Photo by Photo by Donn Young Photo by Donn Young Photo by Scott Saltzman Photo by Scott Saltzman Photo by Scott Saltzman Photo by Scott Saltzman 11:31 a.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage Liquidrone starts Jazz Fest on a surreal note. At a table that's perched in front of the stage, three dancers smoke, drink and look like the sort of clowns and harlots who'd plot to take over the circus in an old B-movie. One approaches a mic and squeezes a rhythm part on a rubber duck to open 'I've Got a Harley and a Mail-Order Bride.'
12:45 p.m., Acura Stage In the first of many family moments to come, Susan Cowsill's daughter Miranda joins mom onstage at the Sprint/Sanyo Stage to lead a small kids' chorus, adding an 'All You Need is Love' chant to 'I Know You Know.'
2:01 p.m., Economy Hall Tent The New Bumpers Dixieland Band rips it up with guest Jacques Gautier playing sparkling clarinet solos. 'You know Jacques has lived here in New Orleans for 30 years,' says the band's sultry vocalist 'Lo-Jo' Laurence. 'But he is still French at heart.' The band launches into an ethereal reading of 'Up the Lazy River.' The battered chestnut is stripped free of cliche in this guileless performance, a beautiful gem of small-band swing, the two clarinets, saxophone and trombone playing a languid arrangement with deep, contrasting colors more reminiscent of Artie Shaw's Gramercy Seven than Jelly Roll Morton.
2:39 p.m., Acura Stage The New Orleans All-Star Musical Tribute at the Acura Stage delivers everything but pizza in one of the best sets of the day. 'This is how we do it in New Orleans,' says Herman Ernest from behind the drums. 'We just made a couple of phone calls and didn't even rehearse.' Leo Nocentelli takes the stage, promising to kick butt with the Meters Saturday. Then he proceeds to do just that, sustaining a nine-chorus glissando guitar solo far over the top of what he'll be allowed to get away with in the Meters set.
3:15 p.m., beside the Sprint/Sanyo Stage In an interview with MTV News before going onstage, Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth extols the virtues of crawfish Monica with a joke that will never make it to the air (or to the pages of Gambit Weekly).
3:52 p.m., Economy Hall Tent Tim Laughlin finishes off his set with the exotic melody of 'Isle of Orleans,' his opulent tribute to his native city. Tom McDermott lays out a Brazilian-inspired piano chorus as a gray-haired grandma in a lavender silk suit shimmies near the stage underneath a tiny, white-lace parasol trimmed with scarlet ribbons. Laughlin launches a gorgeous clarinet solo as the grandma, her daughter and tousle-haired granddaughter do a jaunty hoochie koo.
4 p.m., Acura Stage Most Photographed Photographer: A suntanned and tank-topped Kate Hudson appears in the pit to take pictures of her husband Chris Robinson's band the Black Crowes.
6 p.m., Acura Stage If you still associate Steve Winwood with his '80s beer commercial soundtracks, you've missed his latest comeback, fueled by Traffic oldies, similarly styled new numbers, and the mighty B-3 organ. 'Dear Mr. Fantasy' and 'Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys' are fine as expected, but the real payoff is a great Traffic obscurity, 'Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring.'
6:02 p.m., Jazz & Heritage Stage As if leading an impromptu jazz funeral, trumpeter James Andrews changes the words to Professor Longhair's 'Go To the Mardi Gras' to honor club owner 'Papa Joe' Glasper, who died just that morning in Orleans Parish Prison. As the crowd sings along, Andrews repeats the refrain, 'Papa Joe, he ain't livin' no more.'
6:43 p.m., Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage Bruce Daigrepont and his band play to an audience of Cajun dancers. 'The crowd is a little thin,' says Daigrepont, 'so we can see everybody here, and I see some old friends. I see Henry, my old mailman out there, so this one goes out to Henry, my old mailman from 20 years ago.'
6:45 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage Just as on its most recent recording A Ghost Is Born, Wilco's live version of 'Spiders (Kidsmoke)' is an exercise in sustained tension, with bassist John Stirratt and drummer Glenn Kotche locking into a pulse more than a groove. It is so hypnotic that when that pulse finally breaks for a bouncy series of chords that serve as a chorus, the crowd erupts as if Jeff Tweedy announces the beer is free. 12:20 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage A sign of things to come. Brian Stoltz has only been onstage for 15 minutes and the crowd awaiting the Meters -- T minus five hours, 10 minutes and counting -- is already loosely packed all the way back to the rear set of speakers.
