Young" ceased to apply years ago, but expect plenty of kneeling around the Acura Stage on Jazz Fest's final Sunday, when a longtime target of the festival makes his Fair Grounds bow between sets by New Orleans royalty Allen Toussaint and the Neville Brothers. Neil Young was already 10 years into his second career as a solo musician when the Nevilles issued their self-titled Capitol debut in 1978. In that watershed era for American music — revisited brilliantly on his double-LP 1977 retrospective, Decade — few recording artists loomed larger than Young, who went from Buffalo Springfield Cali-folkie and sometime Crosby, Stills & Nash backbone to Harvest's lone ranger and Crazy Horse's garage-rocking firewalker, a split personality he upheld in the decades to come.
Now 63, the Toronto native has always fed off such disparities. His 2006 protest album Living With War refutes the patriotic strains of 1980's Hawks & Doves, and the years that followed the latter saw him trying on genres like masks: throwaway hard rock (Re-ac-tor), dated dance punk (the vocoder-voiced Trans) and affected rockabilly (Everybody's Rockin', which was even attributed to a fictional group, Neil & the Shocking Pinks). Young rebounded, of course, closing the '80s with reunions with CSNY and Crazy Horse and tapping new generations of fans in the '90s through partnerships with Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam and avant-garde filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who captured Young on tour in a 1997 documentary, The Year of the Horse.
A near-death experience in 2005, including treatment for and recovery from a brain aneurysm, hasn't hindered the prolific artist, as three studio albums, two live reissues and one boxed set attest. His latest, Fork in the Road, appeared on longtime home Reprise in April. In effect a eulogy for the flailing auto industry, it's delivered in the same apparitional shiver fans first heard on Buffalo Springfield's eponymous 1966 debut. "Just singing a song won't change the world," one chorus goes. Singing hundreds of them, however, is another story.
2:55 p.m. Sun., May 3