Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bayou Boogaloo, May 21-23 2010.

So we've slogged our way through another 'festival season' in New Orleans, caroming from Mardi Gras (really "carnival season,' stretching from 12th night through to Fat Tuesday), Faulknerfest, French Quarter Fest, Crawfish Fest, Jazzfest, and all the little mini-festivals (like the one in my neighborhood, Faubourg St. John fest, which got rained out this year) in between. The tourists have mostly gone home (too hot). So it's time for a celebration for Just Us Locals. And that would be the Bayou Boogaloo.

The Mid City Bayou Boogaloo is hosted by the Mothership Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving social change through the promotion of arts and culture. The Boogaloo is only 5 years old (it's a post-Katrina affair) and we've been in the neighborhood for four of those. In fact, the main stage (there are three) is only three blocks from our house, yet coming home for bathroom breaks (is that cool or what) you can't even hear the music in the house. As festivals go, the Boogaloo is an extremely good, non-disruptive neighbor. I don't even mind the parking headaches it brings, because, unlike at Jazzfest, virtually all the licence plates are local.

The other nice thing is...it's ABSOLUTELY FREE, so you can come and go as you please, taking in as much or as little of the music and arts and crafts as you like. This year Darlene and I opted to simply stroll over after dinner on Friday (for Bill Summers featuring Donald Harrison Junior on alto, and yes he closed with Chameleon) and BeauSoliel on Sunday.

It was...interesting, hearing that high lonesome Cajun fiddle wafting out over my neighborhood. New Orleans is not a big, cosmopolitan city, but it has an urban vibe, despite the picturesque houses. Where we live in the 6th ward the neighborhoods run from serious ghetto to the grand homes along Esplanade Avenue. But up towards our end (Bayou St. John) the presence of a body of water lends a more rustic feel. Bayou St. John is the last 'real' bayou within the city limits, but it's really a concrete channel, an open-air extension of the canal system that pumps rainwater out of the city into Lake Ponchartrain. Still, with the sun going down, and the sound of accordian and fiddle (and later, special guest bluesman and eco-wetlands warrior Tab Benoit) and lyrics in french, my little corner of the 6th ward felt real country, for a little while.

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