We could not have asked for a more perfect weekend in the Big Easy this October. The weather was gorgeous (October always is in New Orleans), the setting was surreal (City Park), and the music was, well, like voodoo! We see why this is an annual ritual in the Crescent City – 3 days packed chock-full of a diverse array of live music, intimate tents, and all the soul-satisfying Nawlins food and art you can take.
> The weekend in brief? We could not have done without the sets from Erykah, Wyclef Jean, King Britt w/The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Fishbone, Thievery Corporation, Lupe Fiasco, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Fleur de Tease, The Soul Rebels, The Hot 8 Brass Band, and of course, our daily night-cap with DJ Soul Sister! (Not to mention the thick political motif swimming in the air.)
NOLA rep and Senior Editor, Jocelyne Ninneman, blogs about the full experience… enjoy.*
10.24.08 | DAY 1
After a misty morning, fearing a muddy scene a-la-Lollapalooza memories, we were thrilled with the breaking of the sun around 2pm as my photographer, Emily, and I arrived at check-in on Friday under some sprawling poplar trees at the spectacular New Orleans City Park. Just a bit of distant chill in the air to let us know we’s need jackets for later and friendly smiles from the Voodoo Festival staff.
Our first glimpse was of the circus-style New Orleans Bingo! Show parlor tent, where we assume some scandalous revelry was taking place inside, but alas off we went to our first set on the PlayStation/Billboard Stage to check out those rising punk kids, and my hometown homies (shameless Detroit plug), THE DIRTBOMBS[The Dirtbombs], where they were opening that stage for the weekend. It was dope to see this band, who I watched play seedy bars and local festivals in years of late, playing on this enormous mammoth of a stage, as well as be the first act I catch at Voodoo. And you know what? Theirs was the best rock set of the entire weekend, and not just because I am partial to my hometown heroes. Unless, of course you want to classify FishBone as rock. Seriously.
Next up on the PlayStation/Billboard Stage was that young British ivory soul chica, JOSS STONE[Joss Stone]. Clad in the most bohemian of summer dresses and of course naked feet, Joss seemed to have bought out the sun for the weekend single-handedly. Her innocence reflected in the gleaming all-white of her amazing band. (We just loved her male back-up singer – what a playa!) Miss Stone wasn’t all first and happy bohemian innocence today though… apparently she had a few messages to get across; one of them for the girls – gently reminding the ladies to be ladies if you expect to be treated like one; and the second for everyone – that we have to reamain focused and choose our battles wisely in this time of war and economic crisis. [Not a straight-forward Obama plug, but an anti-war one, not to mention an economic one - and she's not even American! ---O-plug #1]
Next, it was across the racetrack to claim our front row spots for the king of voodoo himself, Mr. WYCLEF JEAN[Wyclef Jean]. With full band and DJ in effect, Wyclef re-sold us all over again. I mean, this dude is versatile. From rapping to singing to rippin up the guitar, not to mention on the quick wit with the New Orleans, voodoo, and political satire. Heck, even his DJ got jokes – while warming up the decks for Wyclef, he decided to amuse us with his play on Lil Wayne’s “Under Water” monologue (also heard on Robin Thicke’s new album) as he DJ’s while taking off his shirt, putting on scuba goggles, slowly disappearing below the table, and reappearing with a mouthful of water, shortly projected all the way out in front of his DJ deck for the climax… all the while never removing his hands from the platters! (now that’s talent)
Now that the stage had our attention, Wyclef decided it was time to make his entrance, language-switching and referencing his Haitian heritage, citing his grandfather who “was a voodoo priest” and noting that “this is Voodoo Fest, so let’s put a spell on them…” [After his Obama plug ---O-plug #2] Clef next launched into his “If I was President,” where he would be “elected on Thursday, assassinated on Friday, buried on Saturday, resurrected on Sunday, and back to work on Monday” ! We’d vote for you Wyclef, after giving a solid performance, including Hip-Hop-inspired cuts, traditional mixture, and plenty of guitar skills, how could we not?
