Well, I only got to go to JazzFest the second weekend this year, so I had a lot of living/carousing/catching up/laughing/flirting/hugging/boogie-ing to cram into those hours…. I stuffed as much music as was possible into my ears during that time period, so without further ado, here are my power rankings of the proceedings, some of which have been shared in other parts of the Zone and are simply collected here. Would love to hear if anyone else was in New Orleans and what their highlights were....
1. Gangbe Brass Band from Benin in West Africa…. My new favorite band. Their music is somehow intricate yet simple, funky and centered while allowing room for all sorts of little tangents to be explored, sometimes all at the same time. The band speaks no English, at all (only French), but are all very nice and were happy to shake hands and express nods to all in the crowd who wanted to after their set. The venue for this show was great, too--Rosys in Uptown New Orleans on Valence. And the crowd was fantastic--laid back music lovers, dancers and LISTENERS. The level of obnoxiousness was zero, the good vibes were high, the music was good, the ladies pretty, the hours melting away deep into the night.
2. Allen Toussaint…. One of the greatest living American songwriters and producers, in my opinion. His band was the best of the best, the sound is high quality blues/funk/R&B. Toussaint plays piano and sings, and never sweats. He did a new song at the end of his set urging all displaced New Orleanians to “come back home” and made a special reference to Cyril Neville. Touissaint is class personified.
3. The Radiators… I’ve seen better shows from them, but never seen them play better at the Festival. They were turbo-charged, the guitars were loud and raw and constantly dueling with each other, Zeke the keyboardist was possessed and mumbling lyrics, they encored with “Feelin Alright” and peaked it perfectly.
4. Toubab Krewe…. Was suspicious but ended up really digging it… young dudes from North Carolina who love African music, study it, speak French, and play it quite well. They have all sorts of unorthodox instruments they use within the context of jammy music.
5.Steely Dan—followed Allen Toussaint at the Fest, which was entirely appropriate since both bands are appropriately known for exceptional sound and musicianship. Sounded pristine. Played all the hits. Walter Becker’s guitar tone sizzled.
6.Allman Bros—Derek and Warren shredfest. Chuck Leavell sat in and did his classic “Jessica” piano solo. Derek’s wife came out and sang “The Weight” with ‘em. Oh, yeah, it was rather crowded at the Fest this day. During the Allmans set I really had to relieve myself but I’ll be damned if I was gonna stand in the outrageous lines, so I strode purposefully over to the Kids Tent, and bluffed my way backstage to use the facilities there…. Then I got a glass of gratis red Kool Aid gave a nod of the hat to the “cool young moms” that were hanging out back there and returned to the mayhem.
7.Ween—only my second time to see them so I don’t really know song titles but it was quality. They played an evening show at a warehouse. Two of my friends were manning one of the bars at the venue and would absolutely not allow me to pay for a drink, so drinking free the whole show was a good thing.
8. Papa Grows Funk—stanky ass primo New Orleans funk. New Orleans funk 101 done to perfection.
9. Snooks Eaglin—old crazy blind New Orleans blues man known as “the human jukebox.” George Porter played with him. Only saw briefly.
10. Greyboy All Stars—was at this show from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. Argued with the doorman to get in for 1/3rd of the actual ticket price. Used to love them years ago but am kinda over it now. Sounded great but my ears have moved on to other things. Jazz-funk West coast laid back ala Grant Green late 50s early 60s Blue Note stuff.
11. New Edition—no Bobby Brown. I got to see two songs, “Mr. Telephone Man” and “Cool It Now.” The whole crowd was singing along and acting silly.
12. Rotary Downs—Pavement esque NOLA band. Their first time to play the Fest. I was proud of ‘em.
13. Eric Lindell—soulful blues rocker that got signed out of NOLA to Alligator Records last year and has been barnstorming the country ever since. Pals with everybody in the band….
14. Stephen Marley—is this the Marley that played LB at Miami and married Lauryn Hill? This was an issue of much debate that was never resolved to my satisfaction. Anyway, thank goodness his dad wrote some good songs, or else Stephen wouldn’t have any material.
15. 007—rock steady reggae. Good stuff.
16. The Underdawgs—new band fronted by former Rebirth trumpet player Shamar Allen. Shamar was sloppily eating French fries on stage before they finally went on way too late at Le Bon Temps Fri nite so I didn’t catch much of their set.
