St. Charles Herald-Guide

It was raining cats and dogs ...

Heather R. Breaux - May 10, 2007

It’s safe to wager that nobody has ever seen cats and dogs fall from the heavens during a rainstorm, yet whenever there’s a heavy downpour, the common phrase we all use is “it’s raining cats and dogs.”

But I’ll bet my last dollar that if there was ever a day perfect enough for a little “cat and dog rain” then it was the last Friday of the 37th Annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Meterologists called for overcast skies and a 60 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms, but what festival goers got was more like a flood from above.

I started out the day with the positive notion that fate would work favor of the festival and spare the fairgrounds from rain - but when a light drizzle began to fall from the sky, I left my house with a poncho in hand.

Decked out in my Jimmy Hendrix T-shirt and a pair of denim crops and flip flops, I stepped inside the gates of the festival pulled out my my very cool Herald-Guide press pass, and fired up my digital camera.

The first performers on my list were the Gospel Inspirations of Boutte - a six-man vocal group complete with a guitarist, pianist, drummer and a brass section.

After I captured a few images of the soulful entertainers, it was time to move on and see what else the festival had to offer.

The dancers of the Kumbuka African Drum and Dance Collective caught my eye and their colorful costumes and the complexity of their choreography made them the perfect subjects for a few photos.

All that “hard” work was making me hungry, but as I made my way to the concession stands something other than my stomach started to rumble.

And what it was, was thunder! As the sky grew dark and I knew it was time to seek cover, so I grabbed my bowl of steamy crawfish bisque and headed to the nearest shelter - the blues tent.

There I thought I would be safe from the storm, but I could never have been more wrong.

I must have found the lowest-lying area on the fairgrounds because after a few minutes of gusting winds and heavy rain, I was standing in knee-deep water.

The refuge I sought in the blues tent lasted for almost two hours before the rain let up enough for me to continue my tour of the festival.

After browsing the arts and crafts booths a splinter of sunshine pierced the clouds and things began to look up for the afternoon performers.

Closing the day with performances at one of the main stages seemed like a good idea to me, after all, that’s where I spotted Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and I know he has to have great taste in music if he was hanging out at a main stage. Right, Mitch?

Nevertheless, the rock guitar sounds of Better Than Ezra and the powerful vocals of the Counting Crows were a great way to put an end to a rather interesting day.

The spirit of New Orleans and the hope and energy of its residents was alive and well at the festival and if Hurricane Katrina couldn’t wash the city away, do you really thing a few “cats and dogs” would put a damper on the fairgrounds? I don’t think so!

Until next year, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Email Lifestyles Editor Heather R. Breaux at