One of the best byproducts of the number of acts booked for Jazz Fest is that so many musicians are in town and available for extra shows. That's the premise of the Mardi Gras Indian Orchestra (pictured) which gathers at Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest (what organizer John Driver calls the "high holidays"). Today's assembly included Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes singing with Indians David Montana (in blue with the tambourine) and Juan Pardo (right). The band included Reggie Scanlon and Camille Baudoin of the Radiators, Evan Christopher on clarinet, Helen Gillet on cello, Kevin O'Day on drums and many others. The group worked through a host of popular Indian songs such as "Indian Red" and "Shallow Water."
One of the best sets of the day was the half-Meter-plus reunion that is the New Orleans Social Club. In the Blues Tent, keyboardist Henry Butler was joined by George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli, Ivan Neville and Raymond Weber. They worked through Meters tunes (changing "Africa" to "New Orleans"), some Professor Longhair songs and "Indian Red" -- which seems to be everywhere, including use in HBO's Treme last Sunday (juxtaposing a New York studio recording led by Dr. John with its use at a funeral ceremony by a group of Indians, including appearances by Monk Boudreaux, Darryl Montana and Cherice Harrison-Nelson).
In a last minute substitution, Earth, Wind and Fire replaced Aretha Franlin, who cancelled on short notice. They were up to the task, working through their catalog, just like they did a last year ago on the Congo Square Stage.
The Chouval Bwa is the best ride at Jazz Fest.