After our true voodoo warm-up with our fine Haitian Jean, we bounced back over to the Playstation/Billboard Stage for one of our most anticipated sets of the weekend – the one and only, Ms. ERYKAH BADU [Erykah Badu] – voodoo queen indeed. Now we already know she’s caught many a tough guy under her spell, and we just wanted to experience for ourselves “that voodoo that you do so well.” We heard she wasn’t feeling her most tip-top (it appears as if the rumours be true – a wee Jayerykah seems to be on his/her way soon), so she stayed outta the spotlight quite a bit, requesting a darker stage setting as she hid her hazel soul-traps under a massive shelf of combed-down afro-bangs tonight.
Always with the super-fly background singers, the Badu band was on point sans their drummer, who apparently got lost in the travels and flights overnight, but much to our (pleasant) surprise was replaced for the evening with a local drummer we know from ’round who effin killed it given the uber-short notice! A few cues from the keyboardist, and homeboy was rollin. Of course she opens with “Hip Hop is Bigger Than…” - just in case there are some newbies in the audience tonight ;) Next she introduces us to “Me,” then back to some “Mama’s Gun” classics and onto a bit of a jam with what we can only assume are previews of material from the 2nd part of the “New Amerykah,” due out very soon.
The massive crowd really got live for “Soldier” though, (and not just because of the steady beat by Detroit’s Karriem Riggins, yo) as she truly spoke live and direct right to the people when she hit her line in this track… “baptized when the levees broke.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard her sing a phrase so distinctly and directly to the people in front of her. A great moment indeed. Then, after pouring her libations and sipping from her omnipresent hot tea canter, she introduces the stellar band before launching into the last song and dropping her Obama plug [O-plug #3] like a bomb as fists pop up in the ay-er. We must say, it felt very New Orleans tonight… the poplar trees, the still air, Wyclef’s Haitian vibe, Erykah’s voodoo influence…
[[[ Unfortunately, Erykah was feeling too under the weather, so one-on-one interviews got canceled, and only a brief general session took place in the Fuse TV tent after the set. Next time... ]]]
The next stop was TV ON THE RADIO [TV on the Radio], one of the most talked-about bands of the year, and one of the most anticipated acts at Voodoo Fest this year. The boys definitely delivered one of their distinctly experimental and eternally different sets… consistent in that you never know what you’re gonna get. TV gets points for pushing the envelope for sure. Sadly we couldn’t stay for the whole set as we had to jet over to the WWOZ/SoCo Stage for what was even more anticipated for us – KING BRITT’s [King Britt] “Tribute to Sister Gertrude Morgan” featuring the full live band and photo/video footage. Philly native, Britt, came across the late NOLA folk legend, Sister Gertrude Morgan’s work ironically not long before Hurricane Katrina and the flood of 2005 destroyed almost all of Morgan’s neighborhood, and therefore much of her famed artwork.
[[[ Britt released his “King Britt presents: Sister Gertrude Morgan” on Philly’s RopeADope Records [RopeADope] the same year Katrina wreaked havoc on the history of the 9th Ward in New Orleans, serving as an almost eerie preservation and rebirth of one of the city’s most noted, yet often unknown, people. Though she died in 1980, Sister Gertrude was a self-proclaimed “Bride of Jesus” and was cornerstone of the 9th Ward for decades, serving as a minister and community artist. She was both a painter and a musician, and possibly her most famous song is “Lets Make A Record,” which RopeAdope also re-released as part of a partnership with NOLA’s Preservation Hall – the historical Jazz institution that owns the original recordings of Morgan’s vocals – and continuation of Britt’s ongoing collaboration with Ben Jaffe and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.]]]
Having heard Britt’s re-work of Morgan’s music, and learning about who she was, this would be the first time Britt and Jaffe would present the full project live, so we just had to be there for this moment in history. As Britt presented his electronic pieces, old photos and original video collages created specifically for this presentation moved across two giant screens, transporting us back to another era… a black and white world of Jazz greats in tiny wooden rooms, Mardi gras Indians, and parades down streets brimming with smiling faces… until the colorful members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band [Preservation Hall Jazz Band] emerged one by one in there places on stage in front of the screens as if they were born straight out of the video, some of them sons of some of the late greats on the screens above, and the music literally came alive as each member joined in to play their part.
