It always seems to pass in the blink of an eye. I, Count Basin, your esteemed chronicler of Jazz Fest, patiently wait 364 days every year (except leap years), counting down the time to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, dreaming of the annual music and food overload at the Fair Grounds. Then the next thing I know, the Neville Brothers are saying goodnight on the final Sunday of the Fest, my notebook and belly are full, and all that is left to do is wait for the inevitable reports of shattered attendance records.
But the Count's job wouldn't be complete if I didn't share my highs and woes of Jazz Fest with you. So return with me for a moment to the dust and Delta blues, the jambalaya and jazz, the crawfish pie and the crowds -- and let's relive the seven days of Jazz Fest 2001.
Best Bad-ass Brit
Richard Thompson was a pure revelation. Playing early afternoon on the first Friday, Thompson ripped through a solo acoustic set clad in his traditional all-black uniform of jeans, T-shirt and backward beret. Throughout the set, Thompson pulled a strong baseline with his fourth and fifth fingers while crunching his melodies on top, making a backup band pointless.
The topper came when he introduced "My Daddy Is a Mummy," a song he was commissioned to write for a school project back in England. "Just remember, there were two Memphises," he warned before launching into the song, featuring a rockabilly/Middle Eastern fusion, if there is such a thing, and the refrain: "He's inside a pyramid/ Close the door, shut the lid."
Worst Case of Soulus Interruptus
Al Green continued his unfortunate recent trend of refusing to sing an entire song, instead singing snippets of verses and begging the crowd to "help the Reverend out" on classics like "Let's Stay Together."
John Rankin's lefty National resonator guitar, a visually and aurally stunning beauty with rich tones that fell somewhere between a dobro, banjo and mandolin.
Closest Thing to Karaoke
New Orleans bounce rapper Katey Red appeared on the Congo Square stage with a purse slung over her shoulder as if she were ready to jet, and remained silent for much of the first few songs while her label mates Choppa and Junie B. carried the show. During her hits, "Melpomene Block Party" and "Local New Orleans," Katey didn't bother to rap many of the lyrics, and didn't seem to know the order of the songs, but that didn't matter because her pre-recorded vocals were included on the album tracks that accompanied the performance.
Most Philosophically Opposed Couple
Toward the end of the first Saturday at the Fest, a considerate thirtysomething female went about cleaning up several cases worth of empty beer cans scattered about her group's area. Less than a minute into the clean-up, her sunburned and shirtless husband said, "Stop it, honey. They have people that do that."
Best Hangover Helper
Heading into the weekend rounds of the Compaq Classic tied for 63rd, golfer Jonathan Kaye was doing the smart thing Friday night and resting up for his 8:19 a.m. tee time Saturday morning. Then his caddie scored two tickets to the sold-out Widespread Panic concert at the Municipal Auditorium. The 29-year-old Kaye went, and, with the concert lasting well past 2 a.m., did not fall asleep until 3:30 a.m. He shot a smoking 8-under 64 on Saturday on two hours of sleep, bounding up the leader board to a tie for 15th place. Acknowledging the band's effect on his game, Kaye told reporters on Saturday, "Hell, I wish they were playing again. I'd go tonight."
Best Introduction of a Sing-Along
Mike West implored the crowd at the Sheraton Fais Do Do Stage to sing along to his song, "Lordy Lordy." He first explained he could only do Baptist sing-alongs: "I tried Catholic sing-alongs, but they were all in Latin."
Best Example of a Fine Whine
Little Jimmy Scott is an acquired taste; either you marvel at his idiosyncratic, feminine vocals, or you don't. But judging from the warm reception he received in the BET on Jazz/WWOZ Jazz Tent, the majority of the crowd was behind him on the first Saturday. The 76-year-old was dressed to the nines in a shiny, not-quite-sharkskin evergreen tuxedo with black shirt and black tie. Working with his small combo, the Jazz Expressions, Scott began reworking standards such as "All of Me," his weathered vibrato walking on a tightrope. Seemingly lost in his songs, Scott would unconsciously outstretch his arms in delight, which seemed especially fitting on "Embraceable You."
Most in Need of a Timex
Lucinda Williams started 20 minutes late, Femi Kuti was 15 minutes late, and Mystikal showed up an hour after his scheduled starting time. Buckwheat Zydeco and Wilson Pickett were equal offenders, except they couched their tardiness in old-school revue style, letting their backing bands eat up the first 20 minutes of their respective sets with lame cover songs.
