ATX Style at NOJF (or... Marcia Knows NOLA)

Austin takes NOLA by storm. Really, there have been lots of storms.

Austin style? You can't get much more iconic than Marcia Ball, Alejandro Escovedo, and Doyle Bramhall (indulge me – Willie is not playing Jazz Fest). The three artists are representing the ATX with their signature Lone Star stylies. Doyle played last week, and Marcia and Al play this Saturday at the New Orleans festival. Marcia is a Jazz Fest 30-year veteran; this is Doyle's first time as a headliner; and Al a virgin.

Both took the time to answer a few questions about the experience. (Look for reports this weekend, after their shows.) For now, click below to read the interviews.


Austin Chronique: Is this your first Jazz Fest... A) to attend? B) to play? C) to play as current headliner, etc.? Please elaborate a bit?

Alejandro Escovedo: Yes, this will be my first time attending and playing the festival. The festival has such history to it, so I'm really looking forward to playing.

Doyle Bramhall: In the mid-80s I played drums with Marcia Ball and played Jazz Fest several times with her. More recently, I played with CC Adcock – a longtime friend and co-producer of my last CD. This is my first year as a headliner.

Marcia Ball: We've had the pleasure of playing the Jazz Fest since 1978. One year somewhere in there we didn't get booked and one year we got rained out. My son Luke was three years old the first time we played. He came with me, and my Aunt Faith who lived in New Orleans watched him while we played. We played on the same stage, the Gentilly, that we're playing this year. That first year I remember that the Thunderbirds, Jimmy and Keith, were there, and Roomful of Blues. I have pictures of them and also a picture I took of Professor Longhair. It was the only time I ever saw him play.

AC: Are you also playing/appearing on any other Jazz Fest bills than your own?

AE: Yes, I'll also be appearing at the Allison Miner/Music Heritage Stage along with Ruthie Foster.

DB: An onstage interview at the Allison Miner Music Heritage/Lagniappe Stage. Also, doing a signing at Borders' booth at the Fairgrounds.

MB: Not that I know of, but things come up. There's a great lineup of friends of ours on Sunday, April 27, including the Voices of the Wetlands with Cyril Neville and Tab Benoit followed by Irma Thomas on the Gentilly Stage and, later that afternoon, Delbert McClinton in the Blues Tent. We're not working that day, so that's probably when I'll do the festival for fun.

AC: Are you playing at other venues in New Orleans those weeks? Where? When?

AE: Unfortunately, not around the festival, but I will be back after my new record releases in June (6/24), I think sometime in July.

DB: [Doyle played last weekend at Chickie Wah Wah, dba, and the Louisiana Music Factory.]

MB: We have a full week starting Friday, April 26, at Southport Hall. On Saturday we're going to Baton Rouge for the Blues Festival there. Sunday off. Monday is WWOZ's Piano Night at the House of Blues. Tuesday we do an in-store at the Louisiana Music Factory. Wednesday we're at Lafayette Park downtown for a free show at 5pm, and then I go to Snug Harbor for an annual piano gig with Joe Krown and Tom McDermott. Thursday and Friday, May 1 and 2 we're at the Parish at House of Blues. Saturday is our date at the Festival at 3:45 between Henry Butler and Diana Krall. Sunday we go to Thibodaux for the annual Fireman's Fair.

AC: Are you playing Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette as well? Or anywhere else enroute on the way out or on your return?

AE: No.

DB: Not the Festival, but a show Saturday night at Grant Street.

MB: No Festival International this year. We did it for the first time last year.

AC: Will you have time to enjoy any of the fest (see bands) or will you be working like a dog?

AE: Ha ha. i will be working like a dog but will try to catch some music while I'm there.

DB: Probably working like a dog.

MB: We'll work a lot, sleep plenty, and I'll probably go out to the Fairgrounds on that one Sunday. Also, maybe on Friday, May 2 because a bunch of friends of mine will be going that day.

AC: Who (which artist) are you most excited to see?

AE: I like the Dixie Cups a lot, also the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. I'd like to try to catch Diana Krall.

DB: I won’t have time to see much, but the shows with CC and the Lafayette Marquis’ will be exciting and special – my stepson and I will be playing double drums and percussion together – something we have rarely done.

MB: I can't even narrow it down to a dozen. For one thing, I kind of avoid the big stage. It's too much. Also, I've found that it's not who you think you want to see, it's who you discover on the Fais Do Do Stage or in the Lagniappe Tent that blows your mind.

AC: Who (which artist) are you most excited to share a stage with?

AE: I'm looking forward to sharing the stage in the Lagniappe Tent with fellow Austinite Ruthie Foster.

DB: Barbara Lynn

MB: It's great that I'll get to see Diana Krall close up. I saw her a few years ago in the Jazz Tent, and I'm a big fan.

AC: What is your favorite aspect of Jazz Fest?

AE: The fact that I've never been, so this is a new experience for me.

DB: The variety of music and people.

MB: I really enjoy wandering around eating a mango freeze and following my ears. Also, the crafts and the art are great and the interviews in the grandstand areas are often really entertaining and the big artists are just sitting around talking in a very intimate setting.

AC: Any tips for first timers?

AE: I guess, ask me again next year.

DB: Verti Marte has the best Po’ Boys in the world! 1201 Royal St in the Quarter. Open 24 hrs, 7 days a week.

MB: Follow your ears, don't forget about the small stages and the grandstand areas. Get in the short food lines because everything is good and, like the music, you might discover something new that you love. Wear a hat and sunscreen. It's usually pretty hot so dress light. Wear some shoes you don't mind ruining. Pick up an Offbeat Magazine at your hotel because there's so much going on in town you'll need a program. Louisiana Music Factory on Decatur Street has a steady line-up of live performances all week. Free.

AC: Any tips on last minute accommodations, etc., as second weekend is usually packed out?

MB: It's often possible to find last minute rooms through the bargain websites. I'm always surprised. The chain hotels in Metairie are cheaper and really only a few minutes away from the heart of town.

AC: Would you care to share some of your New Orleans favorites (restaurants, dishes, bars, drinks, clubs, artists)?

AE: I used to love this club, The Dungeon. I don't know if it's still there. But it had a great vibe.

MB: One of the most popular booths at the Festival serves soft shell crab po-boys. The people who run the booth have a restaurant on Metairie Road called the Galley. Good food and reasonable. The Red Eye on South Peters Street in the Warehouse District is a very unlikely looking place to have great massive hamburgers and tuna steak sandwiches. Open late. Verti Mart on Royal Street in the French Quarter has famous po-boys popular with locals. Nola, Emeril's other restaurant, in the Quarter is still one of my favorites for a "nice" dinner. Brigsten's in the River Bend area is my other favorite but if you don't have reservations now, it's probably too late. Coffee and beignets at the Café Du Monde is not just for tourists. Eat fried dough with powdered sugar. Live a little. Don't inhale or wear black. Elizabeth's on Gallier Street in the Bywater is great for breakfast and lunch. Go to the A to Z Summer Restaurant Guide for Gambit Magazine's restaurant listings. Very informative.

For the nightlife: Frenchmen Street is hopping and the uptown clubs: Tipitina's, the Maple Leaf, Southport Hall, and the Rock 'n' Bowl have great line-ups of music. If you're in town on Tuesday and Wednesday, check out the Ponderosa Stomp at the House of Blues ­– two nights, all night, of roots music legends.

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Alejandro Escovedo, Marcia Ball, Doyle Bramhall, New Orleans jazz Fest, Austin artists

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