By the end, the modest crowd had gathered and we found ourselves dancing in the grass, where the time machine dropped us back off, we came to and second-line stepped out way over to our finale for the day – DJ Soul Sister’s Social Aid & Pleasure Club [DJ Soul Sister] inside the Preservation Hall Tent, where we proceeded to get loose to Soul Sister’s infectious blend of original Soul and Funk goodness til they shut it down. Was this a highlight? Well, don’t know when the last time was that we got down in a cypher to Funk and Soul… so you be the judge! Layers were comin off left and right… and the Booty Patrol Go-Go Dancers [NOLA Booty Patrol] were on fire!
All danced out, we were most definitely feelin’ good as we pulled out of the haunting yet peaceful City Park for one more stop before we turned in… the TV on the Radio afterparty where one of their members was DJing and celebrating a birthday @ Cafe Lazizza on our favorite Big Easy strip – Frenchmen Street. Some good ole’ 80s and mash-up fun was had by all, not ot mention shisha hookahs and late-night eats, and of course… the color and character(s) that are being on Frenchmen Street.
10.25.08 | DAY 2
Saturday was an absolutely, positively beautiful day and the sun welcomed us as we arrived back at City Park to start our afternoon with some more true Nawlins flavor in the Bingo! Parlour Tent for soon-to-be-known musician, Clint Maedgen‘s [Clint Maedgen] feature set, where we were soon in the time machine again, entering the world of circus-theatre-bohemian-burlesque… you know, the classic New Orleans breed of Moulin Rouge meets Sweeney Todd. Yet, not to take away from Clint’s performance, I think everyone inside the packed-out tent would agree when we say that it was the Fleur de Tease [Fleur de Tease] burlesque show that got all the attention Saturday afternoon on that side of the park. Though New Orleanians know where to get a dose of Miss Trixie and her scantily-clad lovely ladies on the regular, for the newbies, this was quite a treat! Sure is nice to see adult entertainment being done the good ole’ fashioned way – with class and panache
We made an executive decision to fore-go Lil Wayne, though blasphemy in Nawlins to do so, in light of the fact that we had to catch two very important acts – Thievery Corporation and FishBone. Yes, that’s right, the afro-punk originals were live and direct on the NooMoon Stage – perhaps the smallest stage that side of center park – and so before we posseed-up with NOLA man of the people and local festival organizer extraordinaire, Karl Washington, and King Britt and Rucyl, guest artists, to make the pleasant hike over to NooMoon for what was one of the Top 3 sets of the weekend, hands-down… we scooted over to Thievery Corporation’s Artist Tent to chat for a few with Rob and Eric about their beginnings, their new album, and of course what we could expect from this evening’s sundown performance.
[[[ Exclusive Interview with Thievery Corporation ]]]
Turns out, hailing from our nation’s capital city of Washington DC, TC’s Rob Garza and Eric Hilton got together over  years ago (Wow! Has it been that long already? No way!) and have been steadily raising the bar and contributing to the genre-skating, worldbeat music movement over the better part of the last decade. Chopping it up with them was not quite as easy as expected, for these guys are modest as all get out – quiet, unassuming and without too many airs. So getting them to talk about themselves at length was, at times, like coaxing a cat. What struck as an amazing point in their career was discovering that, even after over 10 years in this rough music biz game, Thievery Corporation [Thievery Corporation] STILL has yet to sign under a major label. Yep, that’s right, now touring in support of their 5th album, “Radio Retaliation,” released just 1 month ago, Rob and Eric have helmed a full project every 2 years completely independently…and YOU know who they are! Well, there it is… it CAN be done without the majors!
Aside from having their own close-knit team to run their business, TC has managed to collaborate with some of the most diverse and notable musicians on the planet for each and every album, including Perry Farrell, The Flaming Lips, David Byrne, Anoushka Shankar, Astrud Gilberto, Bebel Gilberto, Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, Femi Kuti, Seu Jorge, Jana Andevska, and fellow DC legend, Chuck Brown. In fact, it has been their ability to merge limitless, seemingly disparate sounds into the Thievery Corporation brand of forward, eclectic dance music that easily translates into lounges and soundtracks that has been their trademark.
So what is the focus of the new project? The DC duo say: “Radio Retaliation is definitely a more overt political statement,” says Garza of Thievery Corporation. “There’s no excuse for not speaking out at this point, with the suspension of habeas corpus, outsourced torture, illegal wars of aggression, fuel, food, and economic crises. It’s hard to close your eyes and sleep while the world is burning around you. If you are an artist, this is the most essential time to speak up.”
