Gumbo Sounds of New Orleans Cajun, Zydeco, Blues and Trad Jazz
Long Beach-Thousands of transplanted Louisianans and other lovers of all things of Louisiana culture gathered at the Rainbow Lagoon re-Christian as The Bayou for the 23rd Annual Bayou & Mardi Gras Festival. The festival presented by Comprehensive Child Development and Rainbow Promotions LLC was held on June 27 and 28, 2009. Throughout the weekend, New Orleans and Louisiana came alive with: continuous dancing to Cajun and Zydeco music on a large covered dance floor at the Bayou Stage, Blues on the Club N’ Orleans Stage; quick and easy dance workshops for all ages; music and cultural workshops, and a colorful French Quarter cultural arts & crafts Marketplace along with delicious gumbo, Crawfish entouffee, hush puppies, red beans & rice, and other mouthwatering Cajun and Creole cuisines.
Several noticeable changes were evidence at this year’s festival. A new VIP section with seats, tables and umbrellas to keep people cool on this day (Sunday) with its hot Southern weather. Festive New Orleans decorations graced both stages thanks to Events by Noonan. This year’s tented dance floor was dedicated in loving memory to Murphy Matthews Jr.
The festival was well paced with ongoing activities taken place non-stop all afternoon. The children’s stage/tent had additional activities to keep the young ones occupied. Dizzy Darby- The Clown provided Balloon animals and face paintings. Jamie Shaheen led the youngsters in a joyous sing-a-long. Storytelling by Preshenda, Hula Hoop Contest, Water Balloon Contest, Steve The Birdman, Bill Farnell Magic Show and Fun with Live Reptiles.
The Bayou Stage was pulsating with the sounds of Cajun and Zydeco courtesy of Corey Ledet & His Zydeco Band, Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys (Cajun), along with Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Cha’s. I’m glad that festival organizers allowed the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band to perform a full set before they led the crowd in the Mardi Gras Parade dedicated to LG Ravare as they seconlined throughout the festival grounds.
I have mentioned this before and it bears repeating here again “You Can’t Lose with the Blues.” Festival organizers presented various musicians who served “Blues You Can Use,” on the Club N’ Orleans Stage. Rose Gale –keyboards, Bili Redd-bass, Clarence Webb-sax, and Glen Mitchell on drums kicked off the entertainment with a wonderful interpretation of “Sugar” by Stanley Turrenetine and “Stormy Monday” during their all too brief set. Hoping that this group is invited back next year and giving a later slot to play at the festival.
Up next was The Bill Magee Blues Band from San Diego. The band consisted of Bill Magee-guitar, Jasper Austin-harp/percussions, Mike Jones (aka) Sandalwood on bass and Buddy Love on drums. This popular group played some low down dirty blues with Bill Magee setting off fireworks on guitar. They opened with “The Blues Is Alright” which was the agreed upon theme for the Club N’Orleans Stage. They continued with “Big Boss Man,” by Little Jimmy Reid, “Walking The Dog,” “Low Down Dirty Blues,” “Gotta Be Some Changes Made” then segued into “Changes” by Jimi Hendrix and “Messing With The Kid” by Junior Wells.
Bob Malone-keyboards/accordion is well versed in the piano stylings of New Orleans. One could hear traces of Professor Longhair, James Booker and Dr. John throughout his set. He chose materials taken from his four current CD’s Born To Late, Alone, Like It or Not and Ain’t What You Know.
Cafe R&B rocked the Club N’ Orleans Stage with some original tunes. The highlight of their set was “I’m Getting Higher,” “Born Under A Bad Sign,” “I’m Going Walking,” and a double entendre “Black Cat Moan.” You gotta hear this song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Leon Hughes (Coasters) & His Group took the willing audience on a nostalgic musical journey down memory lane. The group belted out one oldies but goodies after another with plenty of audience participation on “Poison Ivy,” “Young Blood,” “Charlie Brown,” “That’s Rock and Roll,” “Love Potion #9,” “Slipping In The Darkness,” “This Magic Moment,” “Stand by Me ,” “Under The Boardwalk,” “There Goes My Baby,” “Save The Last Dance For Me,” “Daddy’s Home,” and “Earth Angel.” I’m sure that you enjoyed this journey as you wipe away a tear from your eyes.
The festival concluded with a scorching set of blues from blues royalty. Blues legends Hubert Sumlin and harmonica player/drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith who both played in Muddy’s Waters band as they were backed by Jimmy Vivino & His East West Connection. It was brought to my attention that people were on the dance floor throughout this bands set. When blues were in its infancy this was the only music people were dancing to back in the day.