After a fantastic touch down here in New Orleans last Friday night, I was pretty amped up on adrenaline the next morning in anticipation of getting down to the Jazz Fest fairgrounds. So much of the amazing music of the city gets celebrated every year and the way this part of the festival attracts the older and younger generation is always something I’ve been impressed with. When you approach the fairgrounds through the surrounding neighborhoods, you definitely get a feel for the idea that the entire city sort of lives for this moment. Well wait, not just this moment — they live for tons of moments like these. The entire city seems to participate in some way, shape or form and it’s got a certain feeling that you can’t fully describe. But it always makes me feel good.
So Saturday was our first taste of that and definitely got me into the full New Orleans spirit. On our way in we strolled by the Gospel Tent and immediately went for some quail/andouille gumbo that was just incredible. I tried to keep sunblock off my eating hands, but it was impossible with the heat so I stuck with something I could eat with a spoon. It was clear to me that I was going to end my day over at Tom Petty and I’ve learned that there are some festivals where you don’t really get a lot of benefit from “running around” at. Jazz Fest is one of those festivals if you ask me. The way the crowds fill in with HUGE flags and decorations and some comforts of home, you want to get comfortable with them. So we sort of lazied our way around the festival to start and I got a glimpse of Amanda Shaw.
She was a great start to the day even if her pop sensibilities were a bit too country twangy. But it was a far departure from what we were going to see next: Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars. Featuring the likes of Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Johnny Vidacovich and more, it was definitely the set of the day for me and these guys just absolutely killed their set. Stanton Moore came out and rocked on a tune but Johnny Vidacovich was totally killing it the whole time. And obviously Anders was stealing the show whenever he stepped up at all. He doesn’t need to try all that hard to impress these days but he brought 1000% like he always seems to do. Really dug this set.
From there we went to the Blues Tent and saw a legend who I had never heard of before. If you’ve never seen Bobby Rush before, you’re missing out. After seeing about 15 minutes of his set there is no doubt that I will see this guy every chance I get in the Jazz Fest years to come.
After beating the heat there for a few minutes we went onto a good spot we had lined up for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers doing their headliner set. It had been a somewhat dynamic lineup, but I was excited to see Tom Petty from the very beginning and made use of the excellent quail / andouille gumbo I ate earlier in the day to work up the energy to rock as hard as possible on this set. But I felt like Petty was just holding back the whole time. He did cover the JJ Cale classic, “Traveling Light,” though…
And that awesome Traveling Wilbury’s song, “Handle With Care.”
But I just couldn’t get as into it as I wanted to. I think I was too far on stage left to really get a full feeling of the soundsystem, which can dramatically alter how powerful the concert can seem. Oh well, plenty more Jazz Fest to keep me busy on Sunday so I wasn’t worried.
After the show we made our way home for dinner and went pretty promptly over to Le Bon Temps Roule to catch Gravity A playing. They were a pretty cool band and had some elements I really dug, and the crowd was loving every second of it and really had a good interaction with this band. Definitely want to catch them again sometime…
From there, we regrouped one last time at home and just strolled our way over to Tipitina’s for Greyboy Allstars doing their MJ Tribute night. The show was sold-out and definitely packed outside when we showed up, and the energy inside this show was just absolutely crazy all night. If there’s anything that drunk people love, it’s dancing to Michael Jackson songs. So Greyboy did not disappoint at all. Also Big Sam stopped by and blasted some horns with Karl D. and Eddie Roberts (from the New Mastersounds) also stopped by and shredded his way through some fast funk. The show was killer but it eventually had to end with “Thrilled” and “Billy Jean.”
Strolling home around 5:30am meant that the birds were already chirping and the sun had definitely risen by the time I found myself to my air mattress. First time in a while I had stayed up that late, actually…. “classic” Jazz Fest moment, right?
Here’s a few shots from the fairgrounds and Tipitina’s for Greyboy: