Jazz Fest wrapped up a first weekend full of beautiful weather and hard choices. Closing the day on Sunday were Etta James, Dave Matthews, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Earth, Wind and Fire. Some moments of note Sunday:
-Pete Seeger had plenty to reflect on during an interview on the Music Heritage Stage. The audience sang him a not-so-memorable rendition of Happy Birthday for his 90th. Among the probing questions was just what went wrong when Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. Seeger said he wanted to hear the words to "Maggie's Farm" but couldn't and complained that the sound system was off. To which, he says, he was told that "The band wanted it that way." Seeger said he then cut the cable.
-Seeger commented on a range of topics, from the recovery of early folk songs and spirituals to being hauled before the House Unamerican Activities Committee in the 1950s to performing prior to President Barack Obama's inauguration. He also sang a light-hearted song called "English is Crazy," noting "If vegetarians eat vegetables, then what do humanitarians eat?" and "If the more than one index are indecis, why aren't many Kleenex called Kleenecis?"
-English may create problems for literalists, but Germaine Bazzle's scatting is both more absurd and thoroughly joyful. She began with "When You're Smiling" and scatted and sang her way through a fun set in the Jazz Tent.
-On the Fais Do-Do Stage, the Avett Brothers of North Carolina was one of the best new acts to hit Jazz Fest. Its upbeat country music wowed Festgoers.
-Etta James worked her way through the throes of lust and love. She made "You Can Keep Your Hat On" funkier and dirtier than I've ever heard it done. She then went right into Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart," singing "Didn't I make you feel like you were the only man..."
-Terence Blanchard's ensemble keeps writing impressive new work. The group debuted music it recently recorded at the Ogden Museum. When the album is released, it will include some tracks with spoken word contributions by Dr. Cornel West.