Our options dwindling and stomachs growling, we went to Fiorella's. I assumed I could not go wrong with Fried Crawfish tails with Cajun Dipping Sauce (mmmm…sauce), and I was right. We both ordered hulking plates of the world’s most AWESOME fried chicken. I’m certainly man who loves his dark meat, but this was the juiciest white meat imaginable, courtesy of a lengthy marination process. The skin was so crispy-- it was as if it were covered in cracklins. At one point, I did notice that a piece of chicken seemed a bit undercooked, but I passed on that piece and went to town on the countless other parts on my plate. I also had delicious sides in the form of smoky red beans and rice and spinach with a little vinegar bitterness. It was then that I wondered how body would react to eating a real vegetable after a few days of nothing but cows, pigs, and chickens.
We caught a cab to Tipitina’s for the tremendously important Instruments-a-Comin’ benefit, a concert that raised funds for the Tipitina’s Foundation’s Annual push to provide free instruments to young people in public schools. Unlike the scene Curtis had described in years past, this event was way sold out with nary an extra to be found. I had snagged a ticket beforehand, and we had to use some clever maneuvering to find a way in for Curtis. With a huge lineup of bands doing 45-60 minute sets, we arrived just in time to watch the Dirty Dozen Brass Band nail a solid finish.
Donald Harrison and the Tips Interns were next on the docket. Their verision of “Hey Pocky Way” was not bad at all, and I especially enjoyed their spin on “The Girl from Ipanema,” which they turned into “The Girl from New Orleans.” “Big Chief” was a rousing finale, thanks to a very talented young man on the vocals. In all, it was really cool to see this ensemble play because these young, budding musicians really were what the night was all about.
Jon Cleary was up next. Admittedly, I’m not a fan, and he started out way funky, then soon devolved into smooth and boring. I hate it when he gets into “adult contemporary” mode. Bonnie Raitt then came out, and while expectations were high, she didn't do a whole lot. The set had started strong, but it really fizzled.
New Orleans Social Club simply smoked from the get-go. Theirs was a blazing set, especially the fiery Ivan Neville-led “Fortunate Son.” Unfortunately, they stopped way too early, nearly 20 or 30 minutes before their slot was scheduled to end.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue then took the stage. This was my first time seeing them together. Almost immediately, I was impressed by their killer cover of “Back in Black.” These extremely talented young cats made for one very slick band, and they were led by a guy with infectious charisma. Their set ended with flair on a big instrument switch. I could definitely see how this could be an awesome late night act.
Rebirth Brass Band also had a great set, playing a lot of Mardi Gras Indian tunes with Monk Boudreaux, and ending on a really high note.
I was tempted to stick around for Walter “Wolfman” Washington and the Roadmasters, but I was beat. The morning’s hot tub marination had me feeling a little pickled, so we packed it in and called it another early night at 3AM.
However, my night was not quite over, as I soon awakened with a sharp pain in my stomach and a cold sweat on my brow. I couldn’t stop thinking about that undercooked piece of chicken. Was the white meat so juicy because it was still rare? The pain kept getting worse, and I started to feel dizzy. I looked at the clock and calculated that it had been just about six hours since I had eaten that chicken. My body has an internal clock like a Swiss watch, and I knew exactly what was happening: I had food poisoning.
I’ll spare you the details, but the next hour alongside the porcelain god was quite agonizing. It was not the best way to end my day, although on the bright side, I knew I wouldn’t be gaining any weight that day because every single thing I had ingested was exiting my body in multiple ways with haste.
I will say it now-- while it’s nice to avoid the weight gain, the practice of bulimia is very overrated.