Most Sensitive to All Fans
While showing once again why she's still the Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas insisted that a signer get up onstage with her so that hearing-impaired fans could read the lyrics he was signing. "I want everyone to enjoy this," she said as she ordered him into the right position, much to the delight of the Acura Stage fans.
Best Reason to Be a WWOZ Brass Pass or WWOZ Blues Pass Member
The WWOZ hospitality tent, much like the House of Blues hospitality tent, is more of a needed refuge than an elitist Valhalla. But also, the WWOZ tent provided what seemed like an unlimited supply (and variety) of fresh fruit from George's Produce: strawberries, apples, oranges, three different melons, kiwi. And instead of beer or soft drinks, the tent focused on water.
Most in Need of HowAhYa Shirt and Shorts
The Fair Grounds is a great venue to let your freak flag fly. But, c'mon, some restraint and decency is still needed. Case in point the very, very (emphasis on very) obese man cruising the track, smoked boudin in hand, wearing nothing but skin-tight speedos.
Best Example of a Superstar Hitting the Wall
Rocking a bug-eyed crowd with his trademark captivating stage presence, slick saxophonist Karl Denson introduced mega-star Lenny Kravitz to the Tipitina's stage on the final Saturday night (actually Sunday morning, with the show starting at 3 a.m.). Kravitz performed the first set on guitar, and ambidextrously switched to drums for the second set. Coming out for an encore that began at 7 a.m., Kravitz was again on guitar, appearing wasted and weary. Mid-song in the encore, Kravitz abruptly unhooked his guitar belt, stumbled off the stage and headed straight for the Napoleon Street exit, where he slumped into a limousine waiting curb side.
Best Non-Alcoholic Six-Pack
"If you're going to go 'Beng Beng Beng' in weather like this, you better have a bath of cold water waiting for you," Femi Kuti said, introducing his controversial love song. Then he promptly ripped off his jacket to reveal an astonishing set of abs visible from 50 feet back, and his sexy ensemble transformed the whole Congo Square area into a tribal-groove fantasy land.
We enjoyed the one with a simple slab of meat flapping in the air, but the best identifying object was the "Panty Pole." This elaborate piece of festival apparatus had six pairs of multi-colored, multi-patterned thong panties stretched on an elevated display pole. Its keeper insisted that he was "not in it for the publicity," but he advised those around him to log on to www.pantypole.com for more info.
Best Family Set
"I'm a spy from the Congo Nation," announced Donald Harrison Jr., who drew from the spirit of his ancestors. The son of Big Chief Donald Harrison Sr. of the Guardians of the Flame, the jazz saxophonist filled his set with his Mardi Gras Indian roots, even donning a "crown" (headpiece) and dancing Indian style around the stage. A highlight of the festival, Harrison's set jumped with energized aggression and imagination that flowed from the saxophonist's horn. Carrying on the jazz and Indian traditions were his nephews, trumpeter Christian Scott and Chief Brian Nelson, and drummer Ocie Davis really strutted his stuff.
Second Best Family Set
The inspiration of the late great Jessie "Oop Poo Pah Doo" Hill loomed over the House of Blues Stage when his grandson, James Andrews, got rolling. It was New Orleans all the way as Andrews dug into "Big Chief" as he pranced and danced at the edge of the stage, engaging the audience with his raucous personality. June Yamaguchi's guitar reeled behind the trumpeter and vocalist on "Got Me a New Love Thing," while the willing crowd sang the refrain, "But I don't care." Andrews' brother Troy "Trombone" Shorty was onboard with the two siblings trading off accents on the timbales.
Third Best Family Set
During Crönk's casual sex anthem "We Can Be Lovers," Pretty Tony said, "I can't believe I'm singing this song in front of my mama."
Kidd Jordan was riled by Quint Davis' comments in The Times-Picayune that day ("Kidd Jordan is not on the beaten track ... that's not music the average listener is going to be able to understand."), and when Kidd gets mad, look out. Jordan's saxophone wailed with even more energy than usual, with special guest Joel Futterman ripping the keys up like the son of Cecil Taylor.
The New Orleans Nightcrawlers have kicked it up a notch. Adding Brent Rose to an already smoking horn section added more fire, and Matt Perrine sounded like he was on a personal mission to show that the Nightcrawlers are part of the city's top brass.
