It's a weird thing. Waiting a half hour or so to see a generation gap and watch the dots connect. Jazz Fest has been good at introducing new elements of "New Orleans heritage" and "tradition" to its massive lineup indie-pop songbird Theresa Andersson and bounce divas Sissy Nobby, Katey Red and Big Freedia now grab as much attention as any Neville or Andrews. Today, crowds watched the roots of rhythm and blues stretch into the blossoming hip hop community. One minute its "Blueberry Hill," the next it's "Back That Azz Up."
This afternoon, New Orleans R&B legend Clarence "Frogman" Henry proved he still can croak. He sang like a girl, and a frog, on his light-hearted setlist with classics like "Ain't Got No Home" and pop standard "Ain't She Sweet," and he ribbed the crowd while getting them to sing-along to "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do" and "You Always Hurt the One You Love."
"Y'all don't know the words," he laughed. Though he looked anxious (checking his watch a couple times) and a bit tired (Henry was assisted by a walker on and off stage and had to sit down frequently), he and his band of 35 years proved their status as layers of a foundation. (Though, "give credit where credit is due," said Henry to Allen Toussaint, who arranged much of his material.) He commented on his career, and many wives, with a massive smile.
He also took a curious jab at police officers guarding the stage for having their hands in their pockets Henry hoped they weren't playing "pocket pool." Still dirty at 73 years old.
Following Henry, at the Congo Square Stage, were New Orleans legends in their own right, Juvenile and Mannie Fresh. The two also took a light-hearted approach, running through a massive set but performing only the first few minutes of Juve and Fresh/Big Tymers hits alike. Juve picked apart his catalogue, going as far back as early Cash Money hits like "Solja Rag."
Fresh continued his goofy party boy/biggest baller alive appeal, wearing a "Do you want fries with that?" T-shirt and introducing new cuts like "Like A Boss" and "Drought" from his latest Return of the Ballin'.
Most surreal, and annoying, however, was an appearance by Metairie white rapper duo So Fresh, apparent Mannie Fresh proteges who can't wait to turn 21 to get drunk, as their song went. Juve dug it. "Takes me back to Beastie Boys," he said.