Rains dampen Jazz Fest on Saturday


Midnite Disturbers perform on the Jazz & Heritage Stage.
  • Midnite Disturbers perform on the Jazz & Heritage Stage.
Thunder and heavy rains caused Jazz Fest to close at roughly 5 p.m. Saturday, canceling sets by headliners including Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg and Beck. The festival announced that tickets used for entry Saturday, April 30, will be honored for entry today. Details are here. The festival also announced that Jazz Fest shuttle will operate from downtown pickup locations only.

Crowds braved light rain for a host of performers before thundershowers set in. At the Jazz & Heritage Stage, the annual Midnite Disturbers set was true to form, with more than 10 horn players backed by drummers Stanton Moore and Kevin O'Day. The supergroup of Galactic members and brass band players included saxophonist Ben Ellman, trombonist Big Sam Williams, trumpeter Shamarr Allen, saxophonist Skerik, trombonist Corey Henry, tuba player Edward Lee and others. The group turned songs like Henry's "Buck It Like a Horse" into extended romps, which at times soared with group playing, got loose during trombone duels between Henry and Williams and on tuba solos, and had interludes with Allen exhorting the large crowd to step up its dancing. "We're not going to Buck it all by ourselves," Allen said.

On the Congo Square Stage, Big Freedia wore sparking purple pants and a jacket bearing Prince's nameless symbol on back. Several of hIs dancers also wore purple and the set veered into and out of Prince salutes, sometimes playing snippets from songs such as "I Would Die 4 U." When rain started, Freedia lead the crowd in singing "Purple Rain." But much of the rest of the set featured signature Freedia tunes and gratuitous twerking, on songs like "Azz Everywhere."

Once thunder showers started, the Economy Hall Tent was a good place to avoid the squalls and listen to jazz favorites. Jamil Sharif lead his band though standards including "St. James Infirmary Blues," "Caledonia" and "Bourbon Street Parade," for which many in the crowd broke out their umbrellas to second-line with Sharif in front of the stage. 

Also in the traditional jazz tent, Kermit Ruffins offered a tribute to Louis Armstrong. The set featured songs including "When It's Sleepy time Down South," "Oh Marie," Ain't Misbehaving'" and "Pennies from Heaven," though the festival announced its closing before the set ended.

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