It was a good day for the senior set at Jazz Fest. Eric Clapton turned in a masterful set, pumping the crowd up with songs like "Cocaine" and sitting down for a long interlude on acoustic guitar, as well as an acoustic version of "Layla." Monk Boudreaux led the Golden Eagles through a host of Mardi Gras Indian standards, including a slow-building and impassioned version of "Shallow Water," as well as tunes like "Lil Liza Jane."
With more headliners getting three-hour sets (Phish, Bruce Springsteen), perhaps other bands might get more than an hour onstage at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Bombino and his band turned in a blistering, whirling dervish of a blues rock set, most of it purely instrumental, and it left everyone wanting more. The Niger native is on a quick trip through Louisiana, having performed at Festival International Saturday, and plays a couple more U.S. dates (including Austin's Psyche Fest) before heading to Europe. His 2013 album, Nomad, was produced by the Black Keys Dan Auerbach, and it would be easy to expect that the band will be touring more in the U.S. given performances like the one today.
A more familiar face who hasn't played Jazz Fest often is John Hiatt, who pulled into the Fais Do-Do Stage and started with "Drive South," from his 1988 album Slow Turning. He played several songs from the album, which featured Sonny Landreth, who put together the backing band The Goners to record it. Today, Hiatt was backed by his current band, The Combo, and in addition to some of Hiatt's older tunes, they played songs off his forthcoming album Terms of My Surrender (expected July 15). Hiatt joked about his age, saying "We still call them records" and warning others about eating fried foods available at the Fair Grounds. His slightly raspy voice made it all sound like a Southern gentleman's folk wisdom, dispensed between gentler songs like "Real Fine Love" and a raucous version of "Perfectly Good Guitar."
With more than 30 years under its belt, the Rebirth Brass Band played plenty of familiar tunes at the Congo Square Stage, including its early anthem "Do Watcha Wanna." But it was nearly impossible to leave the set without three messages. The band wore matching T-shirts featuring its new album, Move Your Body (Basin Street), due in late June, and the set debuted some of its songs. The band appealed to the crowd to support drummer Derrick Tabb's Roots of Music band. And the group pushed the recent release of its namesake by NOLA Brewing, Rebirth Pale Ale.