Jazz Fest

Monday, May 4, 2015

Steve Winwood, Kacey Musgraves and more from Jazz Fest 2015's final day

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Kacey Musgraves.
  • Kacey Musgraves.

Performing an encore from its late-night, sweaty honkytonk performance at Siberia on Saturday night, Lafayette Cajun folk and rock band Feufollet hit the Fais Do Do Stage bright and early on Jazz Fest's final Sunday. The band's latest incarnation, with twangy fiddle player and singer Kelli Jones-Savoy, built a mighty Cajun wall of sound with rock 'n' roll and high-powered country. A cover of Brian Eno's slightly ominous "Baby's On Fire" was lit up with a propulsive accordion riff.

Naughty Professor brought the crowd to its feet when the band concluded its Lagniappe Stage set. The standing ovation definitely was earned — the New Orleans band's acrobatic, tightly knit horn lines and fluid sonic changes are unpredictable and deeply funky. The crowed hollered each time the band wound its way back to the slinky main riff from "The Elephant Hunt" from its upcoming album Out on a Limb.

Spotted in the crowd: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Chris Rose.

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Y@ Speak: skywriters in flight, afternoon delight

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 1:30 PM

A skywriter clogged everyone's Instagram feeds as if one person's sky was different from everyone else's, Jazz Fest concluded its second weekend with a small country of crowds, and hey, remember when it rained terrifyingly hard and a train fell off a bridge? Good times. Also in this week's Twitter roundup: libraries, New Orleans Saints news and a vandalized St. Roch Market.

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Jazz Fest 2015: Music and art came together at the NOCCA Pavilion

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 11:56 AM


While visual arts, food and musical performances were spread across the Fairgrounds over the seven days of Jazz Fest, they came together in the Cultural Exchange Pavilion each day, where New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) student artists and alumni performed and demonstrated their work. 

Brandan "Bmike" Odums, the NOCCA alum responsible for the explosive graffiti project ExhibitBe in Algiers last fall, designed the  backdrop for the stage in the pavilion, which changes each year to reflect a different culture. This year the pavilion was dedicated to NOCCA, and a photographic retrospective detailed the years-long relationship that's formed between the school and the festival. 

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The Meters, Lenny Kravitz and Anders Osborne at Jazz Fest

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 11:48 AM

Anders Osborne performs on the Acura Stage. - WILL COVIELLO
  • Anders Osborne performs on the Acura Stage.

On the closing day of Jazz Fest, the Acura Stage hosted a parade of guitar rock sets. George Porter Jr. kicked off the day with his Runnin' Pardners and returned for a reunion of The Meters. Anders Osborne and Lenny Kravitz also performed before Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue closed the festival.

Fans may have wondered whether Osborne would be able to perform. He tweeted earlier in the week that he had a back problem, and he managed it by playing guitars mounted in set positions on their own stands. Stage hands replaced them stand-and-all throughout the set. The show featured many of the harder-edged rock and rumbling, fuzzy blues he's often brought to Jazz Fest sets, such as "Move Back to Mississippi" and "Dyin' Days," which included a brief detour into Neil Young's "Down By the River." But the set also featured some mellower tunes, such as a song cowritten with John Michael Rouchell called "Tchoupitoulas Street Parade," which Osborne said he was debuting. The end of the set was an extended light reggae jam of "Sarah Anne." 

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Elton John, Aaron Neville and Midnight Disturbers at Jazz Fest

Posted By on Sun, May 3, 2015 at 11:32 AM

Aaron Neville sings in the Blues Tent. - JENNIFER ODELL
  • Aaron Neville sings in the Blues Tent.

At the first Jazz Fest in 1970, there were 66 paid admissions, said Preservation Hall Jazz Band tuba player and creative director Ben Jaffe. Speaking from the stage in the Blues Tent Saturday, he told the crowd his mother, Sandra Jaffe, had pointed that out to him earlier in the day.

“It’s amazing what it’s become,” Jaffe said, before thanking the audience for supportinging New Orleans. The sentiment put a positive spin on one of the busiest festival days in recent memory. The day was marked by long lines, and crowds for Jerry Lee Lewis set at the Acura Stage sprawled, leaving areas of the track and infield normally used for transit clogged with fans. But the attendance was a testament to the strength of a pair of headliners – Lewis and Elton John. Their music's  relevance to jazz piano links them to New Orleans’ music heritage.

