With big national acts booked on the Acura and Gentilly stages, Jazz Fest is starting to resemble a cartoon of the United Stages as two coastal meccas and a bunch of fly-over states. The end of Saturday was a case in point, with Bon Jovi on Acura and Kings of Leon on Gentilly. Both shows were decent, not great. Kings of Leon was significantly better. (From a booking angle, it probably was a big success, because the Fair Grounds were packed early and the audiences for both shows very large.) But there was plenty of good music all day long at the fly-over stages.
- In transit between the poles, I caught some of the Midnight Disturbers' set. On stage was a conglomeration of members of Galactic, including Ben Ellman (sax) and Stanton Moore (drums), Big Sam Williams (trombone), Trombone Shorty (trumpet), Shamarr Allen (trumpet) and many others. They were giving a shout out to the 6th ward with a big funky version of "Buck it Like a Horse." BIg jams like this make for great sets. And the Jazz & Heritage Stage had a good crowd for it.
- Another exciting eclectic show was in the jazz tent. Percussionist Seguenon Kone (pictured) of Ivory Coast was joined by Dr. Michael White (clarinet), Jason Marsalis (vibes), Bruce Barnes (accordion), Marc Stone (lap steel guitar) and others and all wore brightly colored African prints, even the ever sharply dressed Dr. White. The first several songs worked really well with everyone fitting into the rhythm. There were also songs of Kone's in which the West African rhythm section just took over and the jazz musicians seemed to tread in carefully. It's great to see Jazz Fest schedule these kinds of sets - to see what happens -and there were some brilliant moments. It was in some ways an improvisational answer to the first weekend's Congo Square suite by Wynton Marsalis and Yacub Addy.
- One more note about the Kings of Leon. The band drifts ever farther away from the early long-haired look and raw Southern rock sound to something more stylish and mainstream. (Though the b do play up the son-of-a-preacher-man schtick.) They still play a lot of earlier material, and I thought that stuff sounded best. They also bring out a new type of Jazz Fest fan. At one point, a woman perched on a man's shoulders screamed at the band during a silent moment between songs. Then as everyone turned, she pulled up her shirt and flashed her breasts and a couple of devil horns. I am not sure if the Followill brothers were tempted - and they had plenty of time to check it out - or maybe they're just used to that. It's not something you see in the Jazz Tent too often.