12:35 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage Two college-age young men are putting together a flagpole topped with a Confederate flag. They're working on strapping it to one of the track's posts for support when another festgoer points out that she considers the flag a racist symbol. An um constructive dialogue ensue that ends with the flagpole disassembled and the flag taken down.
12:47 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage Nothing inspires rock songwriting better than rage against authority, and playing songs from his new God, Guns & Money, Brian Stoltz is one seriously pissed red stater. 'We're drowning deep in lies,' sings Stoltz in a voice reminiscent of the ominous tone Bob Dylan adopted in Love and Theft, 'to keep an illusion alive.'
1:30 p.m., Louisiana Live Lagniappe Stage Beatin Path on the Lagniappe Stage reminds you how much fun straight-up country rock could be before someone added a dose of angst and called it alt-country. Skeet Hanks and Mike Mayeux have the easy, offhanded chemistry between songs that bands would kill for, and 'Moving to the Country' has the dark humor and memorable chorus of classic Kinks. Another family moment: Mayeux's youngest daughter spends much of the set around daddy's feet, not so much dancing as waiting for him to pick her up.
3:05 p.m., Popeyes Blues Tent Who or what is Bobby Lounge? The wildness of his metaphors and cover art suggests he's a musical primitive, but his boogie-woogie piano in the Jerry Lee Lewis mode and way with a tall tale give him away as crafty and smart. In the Blues Tent, the ode to his hometown, 'Take Me Back to Abita Springs' begins: 'He was a Louisiana regional phenomenon / women called him Tipi but his name was John / Packed up all the junk he strewed out in his yard / he said I'm going West to become a movie star / Reduced to singing backup with Siamese twins / he cried out, 'Take me back to Abita Springs.''
4 p.m., Acura Stage After doing his classic 'The Monkey Speaks His Mind' with a stuffed monkey in his arms, Dave Bartholomew does 'My Ding-a-Ling' -- yes, the risque sing-along later lifted by Chuck Berry -- as something close to gospel.
4:30 p.m., the Grandstand Man at bar in the Mayor's Hospitality Suite: 'How many people do you suppose are here today?' Lady next to him: 'I don't know. Thousands.'
6:17 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage Finally, the Meters Reunion. The legions of Meters fans watch the band like Kremlinologists observed the Soviet Politburo in the 1970s and '80s. They trade rumors about which band member said what to whom, who is working with whom, whether Leo will taking too many solos, if Art will say something sarcastic, and if George and Zig will lock in. The performance will be analyzed until the next Jazz Fest, but it is a great moment to hear the band of grown men growling like a dragon during, 'He Bite Me.' As Art says, 'We're still black, and we're still funky.' 11:53 a.m., Economy Hall Tent Hot Club of New Orleans plays Duke Ellington's 'Azalea,' and David Mooney's slightly fragile voice makes the line, 'With you who could be a failure?' sound heartfelt, and not just like a clever rhyme with the song's title. Marveling at how beautiful the day is, clarinet player Christopher Kohl goes so far as to observe, 'The barometric pressure is perfect.'
12:50 p.m., BellSouth/WWOZ Jazz Tent Leigh Harris brings the Woodstock era to mind by radically rearranging two psychedelic touchstones. After turning Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock' into a jazz ballad, she brings on the Bonerama Horns for a psychedelicized 'I Am the Walrus.'
1:17 p.m., Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage Since Carl Wilson's death in 1998, Al Jardine has toured, performing Beach Boys material as the Endless Summer Band while Mike Love and Bruce Johnston have performed much of the same material as the Beach Boys. In Harry Shearer's interview with Brian Wilson, Shearer says that when he saw Wilson perform Beach Boys material, it was like seeing the songs being rescued from 'casino hell.' Wilson eagerly agrees -- 'That's a very good way to put it' -- leaving the audience to wonder if his cheerful agreement was a dig at the Love-Johnston Beach Boys, who are scheduled to play a late-May show in Bay St. Louis, Miss.
2:30 p.m., Acura Stage The weather reports keep coming. G. Love announces during his set on the Acura Stage, 'It's snowing in Detroit today; that's no joke.'
