Hope you warmed up to a Jazz Fest weekend

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Socks in the Frying Pan from Ireland (from left): Fiachra Hayes, Aodán Coyne, and Shane Hayes pose with Miriam Keane and her niece (center).

The New Orleans Jazz Festival has been alive since 1970, and the amount of popular acts continues to grow. While those popular acts might be the bread and butter that draws the big crowd, lesser known acts at Jazz Fest will always be the backbone.

Sunday, April 29 was a glorious day. It was sunny, sunny. Festival goers who had gone on Friday and Saturday said it was a little warmer on Sunday. But a good hat and a couple sunscreen rubdowns was all the protection needed.

Getting to Jazz Fest early is a thing that music lovers can attest is important when planning a good day, especially if you cannot get away for an entire weekend. The crowd is less thick in the morning. Seats are available even in the front two rows in the Jazz and Blues tents.

Local rhythm and blues band, Brother Tyrone & The Mindbenders, placed the crowd in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. Next, the John Mahoney Big Band said sit down and watch some jazz. When you don't get to watch jazz that often, it can be a spiritual experience.

That spiritual experience became even more profound when blind jazz pianist Henry Butler played old Jelly Roll Morton tunes. The secret was out for this special performance. Stories were shared in between songs about what it was like listening to the old tunes back in the day.

Lunch at Jazz Fest means one thing: Trout Baquet. If you don't know, now you do. After that settled, it was off to see Socks in the Frying Pan at the Fais Do Do stage.Aodán Coyne, Shane Hayes, and Fiachra Hayes transformed the fairgrounds. We may very well have been dancing on the Cliffs of Moher, or the Cliffs of Insanity if you know the movie The Princess Bride at all.

"We'll go home home tomorrow," Fiachra Hayes said. "The Lafayette Festival is great, as well. Great fun. This is our first time in Louisiana. It's like our fortieth state, but first time in Louisiana. Our agent got us in. Your guess is as good as mine. I'm not complaining."

Hayes said that they all have slightly different influences. They had the crowd jumping and hollering one minute. Then they had the crowd in tears with a romantic ballad in the next.

"Obviously the Irish Music at home would be," he said. "There are so many fantastic fiddle players to be looking up to at home. So many like my old teachers, old bands at home. But I suppose maybe outside of Irish Music, something like Bob Dylan or that type of singer-songwriter stuff is fantastic and inspires me. I guess a little bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival when I'm in the mood.

"Other than that there are so many good musicians from where we come from in Ennis that it's hard not to be inspired any time you walk up to town."

Socks in the Frying Pan of Ireland inspired one woman to come to Jazz Fest a week early just to see her hometown heroes.

"In all the years I've come here, I've never seen an Irish band, not to mention an Ennis band," Miriam Keane said.

Keane said she has been to 12 Jazz Festivals. She changed her flight the night before in order to make the show. She was so excited that she decided to stay in the greeting area and meet with them after the show.

This magical exchange set the sail for the rest of the afternoon. Some high school friends were festing. If you do it right, you could see all that by 2 p.m., then catch Irma Thomas and David Byrne's entire set before dawn.

God, thank you for Jazz Fest! Check out the full photo gallery here!