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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

click to enlarge 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.

click to enlarge Naughty Professor guitarist Bill Daniel.
  • Naughty Professor guitarist Bill Daniel.

Later, District A City Councilmember Susan Guidry stood near the front row of the Gentilly Stage for Steve Winwood, who said only a few words during his jam-heavy hourlong set. Winwood and his monster band — only a quintet with tremendous chops, including Richard Bailey's octopus-like drumming and multi-instrumentalist Paul Booth adding saxophone, keys and vocals — jammed through hits like Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home" and Traffic's "The Low Spark of the High-Heeled Boys" and "Dear Mr. Fantasy."

Guitarist Jose Neto's loose yet technical finger-picked style lacked the kind of depth (most noticeably on closing song "Gimme Some Lovin'") Winwood brought to the guitar when he stepped away from his organ. But Neto and the rest of the band exploded with a huge, solo-filled "I'm a Man." The jams didn't hold back — the song almost hit a snag as a percussion solo went on several bars too long. Winwood brought the band back together for the song's finale, then followed with a slightly deflated-sounding version of crowd-pleasing pop hit "Higher Love."

New Orleans honky tonk queen Kim Carson beamed from the Fais Do Do stage and gave a nod to the stage's closing act, Kacey Musgraves.

"It's kind of frat boy time in Nashville," Carson said. "She's busting in the doors."

Carson then launched into a faithful rendition of "You're Looking at Country" and added that she and Musgraves likely have a mutual hero in Loretta Lynn.

Later that afternoon, Musgraves' band joined the stage — dressed with a few technicolor Mexican blankets, neon cacti and some trailer park lawn ornaments— to Ennio Morricone's main theme from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The band wore matching Nudie-inspired suits with twinkling LED accents, and Musgraves wore a white leather fringe skirt and matching vest with blue, LED-lit cowboy boots. Musgraves — a slightly edgy answer to the current state of Nashville's bro country dominance — embraces the kitsch and the realities of middle-American wastelands and heartlands with equal parts humor and heart. She kept things relatively light for her sunny Jazz Fest set: "I hope you're ready for a good-ass time."

She picked from her 2013 album Same Trailer, Different Park, opening with the melancholic "Silver Linings," the lovesick "Stupid," and "Blowin' Smoke," an anthem to ambitions and their dead ends. She shined with her smart sense of humor and ways around words, like "Biscuits," in which she sings, "Pouring salt in my sugar won't make yours any sweeter / Pissing in my yard ain't gonna make yours any greener." But her brightest spots were on her more intimate songs like "I Miss You" and "Merry Go Round," which, like "Blowin' Smoke," is able to speak to a mainstream country audience despite reveling in life's sharp and sad little details.

But Musgraves was there mostly to party and ooze some charm ("I messed up my nails on some crawfish — now that's country"). Her reggae-inspired song, "Step Off," transitioned to Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds," which was among several other covers, including Weezer's "Island in the Sun" and TLC's "No Scrubs."

For her finale, her band kicked up the volume for "These Boots are Made for Walkin'" and she shot confetti from two handheld cannons, a fitting (and colorful) choice for Nashville's latest anti-trend setter.

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