Sunday, April 26, 2015

More from Saturday at Jazz Fest

Posted By on Sun, Apr 26, 2015 at 12:41 AM

click to enlarge Little Maker performs on the Lagniappe Stage at Jazz Fest. - FRANK ETHERIDGE
  • Little Maker performs on the Lagniappe Stage at Jazz Fest.

Now polished after several years of no-cover, weekly residencies at the Circle Bar and Blue Nile, Little Maker brought its infectious roots-rock energy to the Lagniappe Stage, delivering a showcase of bandleader Micah McKee’s stellar songwriting abilities that span from broken-heart devastation (“Glendive”) to bouncy fun (“Soldier Girl”). Local guitarist/vocalist Rory Callais (Vox and the Hound) joined the band for a cover of The Band's  “It Makes No Difference.” a fitting choice for this day with its refrain “And the sun don’t sun anymore / And the rain falls down on my floor.”

The Legacy of Sydney Byrd exhibition in the Grand Stand pays tribute to the late Mississippi-born photographer, who for the last 40-plus years documented the culture of her adopted hometown of New Orleans and captured in brilliant color and black-and-white portraiture the essence of local icons such as Professor Longhair and James Booker, whose smile, eye-patch and Miller Lite come alive in Byrd’s lens for a photo that is just one highlight in this stellar show.

As two shirtless men wearing, Planet of the Apes masks danced wildly in the mud with a cheering crowd encircling them at Fais Do-Do, Lost Bayou Ramblers fiddler/singer Louis Michot proved his life-affirming stage presence not damp when wet, advising his audience to “be one with the water.” Rain ain’t nothin’ for boys born on Bayou Teche such as Louis and brother Andre Michot, whose blistering play on the Cajun accordion and pedal-steel guitar drove a high-energy set that included a funky-rhythm breakdown during a guest sit-in by impressive local bassist Eric Vogel (Big Sam’s Funky Nation).

Calling local legends such as Fats Domino as the best from the first generation of rock and roll, Quint Davis credited England as producing the best in rock’s second generation when he introduced The Who, British purveyors of the genre’s styles from earlier punk to latter-day arena-rock. The septuagenarians proved over two hours at Acura Stage that they are still in fully capable of harnessing rock’s rebellious energy, The Who delivered smash after smash to a singalong crowd suddenly graced by the sun. With his trademark unbuttoned shirt revealing a still-fit physique, frontman Roger Daltrey acknowledged The Who’s living-legend stature, calling its greatest-hits collection “an academic treatise” that should be “required studying for any young rock musician.”

Despite drug-related deaths that took Keith Moon (drums) in 1978 and John Entwistle (bass) in 2002, The Who of 2015 looks and sounds fantastic. A thunderous drum roll still ushers in “Who Are You?” and “Magic Bus” still sounds like an acid trip. An awkward moment arose as Pete Townshend introduced “Pictures of Lillie” as a tune he wrote as a 22-year-old who discovered masturbation thanks to the pictures on his wall of Lillie Langtry, a British beauty from the 18th century — largely considered the first-ever pin-up girl. Awkward because we all now know this guitar god began masturbating at 22 (???) and uncomfortably awkward considering his arrest on child-pornography charges in 2002. Townshend, though no longer capable of the signature full-windmill arm motions (not that he didn't go through the motions) after a torn rotator cuff years ago, can still wail on his Fender Telecaster, crushing both his big riffs and delicate moments in “Baba O’Riley” (aka the“Teenage Wasteland” song). Daltrey dominated the song as well, with his powerful, big-range vocals and harmonica, which he used to fantastic effect in replacing the violin from the studio version’s epic intro. After a monstrous “Won’t Get Fooled Again” closed the set, just as it has concluded countless Who concerts before it, Daltrey seemed summed up the roaring crowd’s approval as he joked in farewell, “Not bad for a bunch of old farts, eh?"

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