2:30 p.m., the Jazz Fest Live CD Tent It's a madhouse as youngsters snap up first weekend shows and put in reservations to buy copies of performances that haven't even taken place yet. 'I got Meters!' shouts one excited guy to his buddy, holding up the $24 recording of yesterday's closing set. 'Two discs!' Soon after, the line would be 15 minutes long to order Meters discs.
2:50 p.m., Kids Tent Setting out to prove you can't get too much of a good song, singing cowboy Roy Roget (actually, local crooner Phil Melancon) launches into 'Home on the Range' -- all 18 verses.
4:30 p.m., in line for a shrimp po-boy Talking into his cell phone, one blissful new convert to 'sacred steel' attempts to describe the Campbell Brothers' earlier set in the Popeyes Blues Tent: 'It was like going to Six Flags and being stuck on the Batman ride for two and a half hours!'
5:05 p.m., Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage Among the many highlights of the Swamp Pop Summit is the rare appearance of Phil Phillips, who performs his classic 'Sea of Love' in an undiminished operatic voice. He follows with 'Juella,' (the flip side of 'Sea of Love') and then, at ringleader C.C. Adcock's urging, sings 'Sea of Love' yet again. Phillips prepares to leave the stage, having exhausted his repertoire -- until he's beckoned to join in a group performance of the swamp pop classic 'Mathilda.' Throughout the song, fellow pioneer Tommy McLain recites the lyrics into Phillips' ear and Phillips never misses a beat.
6:25 p.m., Acura Stage If there was any doubt about how Brian Wilson would perform at Jazz Fest, his cheerful salute during 'Sloop John B.' shows he isn't just going to get through the songs -- he is going to perform them. 11:30 a.m., Zatarain's Food Heritage Stage 'We have to eat the cala to save the cala,' shouts Poppy Tooker as she drops into hot oil mounds of batter made from flour, sugar, eggs, yeast and leftover rice. African-American vendors in the French Quarter once sold the sweet dish, which is 'just like the beignet, only better' according to Tooker. By the time of World War II, the cala had largely disappeared. Tooker's sermon encourages everyone in the audience to eat more calas, Creole beef daube glace and Creole cream cheese. If Tucker can make the cala as popular as the beignet, the Count will write a letter to Rome requesting her canonization.
12:30 p.m., near the flagpole From the files of 'we haven't seen it before, so it must be a Jazz Fest first' -- a festgoer scooting around the infield on a Segway 'personal human transport device.'
1:24 p.m., Acura Stage Donavon Frankenreiter needs to work on his stage patter. He announces, 'This song is about being free,' then sings a song with a one-word chorus: 'Free.' He introduces the next song, saying, 'This next song is about staying young and having fun. It's called, 'Stay Young.' At least he's on the right side of the key issues.
3:25 p.m., Louisiana Live Lagniappe Stage Drums & Tuba start a piece that brings Led Zeppelin's exotic side to mind. Once tuba player Brian Wolff makes loops of the band's parts and processes them, the sound grows in texture and complexity until moments later, you can't remember what made you think of Led Zep in the first place. Overheard during the set: 'That's a very common thing in New Orleans. Tubas rock.'
5:01 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown is giving it all he's got like the icon he is. Due to his failing health, every word and note take on additional meaning, so a blues lyric about regret over a lost love -- 'I wrote her a letter/about how I wish our lives had been better' -- is particularly poignant.
6:03 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage B.B. King is doing a lot of storytelling in his set, musing about his own dwindling days with his characteristic humor. 'I'm a diabetic now,' he says in an introduction. 'I got bad knees, bad back, and my head's not too good.' At each pause, the drummer gives a rim shot until King finally turns and says, 'I'm from Mississippi and I will cut drummers.' Later, he introduces his medical team: 'Dr. Viagra and Nurse Cialis.' 11:56 a.m., Louisiana Live Lagniappe Stage Michael Skinkus and Moyuba are doing sacred Afro-Cuban religious chants with three hand drummers, three horns and the beautiful voices of ZION Trinity. They're finishing up the set with a suite dedicated to a Haitian spirit associated with tornados. As three percussionists smile and lock in, a small dust devil picks up and swirls around in the walkway.
