JAZZ FEST 2014: Day Three Highlights (Bombino + Galactic + The Word)

Our first weekend at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival sadly came to a close on Sunday like everyone’s elses, but some friends stuck around and will be seeing shows all week while most of the rest of our crew headed home yesterday. Sunday was definitely a great day at the festival; here’s what we saw at the fairgrounds and did late-night.

Our day started off with Bombino and we made our arrival to the gates right as him and his band were taking the stage at the Blues Tent. A bunch of our crew hadn’t ever seen this band before, but I was fondly recalling the time two years back when I caught their set at the very same stage and knew we’d be in for a treat. And very quickly, this set established itself as one of the best I’ve ever seen of Jazz Fest. The West-African rhythms that they bring to the blues they’re playing is just phenomenal, and the entire tent was soon on their feet dancing and clapping along.

It was an incredible scene, really, because nobody is really in the Blues Tent to dance. The place was just going bonkers.

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We got into the fray for the Galactic set and caught the entire thing front to back, and we saw how powerful that band can be when they have some female energy up front. Maggie Koerner is the girl up front for the band’s latest tour and she absolutely shredded the funky for that crowd.

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They played a bunch of the new stuff and even gave the drum solo to Stanton Moore and a neatly trimmed Mike Dillon, and it was just a solid set of music front to back. Really glad I caught this set.

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Our crew got over to see Slow Hand himself Eric Clapton take the main stage not too far after Galactic finished up, and it was pretty awesome to see his legend live in the flesh. I was a bit disappointed by the pace and the feel of the set which is something Relix seemed to agree with, but he was playing to the Jazz Fest elite there and I’m not surprised he kept to a mellow sundrenched blues. I was hoping for a “Forever Man” with hella percussion stabs but it just wasn’t happening, but we did get a “Layla” and a “Cocaine” and I was off to my hotel to rest up and recharge for the late nights.

Right down Canal from my hotel is the beautifully renovated Joy Theater, definitely one of the nicer venues you’ll encounter while you’re in New Orleans (note my use of the word “nicer”, not necessarily better). The Word was scheduled to appear and the show was sold-out and packed, and holy cow this was a rager. For the Sunday where most people knew they only had that final night to party, I think everyone in the crowd was really letting it all out and feeding a ton of energy to the band. This was my first full show from this band and I couldn’t believe how much material they had. We left completely exhausted and sweat-soaked. So happy I ended my Jazz Fest with this show.

Our friend Jim Brock shot day three for us and brought home this gallery of the first Sunday of the fest.

Note: this post would not have been possible had it not been for the generosity and support from the Acura team. Their stage brought the biggest action of the weekend and the fact that they wanted to help me attend the festival is a dream come true. Team #AcuraLive FTW.