09 October 2011

Dr John! Thare's Oil in Them Thare Beaches!

I drove to Gulfport, Mississippi shortly before 1400 hours Saturday to see Dr. John and the Lower 911. It was a free concert, and the Hot 8 Brass Band and Kermit Ruffins were playing as well. That, coupled with fine weather and an urge to get away for a few hours, seemed to outweigh the fact that the concert was on the property of the Island View Casino. I was proven wrong.

The give away is the name of the Casino: while Ship Island and Cat Island are off the coast, they are not visible from the casino (perhaps they plan to build a new island to be a playground for their guests; it could be in the cards. Look at Las Vegas).  

The bar and food offerings were lame: the only beer sold was Bud, Bud Light, and Michelob, 6 flavors of Sno-Balls ($4, with an option of 1 ounce of White or Gold Rum for an extra buck), a couple of "full" bars pouring short drinks for the sam pricing, and 4 food vendors (the most interesting item was duck and tasso gumbo). And did I mention that it is a casino? There were plenty of portable toilets set up, but the staff seemed unaware of them, and the casino was closer away. But you could not take a beverage purchased outside the casino inside, nor the other way around. The security guard indicated it had something to do with Ole Miss's Liquor Laws.

That being said, Kermit was in fine form, as always, and I was happy to have caught his last 3 songs. 
Silliness (a hula-hoop contest between women, then men, to see who would be the last hoop hula-ing) conducted by the crack local radio team of babble heads during the break before The Hot 8 (10) came on sent me scurrying to the beach.

I am glad it did.  The sand was pristine and the gulls and sandpipers were pretty as they foraged for mystery meals, but when I reached the water's lapping edge, I was surprised. There, right at the surface, black oil tar simmered in the sand as though painted by a demon's brush. I walked a mile west or so and found it, not everywhere, but time and time again. There were several children digging holes, building castles and drawing pictures in the sand. I saw no trace of oil in their lines and holes, but a few feet away, there  oil in the sand and plenty of it.

Dr John played a 55 minute set that was thoroughly enjoyable, in spite of a few missteps--his sole guitar playing was marred by a clumsy finish, and he twice played inexplicable piano chords in the middle os a song-- and it was a pleasure to see and hear Sarah Marrow play the trombone. She was a real asset to the Lower 911, even if her call-out solo in the last number was less than inspiring.

The other downside to the venue was the crowd. It seemed to be an over the hill Harley gang, judging from the pot bellies, t-shirts and leather. There was little dancing and, worse, little true enjoyment. 

Did I mention it was a casino? 

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