By Sally Young, reporting from Ascona, Switzerland.
I landed in Geneva last week and traveled through Lausanne & Montreux, Switzerland. There are music festivals everywhere in Europe! Everyone is busy setting up stages and tents on Lake Geneva. Then I rode on the Glacier Express all the way to the JazzAscona Festival in the Swiss town of Ascona on Lake Maggiore. The opening parade featured Uncle Lionel Batiste as Grand Marshall, leading the Regeneration Brass Band.
Saturday afternoon, in the Sala Del Gatto Theatre, NPR's Judy Carmichael sat between New Orleans drummers Shannon Powell and Herlin Riley. Her show, Jazz Inspired, is being taped in front of a live audience. For the next week, artists will take the stage to talk about their lives and music. It was an honor for these two New Orleanians to start the series, and it was a special day for both because they were honored with the 2010 JazzAscona award after the Shannon Powell All Star Band performed in the Piazza Torre Jazz Club tent.
Fast forward to midnight, just after Herlin sat in with Shannon's band. This was their second appearance at the festival, and Shannon had already warmed up the audience. When Herlin took the drummer´s chair, Shannon moved front and center with his tambourine and second lined across the stage. The crowd was out of their seats, and the band was tearing up "Tootie Ma" and "Little Liza Jane".
Ascona loves the music of New Orleans!