Best Non-Advertised Louis Armstrong Tribute
The Pfister Sisters were one of the best examples of heritage still at Jazz Fest, and pulled off a stirring double homage to Satchmo and their primary inspiration, underappreciated New Orleans legends the Boswell Sisters. "Jazz vocal harmonies started right here on Camp Street with the Boswells, and their arrangement of this song was one of Armstrong's favorites," the Pfisters announced before a sublime version of "When It's Sleepytime Down South."
Anything with the name Armstrong or the word trumpet on it this festival was a great bet, and the Summit with Dwayne Burns, Kermit Ruffins and Benny Powell didn't disappoint. Burns hit some great notes, and Kermit Ruffins was his usual swinging, soulful self -- but the real hero was trombonist Benny Powell, whose joy at being back in New Orleans rang out of the bell of his horn and washed everyone listening in his happiness.
Most Tortured Attempt at Hipness
Quint Davis tried to reference one of Lucinda Williams' songs as he introduced her, saying, "Now Jazz Fest is going to give her back her joy." Ai-yi-yi.
Best Lucinda Williams Set
After a long-overdue big stage appearance that disappointed many fans by eschewing most of her hits, Lucinda wowed the standing-room-only crowd at the Music Heritage Stage with acoustic performances that included a slow-burn version of her New Orleans paean "Crescent City."
Best Reason to Keep Booking North Louisiana Bands
The Lightning Bugs had a fiddle and a horn, a little bit of country and a little bit of blues -- and a whole lot of Dorothy Prine, a black-sequined clad pot of boiling soul who shimmied all over the stage and sounded like a combination of Etta James and Irma Thomas.
Best Justification for the Ri-freaking-diculous Crowd at the Acura Stage The Second Saturday
The out-of-control bathroom lines caused desperation bladder-induced dancing that had nothing to do with the music; the often-disgruntled audience spilled out well past the Fairgrounds' perimeter track, and trying to get from your blanket to the drink tents and back seemed like a hardcore military war exercise -- but much was temporarily forgiven when Lenny Kravitz popped out to join the Dave Matthews Band on a well-received cover of "All Along the Watchtower." Then, Paul Simon stepped out for a guest appearance, taking the lead as he jammed with a clearly starstruck Matthews to "Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard" in a performance that outlasted Simon's own solo version of the song during his Jazz Fest set the day before.
Best New Promotion By the Lakeview Neighborhood Association
Peter Holsapple opened his set on the Sprint PCS stage with a lusty, soulful cover of Ray Davies' "This Is Where I Belong," wearing a T-shirt that said 'I Love Lakeview.'
Best Invention Waiting to Happen
A new patent idea that cropped up between strangers in the Mist Tent: a portable umbrella attachment with a water-bottle base that sprays a fine mist over the user. And, speaking of the Mist Tent, we give five umbrellas to Jazz Fest organizers for adding another one of these sorely needed and much-appreciated amenities this year.
Best True-Meaning-Of-Jazz Fest Gesture
Clare Conley of Maryland and her pink pig windsock have been a dedicated fixture near the Acura/Ray Ban stage for the past 14 years, but she had to cancel this year's trip because of her mother's death. Her friends raised a Maryland flag at her regular spot in her absence, prompting others who had met Clare at Jazz Fest in the past -- and heard why she wasn't at the Fairgrounds this year -- to seek out the flag and drop off a beer in her honor.
Best Spectacle You'll Never See In Church
A clutch of "butterfly girls" wearing butterfly wings, body sparkle and shimmering outfits grooved in the Gospel Tent as McDonogh 35 Gospel Choir brought down the house with their rendition of "The Sanctuary."
Best Moment That Could Make A Grown Man Cry
Aaron Neville stepped out during Paul Simon's set to join him in an ethereal rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" -- a song Neville covered on his gospel CD Devotion -- bringing the crowd to a near-hush and prompting some audience members to wonder why Neville didn't accept Simon's on-stage invitation to sing more than one section of the song. Even the music from the adjacent Congo Square stage, which at times threatened to dominate Simon's performance, seemed to quiet down for this one.
Most Savvy Marketing
Considering the disruption that Louisiana food can often bestow upon the bowels of the uninitiated, Pepcid AC's move to hand out free packets of their heartburn medication at the entrance gates to the Fair Grounds was a savior to many.
Most Savvy Marketing, Part Two
Local promotion group Superfly Presents worked hard in pursuit of the almighty name recognition, selling Superfly T-shirts and headbands alongside performers' merchandise at their mostly sold-out shows. Entrance to a night show of a Superfly sponsored act was followed with a bold -- and hard to remove -- ink stamp reading: FLY.