Perhaps this is why they are fairly excited about today’s performance, as this is one of those opportunities – at a large festival with a decent budget – where they can afford to present the entire band on stage. “Nearlyevery collaborator on “Radio Retaliation” will be on that stage today,” Rob & Eric say. “It is not all the time that we get the chance to really present the whole band, all the elements, live. We ‘re going to have belly-dancers and everything.”
Now we can see glimmers of excitement and anticipation in their demeanors. It appears, like the rest of us Fusicologists, that the full, live and direct experience is the pinnacle of not only their careers, but their souls. Wow, now I’m all excited! Especially since we haven’t heard the new album yet, this will be one of those treasured situations where you get to experience new music live, in person, before you have it on recording – the way it should be. And with that, management beckons that it’s time to head over to the stage to prep the set. That is our cue to grab a cocktail and head over to catch FishBone.
[[[ End Interview ]]]
FishBone‘s [FishBone] set on the tiny NooMoon Stage was ridiculous. Period. I think they were even better than I remember them before. Seriously, less heavy metal, and more ska. I think I even got some afrobeat vibes from them! The crowd was hype…obviously enough old-school fans in attendance, crowd-surfing soon commenced. And though the guys are clearly getting older, they’re no less swank – just as quirky, but even maybe more so, in a somehow more sophisticated way. Or is that just me trying to justify my quirky taste now that I’m supposed to know the difference between unique talent and just plain weirdness?
In any case, their set was sick; funky horns, laid-back bass, and, though it took a minute, eventually the hype MC/lead front man we expected to dive into the audience not sans corded mic. Each member most definitely still has their own character, only a few uber-thick dreads now, but enough eclecticism to maintain their rank as one of my top bands of all time. In fact, I think I like them even more now. Hey – I haven’t been near the front row of a crowd-surfing pit and not been annoyed in years! FishBone was absolutely the low-profile, hardly publicized act of the weekend that just killed it. I totally went home to pull out my old FishBone albums.
Kinda salty we couldn’t stay for their whole set, but super amped for the anticipated full-band set of Thievery Corporation [Thievery Corporation], we bounced back over to the PlayStation/Billboard Stage, lured by the exotic vocals of new TC feature chanteuse, Jana Andevska, already into their first song. Belly-dancers and ethereal fairy-goddesses in white and gold lured us in as close as we could get, having to craftily dance through an already packed race track crowd to get to our press box side-stage.
There we met the small brigade of press, photographers, guest artists, and local who’s who just feet from center stage where there was no talking and soon we found ourselves in a swarm of feet, derrieres, and shoulders dancing quietly as what seemed to be one worshiping unit. Dancers were swirling in blazes of white and gold, the occasional pink and orange, and the lovely Jana made her exits just as graceful as her entrances – somehow a Bjork meets M.I.A. meets Bebel Gilberto new character. The simple bronze crown atop her crown donning a new queen.
Riddim MCs Sleepy Wonder and Notch kept the reggae in the area with their rude boy flavor and appropriate attire to accompany these Jamaican ‘tings, while a 6+ piece band surrounded Thievery Corporation captains, Rob and Eric, as they stood on their small platform with their keyboards, drum machines, and headphones.
After that trip around the world, we most definitely did not want it to be over, but nonetheless were shooed off stage so crew could make the swift set-change. As we descended the stairs into the “backstage” poplar courtyard that is City Park, the feeling still lingered in the air as all the band members, dancers, artists, press, and who’s who were gathering under a warm glow and a soft breeze under the canopy crawling Crescent City foliage, still a bit sweaty, but smiling wide and after that beverage from the bar. Is this why they call it the “Voodoo Music Experience” ?
Now that we were hungry, thanks to our little work out, we decided it was time to indulge in whatever Cajun ans Creole fancies we could find along the “Voodoo Village” and “Loa Tent.” (Just in case, for those unclear, a “loa” is a god or goddess, so yes – the idea was to make us feel like gods and goddesses, and we have to admit, it was something like that.) A few crawfish breads, fried green tomato napoleons, and po-boys later, we were rested and ready for the last live set of the night and, of course, our daily night-cap with DJ Soul Sister.
