists such as Stevie Wonder and Maroon 5 as well as the zydeco, jazz and blues music Louisiana is known for. This year The Associated Press talked with festival-goers, musicians and vendors to find out why they come to the festival and what it means to them. Here are their stories:

THE 'HOW YA GONNA CLAP?' GUY

Ray Hackett is the "How ya gonna clap?" man. His beverage holders on a strap enable festival-goers to keep their beers or other beverages cold while clapping to the music at the same time. He's a New Orleans native who now lives in Buffalo, Missouri, and has been selling his items at Jazz Fest since 1983. Why? "Income. Income opportunity. And I've done it so long that people come by and say. 'It wouldn't be Jazz Fest without you.' So it's fun. I see a lot of people that I've seen for a long time. Everybody is in a good mood and relaxed."

Hackett grew up in New Orleans, came up with his product and once his business took off, he was able to move.

"I have a farm up there (Missouri) and manufacture these in my barn. ... It's too much fun to quit."

GUITAR MAKERS

Gilberto Mendez Lainati and his father, Gilberto Mendez Mendez of Santiago de Cuba, the island's second-largest city, brought their hand-made guitars, ukuleles and laúds to the tent at Jazz Fest where Cuban arts, crafts and music are on display. Apologizing for his English skills, the younger man explained why he came: "We're here for demonstration of our job for United States people. We are musicians, but apart from that, we make instruments. My father has his group and I have my group in Cuba. Sometimes we play outside our country."

"It's our opportunity for present our job to United States -- mix together with people who come here and ask about our job. Interesting exchange of cultures," he said.

THE MUSICIANS

Drummer Jayme Romain, of Lake Charles, tried to explain his love of Jazz Fest while he walked around the festival grounds ahead of the set he'd be playing with his friend, guitarist Randy Ellis, of Thibodaux, and the Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band: "Everything. It's the whole gumbo and I love gumbo baby. Yes, ma'am. That's what it means to me. Love. Freedom. Peace. Music."

Ellis, for his part, says they play the festival "pretty much every year ... I remember when it was cheaper to buy a ticket and get in here than it is to park now. That was a long time ago!"

"It's the biggest festival in the country, music festival-wise. I don't think there's anything — and I've been touring for almost 30 years — and there's not much comes close to Jazz Fest," he said.

JAZZ FEST NEWBIES

Many New Orleans residents grow up coming to Jazz Fest every year. Not Lakeisha Jolivett and Francesca Bermudez. Bermudez came for the first time last year and enjoyed it so much she brought Jolivett. The big draw for these two was Nas, the New York rap artist: "I came for her birthday (pointing to Jolivett) and I came to see Nas," Bermudez said.

"Last time when I came to see Red Hot Chili Peppers I really liked the atmosphere, the food, just everything, how the culture gets together. ... We all get to be here in this melting pot and just enjoy music and music transcends all cultures, religion, race, and I think that this is something special, where you can actually forget what is going on and actually embrace each other and enjoy the atmosphere."

SO MANY CALORIES

For many festival-goers, the food is just as important as the music and for them, Crawfish Monica, is often the star. Chef Pierre Hilzim and his team of workers cook up the delicious food each year: "For food, this is fun to do," he said.

"It's been a great time. My children have grown up here, literally. They were not even a year old when they first started coming to Jazz Fest, and now they're here pretty much running the food, with me getting in their way," he said.

He said Jazz Fest really launched the dish: "It's allowed us to meet people we never would have met. We've fed three presidents, two popes, a whole bunch of heads of state, all kinds of celebrities and people, and they wander back here. I mean, we fed Francis Ford Coppola here one day."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Kipchoge falls 26 seconds short of 1st sub 2-hour marathon
Eliud Kipchoge was 26 seconds from making history on Saturday but the Olympic champion finished just short of becoming the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours
9:18AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Quick guide: How the French presidential election works
France is holding a winner-takes-all final runoff vote on Sunday to elect the country's new president
8:44AM ( 1 hour ago )
French watchdog: large amount of Macron data leaked
France's election campaign commission says "a significant amount of data" from the campaign of centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been leaked on social networks following a hacking attack
8:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
$5 purchase turns into $10,000 for Gainesville Rubber Duck Derby winner
The grand prize winner in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier annual Rubber Duck Derby took home $10,000 with a single purchase of a five-dollar chance at the prize.
9:11AM ( 47 minutes ago )
Country legend Loretta Lynn hospitalized after having stroke
country music legend Loretta Lynn's website says she has been hospitalized after having a stroke
8:24PM ( 13 hours ago )
Wilco, Dave Matthews on main stages at New Orleans festival
Wilco, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds and Earth, Wind & Fire closed the main stages at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Friday under sunshine, blue skies and a breeze
8:15PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Rapper T.I.: 'I have 2 or 3 albums left in me'
Rapper T.I. made his voice heard taking a yearlong stance against social injustice in the black community, but now he's refocusing his attention on returning to his grittier style rap roots.
1:18PM ( 20 hours ago )
Dave Matthews, Wilco and sunshine on Jazz Fest schedule
Wilco, Dave Matthews, Terence Blanchard and sunshine will be featured on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
10:51AM ( 23 hours ago )
Jerry Garcia's guitar truckin' to auction, could fetch $1M
Jerry Garcia's custom-made guitar, called Wolf, is truckin' to auction on May 31 at New York's Brooklyn Bowl
7:52AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Recordings News
Kipchoge falls 26 seconds short of 1st sub 2-hour marathon
Eliud Kipchoge was 26 seconds from making history on Saturday but the Olympic champion finished just short of becoming the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours
9:18AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Quick guide: How the French presidential election works
France is holding a winner-takes-all final runoff vote on Sunday to elect the country's new president
8:44AM ( 1 hour ago )
French watchdog: large amount of Macron data leaked
France's election campaign commission says "a significant amount of data" from the campaign of centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been leaked on social networks following a hacking attack
8:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
In Mosul, hunger grows amid slow advances against IS
As Iraqi forces continue to make slow progress in the fight against the Islamic State group in Mosul, food supplies are running dangerously low for civilians
6:42AM ( 3 hours ago )
French campaign watchdog examines election-eve Macron leak
France's election campaign watchdog is investigating a hacking attack and document leak targeting presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron that his political movement calls a bid to disrupt tense vote
6:21AM ( 3 hours ago )