The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is in its 45th year, and is as hard to define as the music genre it is named after. Those Jazzy parameters were pushed with the inclusion of acts like Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, Elton John, and Louisiana native’s Juvenile and Mannie Fresh – or completely torn down, with the likes of party maker Pitbull.
This was the most interesting element, how would Jimmy Buffett fans be taken to Margaritaville then be rocked by the Southern hip-hop of T.I.? How young revelers could dance in the mud alongside folks who were at Woodstock in ’69? Indeed there was much handwringing about the commercial side of things, questions about the survival of the heritage and soul – but there was an undeniable and inescapable energy (and tens of thousands of people help with that).
Of course there was the option to pass on the superstar acts if incredible local talent was what you were after. It provided for a rich expression of sounds, indeed that’s what the freedom of Jazz is about, and the setting of New Orleans itself a mixing pot of Native American, African, and European colonial influences provides the perfect stage.
You can’t quench the musical desire of this city in Jazz Fest season, Bob Dylan himself was in town playing to a capacity Saenger Theatre, not in the festival fair grounds, that place already had the thousands turn up rain, mud and shine.
A few to mention:
Rock legends The ‘Oo came with much fan fare and they didn’t disappoint. They put on a show that was, in Pete Townshend’s words, ‘A rock treatise’. Everything you would expect from the band minus the on stage destruction of instruments (those days have passed). Roger Daltry swinging the microphone around in giant loops, epic guitar solos, pick throwing, and a set-list packed with classics.
A ball of energy dressed in sequins. He played as one of the last acts of the night, after a long humid day the clouds opened up and Jimmy came out right on time for a dazzling performance in the thunder and lightning.
This was a different groove, a dose of Nigerian Afrobeat music of the richest color. African drums and Jazz in songs that addressed serious social issues, others songs just stated it was ‘time to dance’ – all were unique.
Geno Delefose & French Rockin’ Boogie
The cowboy of Creole and Louisiana local gave an exhibition in the sounds of Zydeco. Embraced by the crowd, he played an irresistibly jumpy; Cajun influenced music that was a slice of local life.
Article: Jacques Lang