It’s been raining a bit down here but that hasn’t stopped the party. Hey, what’s a little rain to the residents of NOLA, right? Just dig out the ponchos and shrimp boots. That’s boots not boats.
The frst day kicked off with an impressive set by allison Krause and Robert Plant. The musical setting, anchored by T-Bone Burnett, was a wonderful display of the sort of stylistic mixture that is the roux of the New Orleans musical gumbo and showcased not only the Celtic roots of both country and rock and roll but the strong vocals of Krause as Plant worked hard at providing a strong duet performance. The music was so solid that local legends Alan Tousiaant (below) and Aaron Neville (finally back home!) were seen listening in.
Other highlight sof the weekend were sets by the Voices of the Wetlands band, a mixture of some local performers like Cyrille NEville, Mac Rebannack, Tab Benoit, Anders Osbourne and Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone among others and Billy Joel, who first impressed locals by showing up a day early on a motorcycle to listen to other acts and then played in a massive downpour, at one point doing an impromptu version of SInging In The Rain and jumping up to twirl a microphone stand and splash everyone within range on the stage.
Other highlights were Marcia Ball and Sonny landreth sitting in with other acts and playing someplace different in town virtually every nite of the week, Wayne Dopsie AND Rocking Dopsie both playing sets, Little Freddie King at 80-something blowing the roof off the Blues Tent and of course great gospel music right next door to the blues in the Gospel Tent … you haven’t heard good music until you’ve heard a 30 voice chorus getting a crowd on it’s feet with a band that would make the Rolling Stones jealous .. remember this is where James Brown, Aretha, Little Richard, Jerry Lee, Elvis…well pretty much everyone who was everyone in music in the 50’s other than Chuck Berry got their start.
This weekend had Randy Newman bringing the audience to tears with his version of Louisiana…not a dry eye to be seen as he sang “they’re trying to wash us away” and the first performance by Aaron Neville since Katrina as he sat in with Brother Art for several songs and brought the crowd to it’s feet when he walked on stage. The Nevilles are the ehart and soul of music in NOLA and Aaron will be performing today in the Gospel Tent and the Brothers will close on Sunday nite, the tradtional slot they took over from the Fess, Professor Longhair, after his deat but have not done since Katrina.
And of course the food…don;t forget the food. If you’re in town stop by and say hi..Eric and I will be on the stoop until about noon every day. Maurepas Street right around the corner form Liuzzas At The Track and if you haven’t been to Jazz Fest well, as Eric says, that’s jsut a shame.
For updates and pictures more often, visit www.nola.com . Bon temps roulez!!