May 31, 2003
That was the plan, six consecutive weekends of festing. The Crawfish Fest was the conclusion, and the festival that I'd travelled the greatest distance for (even though the main reason for my trip to the Northeast was to visit family). But again I hesitated, as widespread, heavy rains were predicted for the area starting mid-afternoon. And I'd seen Marcia Ball two weeks earlier (Addison), and the Radiators one week earlier (Shreveport), and Papa Grows Funk the night before (BB King's, NYC). So I wouldn't be missing out music-wise, if I skipped it. But several friends from the NY area were planning to be there, and I wanted to see them. So off we headed into the boonies of Northwest NJ, an hour or more from NYC.
This was the first year for the fest at its new location, the Sussex County Fairgrounds, but since it was my first time at the Fest, I had nothing for comparison. The Fest grounds were one large field with the main stage in front and food booths in back, plus a smaller stage in a tent near the entrance. The web site said there was a kids tent, but I never noticed it. Admission $25 at the gate.
The food wasn't bad, not nearly as good as Jazzfest, but better than most fests. Prices were on the high side, mostly $5-6 per plate, but portions were generous. Beers were $5.
From the forecast, we'd hoped that the rain wouldn't start till mid-afternoon, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. We walked in a little after 1:00, and within 15 minutes, it was raining. Hard. We quickly abandoned our spot front and center and fled to the side of the field, where trees provided a little protection from the rain, and the raised ground drained off and prevented it from getting too muddy. The rain would taper off to a drizzle at times, then start pouring a little while later, but it never completely stopped. Still, the music went on (the stage was covered), the fans stayed and got wet, and wetter, and muddy, and muddier; dancing and eating and drinking and grooving.
Andre Thierry was the only act I hadn't seen before, and he wasn't bad, cranking out some solid zydeco. Papa Grows Funk was next, and played a completely different set than I'd heard in the club the night before - at most one or two songs were repeated. What was unchanged was June Yamagishi's shirt. He seems to be wearing that same one everytime I see him. I wonder if he's actually got a dozen identical ones in his closet...
Marcia Ball was next. She was good, and played an extra-long encore. Apparantly there was some confusion about how long her set was supposed to be. No problem, the band was dry, unlike those of us watching. The Rads were okay, but it had been a long wet day, so we left 20 minutes into their set.
Had I known just how wet it would be, I wouldn't have gone. But I'm glad I didn't know, because I had a great time, and after all, you're dry by morning, but the memories will last for ages.
|Crawfish, in New Jersey? You bet!|
|Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic|
|June Yamagishi (Papa Grows Funk)|
|John Gros (Papa Grows Funk)|
|Let it Rain!|
Back to Swag's Fest Photos
Photos copyright © 2003 by Swag