I'll write a review after I get a chance to recover a bit. Got some killer pictures.
How was the weather? I went for the first week-end and we had perfect weather. Low humidity. Van Morrison and Sonny landreth shone in particular!
Not sure I can put it all into words - got in Friday afternoon and blew off the fairgrounds that day as there was a monsoon of sorts (I have sat through shows there in the rain, but this was a bit much, especially only for the last few hours of the day) - saw Umphreys McGee late night (2a-6a) at the House of Blues and they were terrific - Saturday at the Fest saw Morning 40 Federation (just ok), Cowboy Mouth (unique and fun) and the Allmans (some tunes were really smokin, other really dragged) at the main stages as well as a number of performers (many mentioned above) at the smaller stages, including an unbelievable kid (maybe 8 years old) playing the acordian and singing 'Lovelight" - only at Jazzfest. Sunday was highlighted by Papa Grows Funk (really hot) but was a bit disappointed in Big Sam's Funky Nation and even Steely Dan (good, not great); as is usually the case, it is the secondary groups at the Blues or Gospel tents that really leave their mark and made it a great weekend - weather Sat and Sun was 85-87 degrees (almost a bit too hot as was no where to run but really quite tolerable if you stayed hydrated). Everyone should go at least once as certainly my words cannot convey the magic nor the importance of this event, above and beyond the music.
Did Wednesday to Monday second weekend. Went something like this -
- Marcia Ball at Lafayette Square
- Walter Wolfman Washington at dba
- Theresa Anderson in store at LA Music Factory
- Willie Tee All Stars at Lafayette Square
- Trio + 1 (Porter/Vidacovich/Benevento/Skerik)
at Maple Leaf)- Show of the weekend for me.
Fri.(Skipped fairgrounds due to rain and ate all
- Bayou Rendezvous at Howlin Wolf (NOLA Social
Club, NOLA All Stars, Papa Grows Funk) Another
night with Mr. Porter.
- Gangbe Brass Band
- Zigaboo Funk Revue
- Snooks Eaglin
- Allman Brothers
- Dr. John and the Mule at CAC Mule was the
disappointment of the weekend. CAC is an
absolute dump. Upside was leaving early and
- Anders Osborne at dba
- Golden Wings (gotta start Sunday at the
- Papa Grows Funk
- Anders Osbourne
- Alvin Batiste Tribute (Memorial) w/ Bob
French, Branford Marsalis & Harry Connick,
- Poncho Chavis
- The Radiators
- Tin Men at dba
- Sonny Landreth & Anders Osbourne at Rock n'
- Stanton Moore Trio at dba
Gained about five pounds. Lost my voice and a good sized piece of my brain. Totally worth it.
LSRider, your comments about the CAC are right on. That place is bad news with hideous sound. All the shows that were previously at the Orpheum or Saenger theatres have migrated there.... I wish the owners of those properties would get on the ball and get them open again; many other businesses that took water in their neighborhood (the CBD and Canal St) are open again.
Love hearing about everybody else's experiences! Saturday at the Fest was HOT and CROWDED but I was fortunately with a crowd of music going and FEST professionals so we were able to navigate without too many problems....
A couple of random observations/questions:
I've been to Jazzfest three times, and I spent the LEAST amt, of time at the jazz tent/stages. I'm not saying that this is right, only that jazz is one of my least favorite types of music.
The FI Do DO stage is one of my favorites!
Who else had the Crayfish Monica? Pure manna from heaven!
Crawfish Monica - could have lived off that alone for my 4 days there...
Fais Do Do is such a great stage. I generally don't go in the tents, jazz, blues or gospel, unless there is an act playing I REALLY want to see. I prefer the outdoor stages. Congo Square is a great place to start your day, get your wits about you, have some food, some smoke, align your running pardners, etc.
I couldn't get anywhere near The Allman Bros. I couldn't even get close enough to hear the music or see the video screens it was that crowded. It was fine by me -- not all that into seeing the headliners due to crowd issues.
Highlight for me was Donald Harrison 1am show at Snug Harbor. Henry Butler sat in for two long songs. I've seen Henry a dozen times or more and this was perhaps the best yet. Incredible.
