Bam. Bam. Bam.

Whew. What a weird day. Rain. Heat. Humidity. More rain.

Then, after mostly recovering yesterday, my poor hip started to hurt sooooooo bad. So I cheated.

It’s also been a very frustrating day  — make that week — when technology was not my friend. At any time. It seems like just about everybody need to download an upgrade. Processes that worked fine, stopped working. Notice there are no copyright watermarks. I could have gone back and redone them, but I’m tired of doing things two and three times to get to  square one.

Anyway.

The pictures. Kind of more of the same. That’s one of the reasons I’m not a music photographer, except when I want to be. Unless you are friends with everybody on stage and have incredible access — which comes from years of working with groups of musicians, promoters and venue owners  — even with pretty good mobility around the stage, the pictures are the same.

There’s only so much you can do. That’s why I go for decisive moments. For a little story telling pictures. For the time in between. Or, I have to schlep something like a 600mm lens so that I can make good portraits without looking up the musician’s nose. In the heat and humidity of a New Orleans summer, I’d probably get about 500 steps before I fell on the ground begging for water.

Yes. I liked the drummer a lot. I don’t know what he was seeing. But, I wouldn’t want him giving me that evil eye.

So.

They are what they are. Good music. Okay pictures. Tomorrow is another day. The thing I like best about the festival  happens tomorrow. The Jazz Mass and second line honoring Louis Armstrong on his birthday take place in Treme. And, with a days recovery time, I’ll be in fighting form.

Or, something like that.

One more thing. I’m sorry to all of you who follow me on Facebook. Their way of preventing “fake news” is to shut down the auto distribution. You can only do that if you have a business page. So, I reconfigured WordPress to send my work to LaskowitzPictures on Facebook. I’m in the middle of inviting you to follow me there. Again, my apologies.

Bam, Bam, Bam part two.
Just Guess.


Watching me watching him.

The Satchmo Summer Fest. Day one. Dancing through the raindrops. And, watching Navy jet fighters roar by overhead.

As usual, the music started on time — not like in a club. It was old school jazz standards played wonderfully by bands that look like they time shifted from maybe the 1920s. Of course, the music is mostly that of Louis Armstrong, played in different versions by bands whose members weren’t born when he was at his peak. I take that back. I heard a slowed down, sweet version of “Wonderful Life,” played by Preservation Band that almost had me forgetting to make pictures.  Now, that’s something.

I left early today, mostly because I needed to figure out recovery time. Working in the weather that we call summer is very draining. Even with proper hydration, I generally feel like a used wash rag when I get home. I need to rest a bit. After all, I am an old guy. Now, I have a better idea of what to do. For one thing, there are a lot of adult beverage companies that sponsor the fest. Enjoy them. Drink responsibly and remember that they work as a diuretic. That means unless you are drinking beer, have a drink followed by a bottle of water. Your body will thank you. So will the NOPD. Heh!

Luckily, I don’t drink. I also don’t eat when I’m working despite all the good food.

The discussion about the pictures is below the group. Read on.

The pictures. Hmmm. Knowing that I didn’t have all sorts of developing time, I made two sets of in camera files. I always make RAW files because that’s like a fully formed negative. All the data, all the information, is there. Anything else strips data out of the image file.

This time I made two sets of files. RAW and the largest JPEG files the camera could make.  The in camera JPEG files are what you are looking at. Pretty impressive, eh? I suppose if all I photographed was editorial work I could get by making only in camera JPEGS. But, my work is way more commercial than that. That’ll teach me.

Housekeeping day two. I’ll be even later tomorrow. I want to work at the end of the sets. I want to see and hear some of the main acts. They don’t start coming on until about 5pm.

What we came for.


Starting.
Starting.

A few more.

I try to keep my promises to you. So, here are a few more pictures from the Satchmo second line. I think I mentioned yesterday, that we honor famous trumpeter player Louis Armstrong with a festival. Three days of jazz in The French Quarter. And, a second line on the third day, Sunday. The day starts with a jazz mass which eventually evolves into a second line that walks through Treme. It closes at the festival.

