We recently marked the 47th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and although I’ve never skipped a year, I must admit I no longer have the stamina for more than one day’s attendance. But the weather this day (after two of the fest days being filled with thunderstorms) was unbelievably perfect–60s and 70s, gentle BabyCakes–er, zephyrs (it’s only the local baseball team has morphed names).
The 12 music stages included many types of music — jazz, Cajun, Dixieland, gospel, some country, some folk, a bit of rock — but the predominant genre, this being, after all, a New Orleans heritage festival, was the outgrowth of what is now called rhythm and blues, but back in the day even in New Orleans was referred to on the radio as “race music.” Walking back to the car at the end of the day, I noted with a chuckle the scores of bicycles chained to the fence underneath a sign clearly ordering NO BIKE PARKING, and I was feeling very happy and mellow when we got into the car parked on Jeff Davis Parkway. Heading back toward Uptown, my pleasant musings were abruptly interrupted by the sight of about a dozen protesters with giant Confederate flags, across the street from the Jefferson Davis monument, which was protected by a temporary chain link fence and eight NOPD squad cars filled with armed cops. My spirits plunged. I’ve been here nearly three decades, and the only Confederate flags I’ve ever seen in New Orleans before were at the Civil War (nee the Confederate) Museum.