Frenchman Street was hopping all night. Kind of like a voodoo Shakedown Street.
>I couldn't get anywhere near The Allman Bros. I couldn't even get close enough to hear the music or see the video screens it was that crowded.
We worked our way in through the right side to dead center fifty feet out. It was much easier working through the front of both main stages this year due to the new rule prohibiting chairs within fifty yards of the stage. Working in from the back remained near impossible.
>Frenchman Street was hopping all night. Kind of like a voodoo Shakedown Street.
That's one reason we kept gravitating back to dba (the other two were the beer selection - bottled Bigfoot at $4 a pop - and the bands they booked this year - the Stanton Moore Trio was the perfect 4:00 A.M close to the weekend and Tin Men (Washboard Chazz!) are always a great time). I ate far more of those one dollar chicken legs they were barbecuing on the street than I should have. Saw a coupla great brass bands out there too.
Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager
Arrived Weds betwen weekends and caught Marcia Ball. Met up with Walstib at LeBon Temps Roule for Robert Walters, Karl Denson, Johnny Vidacovich and a guitarist whose name I can't remember. Saw Allen Toussaint drive up in his Bronze Bentley and hanging on the front steps of the venue at setbreak. Rich got to speak with. Seemed like a real nice guy
Thurs, hit the quarter and ate some Beignets and Cafe au lait. Caught Charmaine Neville and the Willie T Allstars. Ate dinner at Muriels on Jackson Square... mmm tasty! then went to the Blue Nile on Frenchman Street for Benny D Band with Don Kane. The dude who runs the door at the Boom Bom Room was there doing his thing.
Fri, hit the fairgrounds after getting caught in the downpour walking back to the hotel after some coffee. Once the rain subsided hit the fairgrounds for Dirty Dozen Brass Band, ZZ Top, Better Than Ezra, George Benson and Counting Crows. Then hit the Riverboat Cajun Queen and met up with some more friends for Greyboy Allstars and I'm not sure which brass band for a "jamcruise"
Sat, hit the fairgrounds and caught New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Jumpin' Johhny Sansone, Gangbe Brass Band, Zigaboo's Funk Review, Buckwheat Zydeco, Snooks Eaglin, Galactic, & The Allman Bros.
Left the Fairgrounds and went out to the CAC for Dr. John and Mule. I left my backpack with all remaining tix and $$, phone, everything in the cab and didn't realize until he was long gone.
Some kind heads outside helpd us out with some miracle tix and we went searching for the cab. Imagine trying to track down a cab, but you don't know the cab company or cab # in New Orleans on Saturday night of the 2nd weekend of Jazzfest. You're fucked right?
We went back to the spot where we picked up the original cab and started flagging any cab that "looked similar" to the original. Ended up finding the original drivers' twin brother who also was a cabbie and he gave us the dude's cell#. We called him on a passnig strangers cell and he had our stuff and brought it to us. Can you believe that ?!?!?!
It was a true Jazzfest miracle!
So we cabbed back to the CAC for Mule and had missed Dr. John completely but were so happy to have all our stuff back it didn't matter. We ended up "Re-miracling" some folks who needed tix outside with the miracles we'd received since we had our original tix back, and had a great time at Mule. Shitty venue and all!
Sun, back to the fairgrounds for 007, Papa Grows Funk, Germaine Bazzle, Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, Allen Toussaint, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas, Alvin Bastiste Tribute, Steely Dan, Taj Mahal, Harry Connick Jr., & the Radiators.
Sun Night went to Tipitina's for Duampstaphunk with George and Leo surprise guests, Therea Anderson, Trombone Shorty, Big Sam and POPPA FUNK!
Here's my summary photo recap of my Jazzfest 2007. enjoy~
Shit I forgot. Monday went to the LA Music Factory for The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and John Cleary with a stroll by the river between sets.
Some really fantastic photos and I am very happy to hear that things worked out with your backpack and the cab!
Benny D and his bandmates are friends of mine; I'm glad you checked them out. I'm gonna forward him some of the shots you snapped at his performance.....
Man, Benny D is a fuckin' SHREDDER. Blows me away every time I see him play. Makes me want to practice my guitar. He was in fine form that night and played some real nice melodic stuff. Of course at about 1000 mph.