Best Tip of the Hat
Jamal Batiste and the Jam-Allstars dedicated a hot version of "Street Parade" to "our late, great cousin Milton Batiste," the flamboyant trumpeter whose death on March 29 at age 66 still smarts to many New Orleans music fans.
Best Spontaneous Second Line
Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers' set seemed tailor-made to ingratiate themselves to the many Deadhead-esque fans at the Fais Do Do stage, who raised a big cheer during his cover of "Iko Iko" and segue into "Hey Pocky Way." A subsequent version of "Jambalaya" prompted audience members to form a second line, coiling around the crowd waving whatever they had on hand: feather boas, bras, handkerchiefs, hats, tank tops, and a beer huggie reading "Remember My Name, You'll Scream It Later."
Best T-Shirt for Louisiana
"Corporate Polluters Ate My Brain"
Best Sight for Sore Eyes
After a year's hiatus from the main stage -- which caused a considerable outcry around town -- the likeness of Professor Longhair was back where it belonged, lording over the Acura stage.
Armed with his alto saxophone, Aaron Fletcher almost got away with stealing two shows on the Fest's opening day. Even among the eight heavy hitters at the duel between the New Orleans Saxophone Quartet and the Winds of Change, young saxophonist Fletcher stood out as one bad hombre. At the very next set with vocalist Phillip Manuel, Fletcher continued his spree with an onslaught of imaginative and on-target solos.
Best Glimpse of the Future
Jazz Fest early birds and students from area schools enjoyed the tremendous impact of Mahalia Jackson Mass Choir's 250 voices at Thursday's Kids Day in the Gospel Tent. The ensemble, made up of kids from McDonogh 35, Sarah T. Reed, Warren Easton, George Washington Carver and Joseph F. Clark, wowed the audience with its stop-on-a-dime precision on the fast-paced "The Lord Is Blessing Me Right Now." Guest vocalist Jonte Short stepped out for a stunning solo that demonstrated her tremendous range and power, and it wasn't surprising to learn that Short is a member of the talented family of choir founder Lois Dejean.
Best Tour Guide
Piano giant Randy Weston, along with his hugely talented African Rhythms band -- trombonist Benny Powell, saxophonist Talib Kibwe, bassist Alex Blake and percussionist Neil Clarke -- were at once totally accessible and musically demanding. They traveled from the straight-on jazz of Weston's classic "Little Niles" to the music of Africa's Gnawan healers, and back to American shores for the encore with a taste of "C.C. Rider."
Worst Stage for Dancing
The Lagniappe Stage. The layout and rows of chairs just aren't appropriate for bands like the Soul Rebels brass band or the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars, whose fans need some room to buck-jump and/or shimmy.
Tell Automatic Slim and Fast Talking Fanny that Koko Taylor is still the Queen of the Blues. When she opened her mouth and let the shout out, she embodied all the blues, from Mississippi to Chicago to Texas to Louisiana to Senegal.
Most Unlikely Imitation of the Godfather of Soul
Nicholas Payton once again showed that sometimes more is better, as he took his 11-piece orchestra through the paces during his Armstrong Centennial Celebration on the first Saturday. Invariably, Payton would set the audience up with his band, which ripped through swinging versions of classics like "Potato Head Blues and "St. James Infirmary" (the latter introduced ominously by Ruben Rogers' bass). And, just as the crowd thought that was enough, Payton would step up the mic and blast away at his trumpet, shifting between sheer power and intricate melodies. For the close of the set during "I'll Be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You," all 11 bandmembers were whipping towels in the air, and the entire Jazz Tent was dancing and screaming -- so Payton ran up to the microphone for the last verse and did a James Brown deep-knee drop and funky scream to finish the song.
Best Incognito Transportation
The casually dressed man wearing a straw hat and riding a bicycle in the Fair Grounds' front parking lot early Friday morning was none other than Allen Toussaint.
Best Culinary Advice
When an audience member at Zatarain's Food Heritage Stage asked RioMar's Adolfo Garcia what he could substitute for white wine in his Catalan seafood stew, Garcia thought a moment and said, "If you don't like wine, I think you got a problem."
The beautiful suit of Big Chief Kevin Gooden sparkled brilliantly even though the sun on Saturday morning was hidden in the clouds. When the chief sang "Sew, sew, sew... all day long," the results of his work were visible. The expanse of the Stage One made a great venue for the Flaming Arrows Mardi Gras Indian gang. Council Chief Alfred Doucet, whose suit depicted voodoo queen Marie Laveau, offered up his song with modern rhythms that were akin to hip-hop.
