Monday, June 02, 2008

Big Weekend, Episode II

At some point during the evening, I decided I’d go home Saturday night. I missed Kathy. I missed the ferrets. And heck, I admit it... I missed crawfish.

This weekend was also the 19th annual Crawfish Fest at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in NJ, and we’d planned to go since before I knew when Wizard World was. Kathy and our pals Jay and Nicole considered going Saturday, but the forecast called for Hell’s Own Hailstorm, so they postponed till Sunday—leaving me the opening to join them.

Sunday was gorgeous—sunny, but with enough breeze to keep somewhat cool (although around 2-4, I did feel myself baking a little). There was great music there, and delicious food. Let’s cover the food first: jambalaya, crawfish bread, boiled crawfish (here’s me sucking the head of a mudbug), po-boys (I had a flat-out magnificent fried catfish po-boy), black-bottom pecan pie, bread pudding with praline sauce, pheasant/duck/andouille gumbo, and even some stuff that we didn’t try. Oh, the eating was good. And plentiful.

And the music! When we arrived, Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners were tearing it up. Then there was Bonerama, a brass funk band that erects a wall of sound from their 4 trombones, tuba and rhythm section. And when they play Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” or Led Zeppelin’s “Ocean” (as they did yesterday), you realize that brass really IS a heavy metal.

There was Railroad Earth, kind of a folky/blues jam band. Really accomplished musicians, and great to listen to. I took off for the shade while they were on, but my ears still got a treat even when I couldn’t see the stage.

Finally, there was Allen Toussaint. The man is a miracle, a genius, a national treasure. Between performing, writing and producing, he’s put more hits on the charts than I can count, from long before I was born. He’s the Will Eisner of pop music: so much of its DNA is his creation, and what he didn’t create, he perfected. And seeing him play piano, you realize it is as natural to him as breathing. I can’t imagine the hours of effort it must have taken to make it seem so effortless. Kathy and I were up near the stage, dancing all the while. At one point he played a medley of “A Certain Girl,” “Mother-In-Law,”* “Working in a Coal Mine” and “The Fortune Teller,” which he could easily have titled “Four Reasons Why You Love Me.” He's way too classy for that, though, so I'm doing it for him.

All in all, pretty much the definition of a good weekend.

*Have I told the story of how I met Ernie K-Doe here? I'll do that, and see if I can find the photo I have of him, his wife Antoinette, and a 12-years(!)-younger me.

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