@ZackTeibloom I can’t believe it’s over. After 11 days of Jazz Festing, I’m prepared to call it my favorite non-sleepover festival. Sure, you can rock harder at ACL or Lolla, but for a complete tapestry of music, Jazz Fest has it all. I feel like I know the NOLA scene better than any other town after the last week and a half.
I also realized I hadn’t given any of the shows I’d seen a grade in my review. I guess I was waiting for the bar to be set. And it was. Neil Young set that bar for every show I ever see from now on. The perfect 10.
Andy will be sad to see that so many of the top shows are from the second weekend, but the festival really kicked it up a notch.
- Neil Young- 10: The absolute perfect show. A dream set-list* played with precision from the man whose career defines Rock. It will never die.
- Kings of Leon- 9.6: Their live show, like your sex, is on fire. I made friends with someone with VIP access and was so close I thought my ear drums would blow out. A blistering show from quite arguably the biggest rock band in the world under age 40**.
- Buddy Guy- 9.5: The ideal way to close out the festival. The rain started coming within two minutes of Neil playing the final note of “A Day in the Life” on a xylophone and the crowd booked it to the Blues tent for Buddy. He was scorching. All his usual tricks of playing behind his back, with his teeth and dropping an F-bomb when necessary. “How you gonna replace me?” he sang. We never will.
- Allan Toussaint- 9.4: I enjoyed his interview in the grandstands even more than his afternoon set on the main stage. An intimate Q and A with a well-researched interviewer and a piano for whenever he wanted to play something. “You grew up hearing a lot of boogie woogie?” “Oh, yes,” Toussaint replied before pounding out thirty seconds of boogie. “For days.***”
- TR3- 9.3: Tim Reynolds wore antennas, got on his back and kicked his heels in the air and had Winnie the Pooh on stage for “Sex Machine.” Oh, and the music was pretty good too. Pretty damn good.
- Earth, Wind and Fire- 9.3: Some old acts like George Clinton age like warm beer. Earth, Wind and Fire age like a fine red wine. They even said so. Well, it was true.
- Theresa Anderson- 9.3: The queen of looping is a delight on stage. Watch her on YouTube immediately.
- Soul Rebels- 9.2: I know there was soul. I know it was funky. I know I danced a lot. I know I loved it. I don’t know much else.
- Joe Cocker- 9.2: The king of covers played air piano and looked out at us with his monster face as he tore through his classic set of covers.
- Soul Live 9.1: Funky with horns, grooving without, at their best with a guest singer I can’t even remember. Henry something?
- Crocodile Gumboot Dancers of South Africa- 9.1: Gumboot always means a good time. Put it in the pantheon of compound words with blow-job, ice-cream and hot-tub.
- Umphrey’s McGee- 9.0: The first hour I was wondering when The Disco Biscuits would take off their Umphrey’s masks. They went “In the Kitchen” and turned up the heat for a blistering last two hours. Do you know what “Mantis” sounds like at 4 a.m.? They didn’t until that night.
- Henry Butler- 8.9: A blind piano player who is also a world class photographer. Still not sure how that works, but dude plays that piano percussion style in a frenzy
- Dr. John- 8.8/John Mayall- 8.8: I only heard about three songs of each, but the legends were in full swing. Mayall especially had the blues crowd hopping.
- Ben Harper and the Relentless7- 8.8: Relentless indeed. Harper sweated up a storm as they motored through their new rock catalog and covered “Under Pressure,” as always.
- Solomon Burke- 8.7: The old pimp played sitting down as girls fanned him and worked the crowd over with his swagger.
- Midnite Disturbers- 8.7: The CSNY of NOLA jazz. They suffer a tiny bit from too many cooks, but when they trade solos, look out. I wish I saw a full set instead of bits and pieces of a few.
- Galactic- 8.7: Ben Ellman and Galactic had a huge weekend. They were inducted into the Tipitina’s walk of fame, had a number of shows and killed at each one.
- Trombone Shorty and New Orleans Ave.- 8.7 Trombone Shorty is known around New Orleans as the boy wonder who grew up to be the man. Check him out.
- Big Sam’s Funky Nation- 8.6: Big Sam taught me what second lining is. The rest of the band taught me that white jewish looking boys can funk. Thanks for the lesson.
- James Taylor- 8.5 He “Showered the people” with hits and kept the acoustic love coming, but it was a bit tame.
- Bonerama- 8.4: I’ve seen them four times in the last month and am having trouble getting it up for them at this point. No disrespect though. Still brassy good times.****
- Johnny Winter- 8.3: Classic electric guitarist, kind of over the hill, still wails at times.
- Ladysmith Redlions of South Africa- 8.3: Paul Simon’s future backing band if he ever does Graceland 2.
- Cowboy Mouth- 6.5: Corny southern rock. An atrocious cover of “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for and an obnoxious drummer/singer who somehow got the crowd engaged. Boo-urns.
*Does a finale of “Rockin’ in the Free World,” encore of “A Day in the Life” do anything for you? How bout if we add in “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man,” “Down by the River,” “Cinnamon Girl” and “Hey, Hey, My My”
**Go to Australia or Europe and then question how massive Kings of Leon is. It’s pretty much all they listen to down under.
*** Funny, “For days” is the answer I’d give for how long I’d like to listen to Toussaint.
****I go to their show and tell the person next to me the bonerama.com story. Always good for a laugh. New single sounds great. And they always do “When the Levee Breaks” or “Crosstown Traffic.”