Amanda Shires performs at Jazz Fest.
Country music bands have garnered a lot of attention at the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Thursday highlights
included Sturgill Simpson
, Amanda Shires and Alison Krauss & Union Station.
Texas-born singer-songwriter Amanda Shires performed her soft-spoken, raw country songs on the Fais Do-Do stage. She sang her hit “Bulletproof,” an eerie tale about a real occasion when she was given a bag of tiger body parts for her protection. Many of the succeeding numbers were just as attention-grabbing, and some left the crowd silent and rapt. She did “Swimmer…” as a solo with a ukulele and some whistling. Together with her band, Shires also performed a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man,” followed by originals “The Drop and Lift” and “Shake the Walls.” She also did “When You Need a Train it Never Comes,” because, as Shires told the crowd, you always have to play a train song.
At the end the day, Alison Krauss & Union Station performed alongside Grammy Award-winning guitarist Jerry Douglas, performing slide guitar on a Dobro resonator. They played favorites such as “Dust Bowl Children” and “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn,” mixing in banjo and giving guitarist Dan Tyminski a chance to show his vocal abilities.
After ending their set 15 minutes early on “Man of Constant Sorrow,” the band members came back out for a stripped-down encore huddled around a single microphone. Krauss began with her classic “When You Say Nothing At All.” She followed it with “Whiskey Lullaby,” her collaboration with Brad Paisley. The band ended its encore with a seamless transition from “Down to the River to Pray” to “Your Long Journey,” a song off of Krauss’ Grammy Award-winning album with Robert Plant.
New Orleans’ brass-rock band Bonerama played to a local crowd with songs such as “Mr. Okra” and “Indian Red.” Hits like “Look Out Lonely” were crowd-pleasers, as were a number of Led Zeppelin covers.
Pianist Marco Benevento joined the band, as did two band members’ children: Michael Mullins on the trombone and Ben Perrine on the guitar. The crowd went wild for Perrine, son of sousaphone player and bassist Matt Perrine, during his guitar solo as he rocked sunglasses and a Led Zeppelin shirt.