Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Incomparable Neti Vaan

April 15, 2007, 12:30 pm

400 Royal St.
New Orleans, La.
French Quarter Festival

Family and Friends,

After today, Neti Vaan could tell you she'd rather do calm.

Her band, VAVAVOOM sound checked today with winds whipping through the French Quarter. Vaan’s hair blew in her eyes. Background banners flapped and apathetic French Quarter Festival visitors probably felt sorry for the bunch.

From her first fiddle strum, the on-lookers collective apathy turned to awestruck. By the end, babies danced, mothers laughed and 100 attendees swelled to over 1,000.

Vaan, 49, has a gift. And it isn't the engineering prowess she has by trade. It's the fiddler in her nature. After graduating college, Vaan inspected buildings for code violations. She knew from the beginning it wouldn’t last.

Today, she plays to work. Or works to play, whichever you prefer. Her fiddle lights up Frenchman Street's Spotted Cat on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Mimi's in the Marigny has her and the VAVAVOOM team on Friday nights. Private parties are also a source of income.

I'm not a music critic, couldn’t even call myself a buff. But when I listen to VAVAVOOM, my ears are content.

One critic referred to Vaan fiddling as "haunting, soulful." The haunting tag doesn’t fit. There have been no nightmares in my cerebral view after a night with VAVAVOOM.

But a different critic said, "Bart Ramsey's powerful lyrics and melodies, and Neti Vaan's passionate fiddle playing combine on this enticing and typically wide-ranging gumbo that effortlessly takes in its stride texmex, mardigras, hotclub, gypsy bluegrass, country and barroom swing."


By the way, Bart Ramsey is VAVAVOOM's piano playing vocalist. And Vaan's ex-husband. It's great to know that even divorce can't stop a good thing.

Vaan and VAVAVOOM gained hundreds of new fans today.

Let's hope they come back to NOLA soon, but buy a CD before they go.



To hear Vaan and VAVAVOOM, go to Frenchman Street's the Spotted Cat on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Mimi's in the Marigny on Fridays. Shows typically start at 10 pm.

No Cover at either Venue.