Best New Idea to Put the 'Fais Do Do' Back in the Fais Do Do Stage
As collapsible chairs start to squeeze out the area usually filled with Cajun and zydeco dancers in front of Fais Do Do, maybe it's time to consider building an actual wood-plank dance floor in front or to the side of the stage. It would be in keeping with south Louisiana's dance heritage, and out-of-towners enjoy watching the locals do their twists and twirls. Other festivals -- including the Crawfish Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. -- build similar dance floors. And of course, the Fest can always get a corporate sponsor (The Reebok/Home Depot/Dr. Scholl's Fais Do Do Dance Floor?) to foot the bill.
Best Message of World Unity
The sway and peace and love message of reggae music always feels right at Jazz Fest --and the sound of Jamaica's Abyssinians filled the time slot made available by the cancellation of the Mahotella Queens. The group opened its set with the three vocalists reverently kneeling. "That's all we spread, the message, the message," declared its lead singer, and the band offered that sentiment through provocative harmonies and joyous dancing.
Most Unexpected Message of World Unity
After fronting a set of Cajun, Texas swing and Creedence tunes, the Hackberry Rambler's Glen Croker hushed the crowd at the Fais Do Do Stage. "Let's get serious for a minute," he said. "Ladies and gentlemen, sometime this evening, please pray for peace in the Middle East."
Best Gospel Aerobics
As the Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries was bringing the Gospel Tent to a rousing finish for the second Saturday, a soloist first brought the crowd to its feet, and then instructed them to hop up and down for the remainder of the song.
Best Repeated Native American References to Demi Moore
The acclaimed pow-wow group Black Lodge from White Swan, Wash., made heads turn with their haunting vocals and lyrical references to various movie stars, especially Ms. Moore, whom they say couldn't hold a candle to an Indian girl.
Most Listless Crowd Response to "YMCA" in Music History
Bourbon Street entertainer/club-owner and (for some reason) perennial Jazz Fest artist Chris Owens unleashed a Village People medley on the Cox Communications/Economy Hall Tent crowd. Jazz fans at the venue, many of whom were there to claim their seats for the upcoming Wendell Brunious and Louis Armstrong alumni sets, didn't make it past the "Y."
Biggest Shock in the Gospel Tent
The curious outnumbered the worshipful to see just what the "St. Paul Spiritual Church of God in Christ Choir with Michelle Shocked" show was all about. What they got was the singer temporarily suspending her folk, punk, swing, funk and, most recently, brass band personas, instead announcing her literal conversion to gospel. "This is one place I'm not going to apologize for saying the name Jesus. I came for the singing but I stayed for the song," she preached in an accent that seemed to veer between Southern evangelist and south of Wales. Despite her unlikely stage appearance -- surely the tightest jeans and most-displayed belly button in Gospel Tent history -- Shocked's two solos proved her voice was angelically adaptable to gospel.
Cajun legend D.L. Menard's wife, Lou Ella, passed away in early April. He nonetheless appeared for his Jazz Fest show, and in mid-set announced he would be performing a song he'd written with Lou Ella. Before singing, he translated the French lyrics, which happened to be about a funeral and the loss of a friend.
It All Does Blend Together After Awhile
During a blistering set that showcased their many talents, Los Hombres Calientes captivated their audience with an international tour. Mixed in with stops in exotic ports of call such as Cuba and Brazil, reggae singer Early Brooks tried to pump up the crowd with chants of "Jazz Fest 2000!"
Night Shows with the Best Buzz
Injuns a Comin' Benefit at Tipitina's, Piano Night at Generations Hall, Femi Kuti at House of Blues, Howard Tate at Circle Bar, Ben Harper with the Five Blind Boys of Alabama at State Palace Theater, Ozomatli at Howlin' Wolf, Joshua Redman at Rosy's.
Best Excuse to Say We Told You So to Jazz Fest
From Gambit Weekly's March 6 issue:
"Jazz Fest organizers have seriously underestimated Dave Matthews' popularity -- and set up the biggest crowd and logistical nightmare in Jazz Fest history. ... You don't have to be a mathematician to figure out that Matthews can now easily sell 50,000 tickets for a single show in his sleep. ... If form holds at his Jazz Fest performance, Matthews' fanbase alone at the Fair Grounds will account for what usually comprises an average day's attendance at the Fest."