These pictures. Hmmm. I like to work before the event. Most of the time. That’s when I can sort of pick my shots. I can turn the event into something else.

The opening picture needs to be big. Really big. In the print world of days gone by that would be the hero picture. The rest of the images just sort of fall into place. You probably notice the tuba player. Again. I like this picture a little better than the vertical version. I chose yesterday’s picture as more of a design element than because of its strength.

Oh. One more thing about the tuba player. His musical instrument is really a sousaphone. But, you’d get laughed off the street if you called it that. I really just like the shape. You can call it whatever you like.


Jennifer Jones, dancing woman.
Jennifer Jones, New Orleans dancing woman.

I think everybody is still in shock. I’m pretty sure that I am.

You know the story. Allen Toussaint passed in Spain after playing what would be his final concert. By all accounts, he was healthy, happy and enjoying himself while he played his songs for his fans. I wrote most of this on the day after he died.

To my mind, and to the minds of most of us, he was one of the most important people in the New Orleans musical world, along with Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino. They all changed music. His work transcended genre. The memorial sort of proved that. After all, how often do you see Trombone Shorty, Elvis Costello and Jimmy Buffett on the same stage? At the same time?

Sheesh. How often do you see Jimmy Buffett wearing long pants?

But, this post isn’t about big name international level musicians. It’s about a little of what I saw. It’s also about my attempt to honor a man — two men, you’ll see in a few lines — with my way of seeing. After all, every possible local and regional visual media was on the scene. They can out gear me, but I’ll be damned if they are going to out shoot me. You know that normally I’m not competitive with other photographers, but when I feel outnumbered by like — oh, let’s say 30 to 1 — my old competitive nature  sort of pops up again.

So, I hung with them until it was time. Then… when they turned left, I turned right. Besides, as I was preparing to go out for this, I received word that Chuck Scott — a legendary professor at Ohio University had just passed. He was directly responsible for how I think photographically. Maybe how I try to live a balanced life between work and home life. I’m not the only one. I can’t even begin to count how many young photojournalists he influenced over the years. I will add that he had been ill for a long time and still he was 91 years old when he passed. He didn’t die out on the road in some hotel room. He passed quietly at home with family and friends who were there for him.

The pictures. They don’t need explanation. They are what I saw. Except for the blue Rolls Royce. That might need a few words. That was Allen Toussaint’s car. Well, one of two. They were matching cars. One blue. One deep red. They were older models. He loved driving around the city in them.

So. That’s it. Well, except for two things.

https://www.gofundme.com/gk8bajd8

And, the most important.

RIP Allen Toussaint.

RIP Chuck Scott.

Final Walk.
Final Walk.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Trombone Shorty and Mayor Mitch Landrieu
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Trombone Shorty and Mayor Mitch Landrieu
Never alone.
Never alone.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Last ride.
Last ride.


Satchmo Fest
Satchmo Fest

This is New Orleans. We celebrate just about everything that moves. In late July and early August we hold a jazz festival called Stachmo Fest. We celebrate Louis Armstrong’s birthday with three days of music. All jazz. All kinds of jazz. We start with a French Quarter-based second line. On Sunday — yesterday — we have a neighborhood second line that starts in Treme and ends up near the festival music venues in the Quarter.

It’s a short parade. About a mile and half. That’s a good thing. That means for me it was about a three-mile walk. In the very hot sun. I think it was about 168 degrees. Okay. That’s an exaggeration. But, it was 97 degrees. At least that’s what my car thermometer said. The car was parked in the shade. And, the humidity is fairly low for us. Around 40 to 50 per cent. Even though I thought I stayed hydrated, I really didn’t. I returned to the car in a pretty stupefied state. The good news is that once a returned home I recovered pretty quickly.

To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure that a lot of us are not in great parade shape. It’s been six weeks. It’s like playing a sport. You can train, you can walk, you can ride a bike. But, those things are not like being in the scrum that is a second line. Worse, this is the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and combined with a music festival, there were probably more people taking pictures than there were walking in the parade. As you know, I’m pretty used to it. But, there are unwritten rules of etiquette. Many of these one time visitors with cameras don’t know or understand them. Oh well.