The Mars Volta [the Mars Volta], another much talked-about feature of this year’s festival, also delivered an expected, consistent set of unpredictable experimentation ans abstract grooves on the main Voodoo Stage, much like TV on The Radio did. No one can say they are trying to sound like someone else, that’s for darn sure. The Volta dark purple set transitioned us into another mood and next we were off to toss back a few cocktails before getting under that jumpin dome known as the Preservation Hall Tent where DJ Soul Sister [DJ Soul Sister] was throwing down her 2nd night of her Voodoo Social Aid & Pleasure Club – which we knew we would need an entirely new batch of energy for, and possibly a fresh pair of dancin shoes.
Indeed, within 10 minutes of arrival, layers were coming off, bags were being stashed in safe places, water started circulating, and after a brief photo shoot with Soul Sis’s smokin Booty Patrol Dancers[NOLA Booty Patrol], we found ourselves back in the throes of Round II of our little Voodoo Fest dance party. Folks were trying to hop the stage to bump n grind with the sultry BP girls, and eventually the ladies were given the greenlight by Soul Sister, but the dudes unfortunately had to remain in their places on the ground and return to enjoying the view. Aw, darn. Uh, anyone wanna go see Nine Inch Nails on the main stage? Um, nope.
Pretty pooped after getting all the social aid and pleasure we could get for the night, we made it an early night in the Quarter and on Frenchmen St., in hopes of catching some Zzz’s before the final day was upon us.
10.26.08 | DAY 3
Sunday it wasn’t quite so easy to rise and shine, though the weather was one again superb, and we finally made it to City Park just barely around 2-ish. In fact, it was looking like this was going to be the warmest day of the three. The bad news: we got word that N.E.R.D. [N*E*R*D] had canceled, and instead of being bummed, we were down-right ticked off… how dare they?! Whatever.
So there it was, we got ourselves some time bought, because now Lupe Fiasco was going to take N.E.R.D.’s slot and that left us some time to casually make our way over to OZOMATLI [OZOMATLI] on the WWOZ/SoCo Stage. You know, these guys rarely fail to show us a good time. Truly. Bringing the same eclectic worldbeat flair that Thievery Corporation brought the day before, but in a bit more organic sense – less refined, more college festival, but not any less authentic and fantastic. The Latin-Hip-Hop-Hippie-Reggae vibes got us grooving in bare feet before long. Chali 2na killed it, and every single band member gave us some. OZOMATLI just can’t lose.
Peeling off our jackets, and whipping out shades and caps, we trekked back across the “Voodoo Village” (stopping for some tasty eats of course) toward the PlayStation/Billboard Stage for Lupe’s set, where we found Mr. Lupe Fiasco [Lupe Fiasco] already into his first song. He and his hype man all suave in minimal black and designer denim, kicks, and shades. To our (pleasant) surprise, Fiasco had a nearly full band too, not just his DJ. But the “Hip Hop Nerd” certainly wasn’t so geeky today… looking all swank and stuff, his hype man jsut a tad street. After a few tracks, his sweat beads starting to take over, Lupe had to ask the somewhat still crowd to get into it… hw offered up his love, serenaded a single lady in the audience, and even got down on his knees. Then he launched into “Superstar” and the crowd goes wild. Guess that one works. LOL.
Sidenote: We are convinced that Lupe’s designer kicks are a new kind that only the celebs are getting right now – the kind that have little super-springs built into the soles – because that young man literally sprung his way all over every inch of that gigantic stage for the entire duration of that freaking song! Maybe he’s not human after all?
Finally, he brings it down a notch after presenting his hit to take down the volume and announce that he “would like to introduce to you a very special guest that we have here with us today…” (thousands of people with ears perked – is it Pharrell? Who is it?)… “Ladies and Gentlemen… the mutha-f*in SUN! Give it up for that giant ball of fire in the sky over there that burning my azz up right now!” >>> Lupe Fiasco gets the Comedian Award for Voodoo Fest ’08
We all died, and appreciated Fiasco’s down-to-earth persona, as it WAS getting crazy hot, and that huge black stage was facing due-East. He and hype man continued to sweat out their charcoal clothes and finished out the set though, no matter how drenched and out of breath they were. Soon Lupe ended up on the stage floor, on his back, feet in the air, mic in hand, ripping it while the audience laughed at dancing air-feet.
