“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” My namesake Winston Churchill wasn’t around for Covid-19 but his message to the people during World War II certainly applied. March 11, 2020 was 2 weeks before Hogs. We had an incredible line-up, record ticket sales with 40,000 attendees expected, charitable donations were already at new highs and the BBQ teams were frothing at the mouth for the weekend to arrive. In a matter of seconds, it was over. We had a call around noon that day with the Office of Homeland Security. There would be no Hogs. Covid had meandered from the Northwest to our first confirmed case in New Orleans. We were informed Hogs was a no-go and the city would be entering a lockdown in 48 hours. “2 weeks to stop the spread.” I was emotionally and mentally crippled by the news. You were in Disney World and that compounded my worries as we had no idea where the virus was lurking and what it was capable of. Fortunately, you and mom were flying home that day. I picked you up at 3pm and raced home to get on a conference call at 4pm with thousands of the team members involved with Hogs to let them know the Fest was canceled. Fighting back tears I didn’t even know I possessed, I delivered the news. It was one of the most deflating, somber moments of my life. It felt personally punitive that our festival would be the only major fest affected by this 2 week life pause. Boy was that wrong! We would enter our “2 week lockdown” 48 hours later on Friday. While the cancellation was financially crippling personally and for the organization, I vowed to stay happy and be positive for these 2 weeks. This album was in constant rotation those 2 weeks. This is the first entry in my Covid Collection.
In 2020, I had been listening to alot of Northern Soul. Jorge Ben’s “Taj Mahal” became a steady favorite in my Stomper playlists. “Taj Mahal” was famously ripped off by Rod Stewart in his “ Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.” Lawsuits, the whole deserved works. “Taj Mahal” led me to explore the beautiful sounds of Brazil and to Novos Baianos (translated New Bahaians). The band hailed from Bahia, Brazil and this album Acabou Chorare (Stop Crying) was at some point named Rolling Stone Magazine’s #1 Top Brazilian Albums Ever. Stop Crying…apropos for the moment. Acabou Chorare is a beautiful mix of samba, psych, bossa nova, rock and what the Brazillians refer to as MPB (Brazilian Pop Music). I don’t speak a lick of Portuguese, and it’s completely unnecessary to enjoy this magnificent, jovial album. The first 3 tracks set the tone of convivial mirth with beautifully textured guitars and ukes interlaced with samba rhythms. I remember dancing with you on the back patio, glass of champagne in hand (mine), to these songs. I kept replaying “Preta Pretinha” and I’m pretty sure you thought I was crazy. Thankfully, I am. The album then settles into some tracks with sweet, cheery melodies before closing with some more upbeat harmony, choral laden tracks and a killer instrumental jam. This is beautiful music that deserves to be in every music lover’s collection. Your mom recently stated “Preta Pretinha” is the song that makes her most think of Covid lockdown.
“Hell is other people” says Jean Paul Sartre. Sometimes. But after dealing with Covid for multiple years, we have begged for community. Hogs would be the only festival to occur in New Orleans Metro in 2021. It was one of the most amazing, exuberant experiences of my life. That happiness was fleeting as another Covid wave swept through and pretty much shut everything back down. But we rocked it full blast in April 2022.
Don’t discount the power and your ability to train your mindset. Slowly, the two week lockdown stretched into almost two years. Sadly, my demeanor would begin to devolve and with it came fatigue and my own version of Nausea. As I write this, October 12, 2022, we’ve still not fully overcome Covid, but I’m hungry again and ready to move forward. Mental health challenges are paramount around the world. But we must persevere. We must keep going.
Favorite Tracks: “Preta Pretinha” “Brasil Pandeiro” “Tinindo Trincando” “Um Bilhete Pra Didi”
Pressing: Som Livre – 409.6065 – Limited Edition. Numbered Red Re-Issue. 782/1000. 2018