essays by shé

All That Jazz

Mom liked to travel. One Xmas, her wanderlust was severe. “Where do you want to go?” I asked, and she thought a moment and said, “New Orleans.”

“Okay then.” I agreed to go with her to Jazz Fest, which begins the last weekend of April and concludes after the first weekend in May.

The food! The music! We saw Miles Davis and met him backstage, as well as Irma Thomas, The Nevilles, The Marsalises, The Staple Singers, Nina Simone, BB King, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick Jr, Beausoleil, and a host of others. We second-lined parades, boogied in bayous, sang in the Gospel Tent. We danced our asses off, with a marching tune to get us back to our abode in the wee hours: “Feet don’t fail us now, feet don’t fail us now.”

Five years in a row Mom and I went to Jazz Fest together, moving to music from all over the world. She continued to go every year, and eventually moved there permanently.

“Where ya at, Mary Pat?” her friends would ask. Dancing. For as long as she had a body. Now she is Jazz Fest. Feet don’t fail us now.

Mary Pat VanTine dressed for success, New Orleans, circa 2000
Mary Pat VanTine dressed for success, New Orleans, circa 2000




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