You’ll see more picture in the next few days. I’ll even show you a picture of the photographers. You’ll see. Too many photographers. Not enough music. Heh.

One more thing. See the grand marshal in the top picture? See the trombone player in the bottom picture? They are father and son. How cool is that?

Little second liner.
Little second liner.
Playing in the band.
Playing in the band.


The last second line parade of the year as a walk up to the first second line of the year.
The last second line parade of the year as a walk up to the first second line of the year.

Here we go. A weekend of second line parades and jazz funerals starting in a few hours. These aren’t the usual parade season ones. One was planned. It is for Satchmo Fest, usually held on the first weekend in August in the French Quarter. That’s because it partially celebrates Louis Armstrong’s birthday. It’s another tourist attraction is a city of tourist attractions. It’s is actually driven by the folks who market the French Quarter. This time of year is really the off-season. Too hot. Too humid. The small business people need something to help them make it through the slowest season of the year.

But, the Satchmo’s second line follows a jazz mass (Yes, we are a Catholic place) on Sunday in Treme. The neighborhood. Not the television show. It’s the real thing. It’s celebrates Louis Armstrong’s birthday. Even though everybody is invited, it is really a neighborhood thing since that’s where jazz was born.

However.

We are also walking for Lionel Ferbos. He was 103 years old. He celebrated and played a little music on his birthday. He passed on the next day. He was the last direct connection to the original jazz era that gave birth to the music as a genre. We start tonight with a viewing and music in Treme. We move to the edge of the 7th ward for the jazz funeral and second line on Saturday.

It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s as it should be for a send off.

As I reread what I wrote I realized it was something like… Jazz. Treme. Jazz. Treme. Jazz. Treme.

Perfect.


The tuba starts it.
The tuba starts it.
I meant it. Big bands use a couple of tubas.
I meant it. Big bands use a couple of tubas.
Then there are the trumpets.
Then there are the trumpets.

Second lines and brass bands go hand in hand. The band sets the rhythm and tempo for the parade. The bands are always brass. Sometimes they are just one group of musicians. A band… like Rebirth. The Stooges. Dirty Dozen. Treme Brass Band. Hot 8. TBC.

For this parade, the band was The Hot 8. But, they had help. Since anybody can walk in a second line, anybody who can play the music can join in. The music is pretty well-known on the street. Most of these musicians played in the big high school marching bands at one time. So, they know each other. Playing in each other’s neighborhoods is a show of respect. I once photographed a parade where Hot 8 started the parade, Rebirth joined in and Trombone Shorty finished it. Rebirth is a national act. Trombone Shorty is bigger on the national stage than Rebirth. He is the future of New Orleans jazz. They are all just guys from the neighborhood.

So check this out. The top tuba player is from the Hot 8. The bottom tuba player is from the Stooges and the main trumpet player is from TCB. The trumpet player to the right is from Rebirth. All in one band. On one day.

That’s how it is down here in my swamp.

 


Irvin Mayfield and band having a little fun.
Irvin Mayfield and band having a little fun.

Ervin Mayfield. He says that trumpet players are cool. He’s right. Especially in New Orleans where jazz originated. To me, jazz in any of its forms is a lot of fun. And, it should be. Imagine getting paid to play music on a stage in front of people who you are making happy. Other musicians do that too. Of course they do. But, in New Orleans you can listen to big acts play their songs right on the street and it’s no big deal. Irvin Mayfield and his band. I wrote about him a couple of days ago. He’s a local who has played just about everywhere and yet the Central City Festival wasn’t too small for him. That’s the way it is with a lot of New Orleans folk. Play in Madison Square Garden one night. Play on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard the next. Doesn’t matter. Just let people hear your songs. Sometimes smaller venues are better. The musicians get to experiment a little. After all, how many jazz bands use a banjo player? This one did.

Are these guys having a good time? Just look at them. You tell me. Keep this picture in mind the next time you are thinking about a career. Pick one that will make you smile. That will make you laugh.

The picture. Music and photography. Again.