HEDE: Requiem for a King
SUBHEDE: For zydeco fans, the death of Boozoo Chavis turned the second weekend of Jazz Fest into a time of stories, song tributes and mourning.
CUTLINE: Boozoo Chavis in the studio earlier this spring, recording what would be his final album.
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Barbara Roberds
"As those of you who know us know, my mom is the boss, and my dad was the supervisor. The boss said to come here, so that's what we did."
These words were spoken by Charles Chavis, his rubboard hanging from his shoulders, to the crowd assembled at the Mid City Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl on Sunday, May 6. The night had long been billed as The King vs. The Kid, a zydeco showdown between Boozoo Chavis and Keith Frank, the elder statesman and the young buck. The event was in the tradition of similar glorious Jazz Fest nights, when Boozoo, Charles' father, would emerge from behind the bowling pins in a cloud of smoke and be transported to the stage in a sultan's chair.
Tonight was to be yet another of these memorable nights. But early the previous morning, Boozoo Chavis died in a hospital in Austin, Texas. He had suffered a heart attack a week before, and while in the hospital, he had a stroke. He was 70.
Not too many people die knowing they launched a renaissance. Boozoo knew. Classic songs like "Paper in my Shoe" dated back to the 1950s, but it was when the Lake Charles native achieved his celebrated return to the dancehalls in the 1980s that he made his real mark. Young players imitated his every move: the rhythmic button accordion; his rough, throaty singing style; and song lyrics filled with references to donkeys, billy goats, racehorses, and just about every member of his sizable family.
Most of all, acolytes like Frank, Beau Jocque, Rosie Ledet and many, many more strove to figure out just how Boozoo managed to empty the chairs and fill the dance floor by pulling just one note from his accordion.
Boozoo never took to wearing a crown, but he was generally regarded as a zydeco king. Most of all, he was known as one tough, indefatigable, unstoppable character. But that Friday, just about 12 hours before Boozoo died, Charles, Rellis and Poncho Chavis brought the Majic Sounds band to Jazz Fest to perform their father's songs in his absence. And you could see it in their faces, and hear it in their comments on stage, that they knew the end was near.
When word circulated through the Jazz Fest the next day that Boozoo's run had ended, it was met with disbelief. At the Music Heritage Stage, when Cajun ballad singer Marce Lacouture announced Boozoo's death, you could hear the gasps in the crowd. During the set for Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, fiddler David Greely offered a song "for my buddy Boozoo." At nearly every Cajun and zydeco performance, musicians dedicated their songs and sets to the fallen king. C.J. Chenier closed off the weekend by telling his Sunday crowd that he had been in Austin for Boozoo's final show, and that Chavis clearly had been having a good time.
Backstage at these sets, the talk was all about Boozoo, how everyone had thought he would recover, that they just figured he was the kind of guy who could shout down a heart attack. How it was the end of an era.
By that Sunday night at the Rock 'n' Bowl, the Chavis brothers were back on stage, again playing their father's music, talking about keeping it going. Rockin' Dopsie Jr. was on hand to remind them how Boozoo had once counseled him to keep playing following the death of his father. After the Majic Sounds closed their set, Mid City Lanes owner John Blancher hoisted Boozoo's former throne over the heads of the dancers and laid it in front of the stage. ReBirth Brass Band played a dirge, and Charles Chavis stepped to the microphone and began a spontaneous recitation of the names of all the Cajun and zydeco musicians he could think of who had passed away, from Amede Ardoin to Clifton Chenier to Dewey Balfa to Beau Jocque to Boozoo.
Then he and the band set out for Lake Charles, for Dog Hill, for the homestead.
Much remains of the legacy of Boozoo Chavis. There's still the Majic Sounds. There's a final album, by all accounts a wonderful one, scheduled to come out sometime this summer, featuring guests David Greely and Sonny Landreth and tentatively titled I'm Still Blinkin'. Most of all, there are those still-packed zydeco clubs and scores of young bands, the lasting result of a renaissance sparked by one man doing everything he could do to fill a dance floor.
"There ain't but one Boozoo," the king himself once said. "They ain't got two, they got one. Boozoo. One. Before me there was none. After me, there ain't going to be no more like him. There's going to be some more, but not like Boozoo."
Like many of this country's best music artists, Boozoo Chavis was underinsured. Anyone interested in helping the Chavis family with medical bills and funeral expenses can send donations payable to Leona Chavis, 115 Petah Street, Lake Charles, LA 70607. Cards and well wishes can also be sent to this address.