Sunday, November 17, 2013

Take a Trip to the 2013 Highland Jazz and Blues Festival

Columbia Park was once again deluged by music and art lovers yesterday for the tenth annual Highland Jazz and Blues Festival.  The weather forecast was dicey for most of the day but even though we had gray skies most of the day the rain held off and a grand time was had by all!

This is the tenth year for the festival; it began in 2003 and was much smaller than it is now.  The years have seen the addition of artisan booths, food vendors, and this year a Bark Park was added because the Highland Jazz & Blues Festival is very big with dogs!

The festival is great for the neighborhood and the community; you just never go to this event without running into someone you haven't seen in years.  It attracts music lovers across all demographic lines from the affluent to the quirky.  It's a great place to people watch.  Just toss a blanket on the ground, or unfold your portable chair, sit back and enjoy the day.

Steve and I arrived about 10:30 and staked out our usual spot.  We usually set our home base at the Pavilion Stage, center, near the sound tech.  Since there are two stages going, and you almost always want to see both, it's perfectly fine to leave your spot and walk from one end of the park to the other.  Nobody usurps your territory or messes with your beef jerky.

As early as we were, we had plenty of spots from which to choose.

We settled in as The Matthew Davidson Band was playing.

There was a giant bowling pin working the crowd this year:

And of course the dogs; we love dog watching.  This giant Newfoundland was adorable.  His owner described him as a big baby who is perfectly content to let you use him for a pillow:

I headed up the hill to do a recon on the food situation and found my favorite primitive artist Bertha Cooper Harris:

She had several of her original works for sale and copies of her book.  It looked like she was having a good day.

There were many food options from which to choose this year.  This booth had everything from Asian noodles to alligator on a stick:

Another good choice:

But in the end we both got hamburgers from the Some Like it Hot truck:

Fine dining in the park:

It doesn't get much better than that!

Besides food, dogs, and music there was plenty of art to walk around and look at.  I liked this colorful crawfish painting:

And there was a booth with some very cool wind chimes:

I wandered down to the Gazebo stage to hear Joe Nadeau and friends for a bit and found another cute dog:

The park is a beautiful site for this festival with its rolling hills and towering pine trees.  The leaves on the hardwoods were changing and raining down like confetti.  And even though the skies were gray for most of the day, the temperatures were in the 70s, so nobody was complaining about the weather.

Crowd favorite Buddy Flett was great, as usual.

And of course we have to have the annual Steve-petting-a-dog picture:

It's a dog's world and we just get to live in it!  Love the dogs!

We settled back into our chairs to listen to A.J. Cascio and his Two Tone Blues Band, and they put on a fabulous blues set:

AJ just tears that harmonica up and his band is always a crowd favorite.

The crowd was beginning to grow:

Another local favorite is the Jerry Beach blues jam; Robin Beach was pitch perfect on vocals and seemed to be having a good time with the crowd; Matthew Davidson came back up and joined in:

Something in the crowd tickled Robin and it was good to see her having a good time:

For the first part of the day they were having some sound troubles; not a sound-tech myself, I couldn't tell you what the problem was but every now and then something would pop and the sound would cut out.  The beleaguered sound man ran up and down that hill as he worked to solve the problem and communicate with the sound folks on stage.  It was a long day for him, I guess.

And the crowd grows...I took this picture from under one of those trees raining yellow leaves; if you look closely you can see them!

I ran into the fabulous Corina, owner of my favorite shop  Needful Things:

By the time headliner, Grammy winning artist Irma Thomas was to appear, there was barely a spot of ground left to stake out a spot.

The buzz grew as we waiting for her appearance.  I was standing near the stage so I could get a photo before settling in to enjoy her set; word down there from the techs was that she wouldn't come out until the sound was right.  I can hardly blame a professional recording artist for that, and the crowd waited patiently for forty-five minutes before she finally came on.

It was worth the wait.

By the time she finally came on the paparazzi was crushing the stage as were the fans.

It was insane.

But there she was...

Sounding fabulous...

Belting out those big tunes and wearing her flip-flops!

She thanked the crowd for their patience while they got the sound right, and I think she was forgiven for making them wait.

She had everyone take out their towels and handkerchiefs to do a Second Line dance

...and the umbrellas came out...

Even the dogs were dancing:

And then it was over.

The Highland Jazz and Blues Festival is right up there with Oktoberfest for me; it's my favorite local festival.  The admission is free; the festival is supported by sponsors and by sales of beer, water, t-shirts, souvenirs, etc.   It's a great way for the neighborhood and the community to come together and have good clean fun.

Each year the committee outdoes itself and I can't wait to see what they come up with for next year.  It gets bigger and bigger each year.  My only suggestion would be to add more beer taps.  You're allowed to bring your own cooler in, but the whole point of beer sales is to keep the festival free and to support the festival.  But when one beer truck runs out and the other has 150 people in line, I think more taps would be a good idea.  It is easy to miss an entire act standing in a beer line.  People will ultimately opt for bringing in their own rather than stand in line for 30 minutes.  It's not a big problem, but one the committee should address.

But, in the end, this year was a huge success and I can't wait for the next one!

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation

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