Not being able to complain that his guy does not deliver an energetic show, we accepted his closing set, the politcal one, not without his Obama plug [O-Plug #5] and reminder to all that “the most important vote is the one for yourself!” A feeling I believe some call “unity” rippled through that field.
All reminded of our democratic duties yet again for the 5th time this weekend, we mosied on over across the race track to the Voodoo Stage to catch the first 3 songs from Panic at the Disco [Panic At The Disco]. I must admit, I do appreciate their little theme. They’re whole get-up is funky and quirky, yet totally marketable. At least their take on The Beatles is a bit more original than say, Oasis. (lol) OK, maybe that was bit unfair. These guys really do have a lil sumthin-sumthin. Maybe I’m just partial to ripping on bands that make it the center of their universe to dog disco. I mean, c’mon man, we find appreciation in your music, and you can’t do the same for everyone else? Either way, they were worth checking out, I’m just not all woo-woo about them.
3 tunes from Panic and it was a wrap for us, we had a more important place to be; back to the WWOZ/SoCo Stage for our girl, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings! [Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings] Would we ever miss them? Naw. As usual, the Brooklyn Kings warmed up the stage with an almost instrumental set – getting us in the groove, several bare feet in the grass – to build the anticipation factor for Ms. Jones, their 1st Lady of Soul. (We’re actually kinda glad, in a weird way, that Amy can’t rehab long enough to tour with these guys… because what it’s done is allowed Sharon to finally get the spotlight long due to her.)
Sharon stormed the stage in bright orange and gold, with her usual bundle of energy. She took us all ’round the world, from Funk to Soul to Afrobeat, displaying her usual tale of her family heritage through each funky movement of a different body part. Right on schedule her heels came off, and she closed out the set by inviting a group of eager dancing girls to the stage to share the spotlight with her and shake their groove thangs front-and-center with her for her second-to-last song. Each new-found young diva took her turn in the Jones-style Soul Train line, until Ms. Sharon had to remind them it was time to resume their places down below. Thoroughly entertaining and heart-warming were the the hip older women in the audience who were so into this and kept asking “Who is this? We love them! What’s her name?”
Parking ourselves for a few at the complimentary SoCo tent nearby, we caught a breather, then kept right on second-lining in the grass straight into Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue [Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue] also on the WWOZ/SoCo Stage. Already one of my favorites, Troy and crew are still not getting old. We could see them again and again. These guys create a mad-funky blend of that traditional New Orleans brass band power and contemporary hip hop / r&b that translates into the pop arena quite smoothly. Yet never cheesey, they manage to know which covers to tackle and how often, always sticking to their roots and original tunes to balance out the combo. At times, we felt like we were at a fun DJ party at someone’s house. Mark my words… Trombone Shorty about to be a star.
Once again, we decided to forfeit the main headlining act, R.E.M., knowing that we only had one more edition of DJ Soul Sister’s Voodoo Social Aid & Pleasure Club left… so that is where we parked it for the remainder of the night, and partied til we stank a little. Yet again, people tryin to get on stage with the luscious Booty Patrol, and losing their brains to rare grooves, classic hip hop, and even some ‘Nawlins bounce. We would venture to bet that more than half these peeps in this tent have never experienced a party like this, and at least a few hundred more ears and souls have been opened right here this weekend.
A few crazy photos with DJ Brice Nice, DJ Kazu, the Preservation Hall crew, and of course Miss B and her Booty Patrol and the Voodoo Fest ’08 was a WRAP. Well, so we thought… that was, until we chose to stop by Woody’s Bar for a night-cap only to find the Free Agents Brass Band starting a second-line through VIP! I guess we were remiss for thinking that we weren’t going out without a bang – NOLA-style. So we got swooped up into the crowded tiki room and got down to some New Orleans tradition before we made our tired hike off the premises. It was Halloween and Mardi Gras and Carnivale and Burning Man all at once.
*For the full remote experience, check out our Fusicology Voodoo Festival 2008 Photo Wrap-Up here.
> Photo Credits: Emily Egan for Egan Photography
— Jocelyne Ninneman for Fusicology
+ TOTAL NUMBER OF OBAMA PLUGS: 5 [6 unofficially, 7 with bandana propaganda]