Lewis’ voice isn’t what it once was, but by the time he got to “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” he’d satisfied the crowd with enough lightning fast excursions up and down the keys that nobody seemed to mind. His chatter between tunes was difficult to understand, but he eventually kicked out a solid “Great Balls of Fire” jam before wrapping up his set early. It was at least 10 or 15 minutes before he was scheduled to close when Lewis gave a wave to the crowd, picked up his cane and sauntered off as the band continued to play.

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Crowds, Jerry Lee Lewis and sign language at Jazz Fest 2015's Second Saturday

Posted By on Sat, May 2, 2015 at 9:05 PM

The Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Indians parade at Jazz Fest.
  • The Mohawk Hunters Mardi Gras Indians parade at Jazz Fest.

Today's headliner, Crowds, dwarfed the tiny Acura Stage and its headliner, Elton John, hours before he was set to perform. Sweeping camera shots of the stage showed lines, chairs and people — lots and lots of people — gathered around the surrounding racetrack behind the stage and in the many yards in front of it. Chairs blocked the tracks reserved for walking, turning Jazz Fest 2015's second Saturday into one of its most people-packed days of this year's event. The crowds were there for Sir Elton — bridges around the moat to his castle were in a constant traffic jam.

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More from Friday at Jazz Fest

Posted By on Sat, May 2, 2015 at 11:58 AM

Anthony Hamilton performs on the Congo Square Stage. - JENNIFER ODELL
  • Anthony Hamilton performs on the Congo Square Stage.

Across the Fair Grounds on Friday, soul singers — in a variety of forms and styles — wailed, growled and warbled their way through music that came from the heart.

In the Blues Tent, indigenous Australian guitarist and singer Gurrumul performed a mix of familiar and new songs in the Yolngu language. Gurrumul’s bassist Michael Hohnen spoke to the crowd throughout the set, but the heartache in the blind singer’s performance needed no translation. On slower, more pensive tunes he pushed his voice to its limits, issuing waves of emotion that were as reflective as they were spiritual. Holding his guitar upside down, he strummed through the often country-tinged set with his left hand, but his voice made the more lasting impression.

At the Acura Stage, two of the multiple female singers featured on Galactic’s forthcoming album, Into the Deep, delivered a more traditional form of soul. After warming things up with a tight set of instrumental music featuring Mike Dillon on percussion alongside Stanton Moore’s drum kit, the band welcomed Macy Gray to the stage. 

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Friday at Jazz Fest

Posted By on Sat, May 2, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Irma Thomas performs in the Gospel Tent. - BRAD RHINES
  • Irma Thomas performs in the Gospel Tent.

There were plenty of familiar faces performing at Jazz Fest Friday, and the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars featured many on the same stage. The blues and funk collective featured Tab Benoit and Anders Osborne on guitar, George Porter Jr. on bass, Cyril Neville on percussion, Johnny Sansone on harmonica, Michael Doucet on fiddle and Johnny Vidacovich on drums. The group traded songs throughout its headlining set in the Blues Tent, from Neville’s Meters-inspired “Ain’t No Funk Like Louisiana Funk” to Doucet’s French-language cover of Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman.” Each song left plenty of room for Benoit and Osborne to stretch out on blistering solos. At the end of the set, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux joined the band for a rowdy performance of “Li’l Liza Jane” that had fans dancing and singing in aisles.

Early in the afternoon, Irma Thomas drew a big crowd for her annual show at the Gospel Tent. Since 2006, the performance has been billed as a tribute to Mahalia Jackson, but as of last year, it’s “The Gospel Soul of Irma Thomas.” Much of the set was dedicated to the kind of contemporary gospel often heard at the tent, but the show started off in true revival fashion with Thomas belting out “Down by the Riverside” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” She slowed things down with the classic “Somebody Bigger Than You and I” and then segued into a rousing rendition of “How Great Thou Art,” which brought the crowd to its feet. Thomas’s performance wasn’t focused strictly on Mahalia Jackson, but she did sing a rollicking, hand-clapping version of “Didn’t It Rain.”

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Jazz Fest 2015: Photos from Day 5

Posted By on Sat, May 2, 2015 at 9:37 AM

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