I played at the New Orleans Jazz Fest with Stevie Wonder on Friday, May 2, 2008. It was awesome! I arrived in New Orleans Thursday night, and stayed at the Sheraton downtown. I enjoyed my hotel room! I was up on the 31st floor, so I had a perfect opportunity to take some great photos of downtown New Orleans…except that I FORGOT to! Oops. I suppose I was more than a little exhausted. : <
After settling in a bit, I went to dinner with some of my bandmates at a restaurant called Deanie's and ordered Crawfish Etouffee. It was my first time having crawfish. It was a tasty dish. The crawfish reminded me of a combination of fresh water shrimp and lobster, but definitely not overly "fishy". After dinner, I went to bed early, because our lobby call for sound check was …drum roll… 7AM!!!
The next morning, I was in the lobby ready to go at 7AM! We went to the venue and did a sound check for about 2 hours and then returned to the hotel to have lunch, rest and dress for the show. Of course, I should have remembered to have taken a photo at that point, as it was broad daylight, albeit overcast…but noooooo, I forgot again : <
At 5:15pm, we took to the stage and I witnessed what must be the largest crowd I've ever seen. It was a veritable sea of people, stretching back for what looked like a mile and stretching almost as wide. I have no idea how many people were there, but some were saying it was over 100,000. I sure wish I had a photo of the crowd. Ok, maybe this experience will compel me to actually buy a new camera and remember to use it! It was certainly surreal to stand on stage before that kind of a crowd. Of course, in short order I had to block it all out and focus on playing my best for the boss! Stevie performed brilliantly, as always, and everyone immediately fell back into sync, though we hadn't played together in 5 months. Everyone in the band is so awesome. Just thinking about the blessing of the experience makes me smile. Wow…
After the show, I returned to the hotel to change into a more casual, yet still cute, outfit. When I returned to the lobby to wait for my band mates, I met Aaron Neville! He was walking in a determined manner towards the elevator, but took a moment to greet us all kindly. Gotta love southern hospitality!
I went to dinner at Mila Restaurant, where I ordered a mixed green salad, sweet potato pappardelle, and lobster en croute. Everything was delicious, but the pappardelle was amazing! I was enjoying it so much that several other people at the dinner ordered it and proclaimed it to be their favorite dish. After dinner, there was a private party held for Stevie and most of the band was there. Within minutes, a line formed of people who wanted to meet and take a photo with Stevie. I am continually impressed with how Stevie is so gracious and welcoming to his fans. I have never seen him be anything other than genuine and friendly to those seeking a moment with this musical icon. That can't be said of many other celebrities!
I flew home the next morning, grateful to be home safely, but oh so ready to take off again! As Bonnie Raitt says "I got to go…I hope you understand…"