The great musicians can conjure their muse in any situation. They can withstand commercialism, hubris and changing times. Listeners with great ears can also hear the artistry in any situation.
The rest of us struggle. On those rare occasions when we find our muse, then our monochromatic life explodes into technicolor. We desperately grasp at the feeling but the tighter we squeeze the more the muse slips from our grip.
I'm a listener not a musician. At best, I can play the stereo. My muse first appeared at JazzFest in 1989. Instead of desperately grabbing, I plotted to gently capture her. Career be damned, I made a commitment to live in New Orleans.
Ever since, I've been searching for that soul of JazzFest. I always find it on Mardi Gras day. I often found it at Donna's Bar and Grill and in the zydeco clubs of rural Louisiana. For awhile it was always on Frenchman Street. Sometimes I stumble upon it during my midnight to 3am show on WWOZ but then I squeeze it too tight and it disappears for weeks.
For festivals, the muse likes Chazfest and Ponderosa Stomp but it's more tentative about JazzFest than it was back in 1989. Yes, there are great musicians at JazzFest today but musicians like Earl King, Snooks Eaglin, Fats Domino, Cookie Gabriel, Johnny Adams, etc. are ones-of-a-kind who'll are missed.
Like you, I keep searching. Endlessly searching for the muse. For that technicolor rainbow that puts life into mere existence.
Tonight we'll search for the soul of that first JazzFest we all attended. We'll cheat by conjuring up the best of New Orleans. It's cheating because unlike our friends at JazzFest, we can book anyone and don't have a budget or logistics or contracts or personalities or even weather. Instead of distractions, we'll concentrate on finding the muse. The soul of JazzFest. Here's where we'll look:
Blue Lu and Danny Barker
Big Boy Myles
Huey and Earl Long
Wee Willie Wayne
Of course, there are too many for a three hour show but there is always next Saturday night at midnight.