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Love NOLA: You say festival, I say revival

To hear Brett Will Taylor's thoughts on how to put some fest in your tax day, click here for his commentary on NolaVie partner, WWNO/89.9.

This is the time of year when I always remember my first “fest-friend” (you know, the total stranger you bump into some Locals' Lagniappe Thursday, Second Friday or Boogaloo Sunday, party with all afternoon…and then never see again).

Brett Will Taylor (photo by Jason Kruppa)

Her name was Etta. We met at Zydeco Fest.  I remember Etta because she came out with one of the best lines I’ve ever heard in this city of great lines.

She was shaking her groove-thang to Terry & the Zydeco Bad Boys when some slick horn dog started trying to get into her, um, groove. He kept “oooo baby”-ing her and unloading a truckload of lines that I am sure he thought sounded good in his head.  Lines like, “You’re so hot, you are melting my daiquiri."  Please.  Zydeco Fest is held in June. It’s so hot in New Orleans in June that your 90 year old grandmother could melt someone’s daiquiri, without even putting in her teeth.  After a few minutes of his pestering, Etta had had enough. She turned to Zydeco Elvis, locked eyes and said, without slowing her swaying hips one bit, “I left a man for interrupting my music."

And dat, my friends, was dat. I’m not sure if Elvis left the building, but he sure as hell left the fest.

Etta made such an impact on me that I wrote my first NolaVie piece about her. She showed me how New Orleans music has the power to not only shake your booty and lift your soul, but also clear out unwanted pests.  Etta also clued me in to the fact that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who talk over music and those who listen to music.

With each passing fest, I find that I’m becoming more and more like Etta. I have left men for talking over my music. I have left women. I’ve left small children. Once, I even think I left my mother. It’s not that I don’t love being around people. I do. As Harold’s Maude once said, “They’re my species.”

It’s just that, for me, listening to music is like going to church.

And festivals? Shoot. You know what happens when you stir, cook and boil music over a three-, four-, ten-day festival?  A full-blown, down-home revival.  Dat's what happens. The kind where true believers can establish a direct connection with their almighty, be it the lord and savior...or Dr. John.

You don't mess with that type of spirit.

Now, that doesn't mean you have to be completely silent.  Heavens no.  If you want to join in the chorus with some "ohhh yeahs," that's fine.  If you want to stoke the flames of musical salvation by asking if I want a beer, that's cool (the answer is "yes"). Hell, if you want to help lift us all up by singing along--loudly and badly--that's ok, too (if the spirit wants to move in mysterious--and off-key--ways, who am I to judge?).

But, try to carry on an actual conversation while Anders is on the stage? Tell me about your no good boyfriend/girlfriend/dragfriend while Irma is doing a much better job covering the same territory? Talk about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book while Patti Smith reigns over Gentilly?

Ain’t nobody got time for that. Not while I’m at church (and not ever when the topic is Gwyneth).

Brett Will Taylor is a southern Shaman who writes Love NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his site at ashamansjourney.net or email him at [email protected]

Brett Will Taylor is a southern storyteller whose previous column, Love NOLA, appeared weekly on NolaVie.  He now shares his stories at Brett Will Taylor: A Storyteller and his Stories. Follow him @bwtshaman.