This year I attended my 4th Jazz Phest and for a variety of reasons I must count this one as the best, so phar. Reason numero uno has to go to New School Goverment Mule. Mule played the beautiful Orpheum Theater on Saturday night, and it was my first time seeing the band following the loss of bass player, Allen Woody. Dave Schools from Panic did a sick job of philling in and with Chuck Leavell on keys the new band truly cooks. Another silky show at this year’s phest–Mike Clark’s Prescription Refill, Friday night at Howlin’ Wolf. We had VIP passes across town at String Cheese, but left them at the window in order to see George Porter Jr., Karl Denson, and Robert Walter kick it the phuck on down with Herbie Hancock’s drummer, Mike Clark. More highlights included George Porter Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners’ private Fesshead party and Wednesday night’s Monkey Ranch, both at Contemporary Arts Center. Monkey Ranch, like Mike Clark’s, is a band that only gigs at Phest. Monkey Ranch features Dave Malone of Radiators phame on guitar and vocals, the incredibly hot and talented Theresa Andersson on vocals and percussion, Mean Willie Green of the Neville’s on drums, and other notables from the NOLA scene.