Jazz Fest wrapped up seven days of music marked by great weather, big headliners and may break the festival attendance record. Sunday was a great day at the Fair Grounds marred by a brief but fierce downpour moments after Neil Young tore up a set of guitar strings in a weird quest for feedback and noise in a Beatles cover that served has his encore. Some Sunday highlights after the jump.
The Blues Tent was a good place to spend Sunday. Cedric Burnside and Lightin' Malcolm had a great set, and the young Burnside seems to have unlimited talents. At times the grandson of R. L. Burnside seemed to not even need Malcolm's accompaniment on guitar. Buddy Guy finished the day in the tent and seemed to be having a great time playing with the audience and singing off-color verses to familiar blues tunes. He was having such a good time, it barely registered that he was playing standards as tired as "Mustang Sally" and "I'm a Man."
Neil Young's first visit to Jazz Fest was impressive. It's hard to imaging any one musician has ever had more equipment moved onto a Jazz Fest stage. Young put aside his array of guitars to sit down at an upright piano for a few songs, and he had an organ at the back of the stage for a single song - one of his newer save-the-environment recordings. The set ranged from a solo acoustic "The Needle and the Damage Done" to a 16-minute version of "Down By the River," driven by extended, feedback-heavy jamming. Young played some of his biggest hits including "Cinnamon Girl," "Heart of Gold," "Old Man" and "Hey Hey My My." I thought it was odd that he ended with "Rockin' in the Free World (Was that for younger fans who may never have heard of Buffalo Springfield?) "But the encore was a bit stranger. He started into the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" rather conventionally, but by the end of the song, Young was waving his guitar at the amps in search of feedback, ripping the strings and eventually just shredded all of them into a frayed and noisy mess. (Maybe there's some inside joke with aging musicians. Bon Jovi also closed with a Beatles cover - "Twist and Shout.")
After the rains passed, the end of the day offered a mix of familiar local sounds. The Neville Brothers closed Acura sounding sharp on songs like "Big Chief." Nearby on the Jazz & Heritage Stage, the Soul Rebels were stirring up some fun, imploring the crowd to "Do the steak and egg."