In this week’s edition of Photo Friday, I’m taking you to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which is a staple of late spring in the Crescent City. In January people start paying attention to the rumors and trying to figure out who will be playing the Fest. In February when the line-up video is released, plans are tentatively set. And then a few weeks later, the squares are released and you can begin mapping out your Jazzfest experience. There are people who plan their last weekends in April and first weekends in May around Jazzfest.
My first Jazzfest experience was in 2006, the year after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the year that Bruce Springsteen took everyone to church. The racetrack, which is where Jazzfest is held, itself suffered greatly during Katrina and the resulting damage kept the facility closed for over a year.
That first year at Jazzfest, and several other appearances as well. my main objective was to find a good spot in front of the Acura stage and keep myself parked there because really the only thing I wanted to see was whoever was on the main stage. As I’ve gotten a bit older, I’ve come to appreciate all that Jazzfest can offer. One of those offerings is the Mardi Gras Indians.
The official name of the New Orleans Jazzfest is the Jazz and HERITAGE Festival. While big name acts may play the Gentilly Stage (this year, the day we went, it was Van Morrison who closed the day) and the Acura Stage (Pearl Jam), there are smaller acts in the Blues tent, the Jazz tent, and the Gospel tent. On the Fais Do-Do stage, there are cajun and swamp boogie bands. The Congo stage is dedicated to the rich traditions of New Orleans’ Congo Square, which was the only place in New Orleans where black slaves were allowed to congregate and play music. On the Jazz & Heritage Stage, the Indians perform.
When they are not on stage, the Mardi Gras Indians parade through the fair grounds.
They are hot and tired. One of the features of Jazzfest is that it is going to either be blistering hot or a soggy, muddy mess. This year it was hot. Not as hot as it has been in previous years, but hot enough in my shorts and tanktop. I can’t imagine moving – marching – in up to 100 pounds of extra weight.
One of the interesting traditions that surround Mardi Gras Indians is that the costumes are generally individual and meaningful to the person who is wearing them. Personal. Each person makes their own costume and it is often handbeaded. That this little girl has a Dora the Explorer patch is interesting to me. I’m under no illusion that she made it herself, but it is almost a jarring juxtaposition to me to see Dora on her costume.
While the Indians are marching, they are chanting and singing. They are accompanied by drummers, and the marchers are putting on a performance. A long, hot, tiring performance.
Just looking at that headdress makes my own head hurt. I cannot even imagine how heavy that thing must be.
For me, that face says it all. Weary. Resigned. Ready to be done. I imagine that she’s been to more than a few Jazzfests and knows that her suit is only going to get hotter and heavier and her progress through the crowd is going to be stopped again and again and again for some one to take a crappy picture with their crappy cellphone…or a blurry photo taken at the end of a zoom lens attached to a DSLR.
After getting trapped in the Pearl Jam crowd, I have a tiny inkling of that feeling.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s Photo Friday! Stop back by next week for more images from Jazzfest. We spent some time in the smaller venues, and I found that I really enjoyed them. I hope you will too. Have a great weekend y’all!
Welcome to another edition of the Photo Friday link-up! I’m so glad that y’all are here and sharing your amazing photos!
Last week our most viewed link came from Betty at Photographing New Zealand, who shared some of the gorgeous scenery of New Zealand with us.
Our last link came from Aditi’s Pen who shared with us lessons learned from a year in London. If you missed some of the links added after yours, consider popping back over to check some of them out!
Without further ado, it’s time for this week’s link-up. Please remember to visit at least two of your fellow blogger photographers. The beauty of this link-up is the supportive community that y’all have created here.