12:15 p.m., Acura Stage Ivan Neville's funk is as extreme in its own way as George Clinton's is, with two basses and no treble instrument except Mark Mullins' trombone and Neville's own right hand on the organ. On the hyperactive 'Time Heals,' Dumpstaphunk not only moves the crowd's asses but Neville's own, as he bounces excitedly on his bench behind the B-3.
12:50 p.m., Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage During a discussion of James Booker, panelists Earl Palmer, filmmaker Michael Murphy and Art Neville talk guardedly about anything but their admiration for Booker. Finally, Neville says simply, 'There's a lot you can't say about Booker.'
12:55 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage Evoking the spirit of the late Rodney Dangerfield, Frankie Ford peppers more than a few one-liners into his stage show, including this one about his tight brown leather pants: 'They're like a cheap hotel -- no ballroom!'
2:45 p.m., Kids Tent Mr. Davis Rogan's Rhythm and Blues Choir features children singing classics such as Louis Armstrong's 'What a Wonderful World.' They do a version of Smiley Lewis' 'Blue Monday' that makes the audience realize that kids, too, can relate to Lewis' tale of early week lethargy.
3:30 p.m., Louisiana Live Lagniappe Stage Jim McCormick joined the likes of Dave Dudley and Red Simpson when he wrote 'Dooly Man' about Dooly trucks. He gets bonus points for making the truck song modern -- 'You can keep your minivan,' he sings -- and for making it rock. With two acoustic guitars, electric guitar, bass drums and guests John Gros on organ and Gina Forsyth on fiddle, the sound is rich and rocking, a kind of outlaw country redux with McCormick delivering each line like a young Waylon Jennings.
4:32 p.m., Acura Stage Widespread Panic further cements its connections to New Orleans music by opening its two-and-a-half-hour set with Ivan Neville joining the band on clavinet for 'Fishwater,' a song praising the city's appetite for greens, beans and excess. The homage continues with Galactic saxophonist Ben Ellman jumping aboard for a cover of Dr. John's 'Walk on Gilded Splinters,' and later a quirky, fun cover of the Talking Heads' 'Swamp.'
5:25 p.m., Louisiana Live Lagniappe Stage Cultures collide as Saaraba mixes African juju verses with funk choruses, complete with DJ Scratchmo soloing on the turntables over the juju section.
5:35 p.m., Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage Cajun musician Milton Conner attempts what he calls 'The 10 Time Waltz.' He explains that his uncle, fiddler Varise Conner, never named the piece. Milton gave the song its name because it took him 10 tries to play it properly. 'I hope we don't have to rename it 'The 11 Time Waltz' after tonight,' he says. 7:30 a.m., somewhere in the Jazz Fest offices Somebody has a Maalox moment when Orleans Parish is put under a tornado watch until noon.
10:30 a.m., on the radio With rain pounding outside, testy WWOZ-FM DJs tell listeners to stop calling to ask if Jazz Fest is cancelled. 'It's open, it's open, it's open, its open,' one raspy-voiced DJ says. Then later the same DJ: 'Get off it!'
12:30 p.m., at the Food I row Food I is a lagoon.
1 p.m., Acura Stage Theresa Andersson sings, 'Everything's Going to be Okay' and sure enough, the clouds start to break up. When she gets to the line, 'The sun is going to shine again,' she points to the left and the sun tries, not quite shining through, but brightening up the Acura Stage enough to earn cheers.
1:05 p.m., BellSouth/WWOZ Jazz Tent The Improvisational Arts Quartet is finishing its set with Kidd Jordan in a furious musical conversation with pianist Joel Futterman. When that runs its course, Jordan and drummer Alvin Fielder start a second, more moderate conversation. As their interchange grows more passionate, the piano and bass join until the band sounds like one instrument. It's sonically organized across the musical spectrum, but separating parts -- much less instruments -- becomes not only impossible but wrong.
1:29 p.m., Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage When you see women having a beer on the back of the stage and a row of beer cans on the drum riser, you think rock 'n' roll at its most cliché. With Cajun musician Belton Richard & the Musical Aces, it seems more like a blurring of the line between the stage and the musicians' lives off of it. The women are the wives, not groupies, and when pedal steel player Rodney Miller's wife has something to say, she steps up and leans in his ear mid-set.
1:55 p.m., back at Food I A bridge made of palettes is little help. Now the Fair Grounds staff has a crew out with a pump to get rid of the water.
2:15 p.m., Louisiana Live Lagniappe Stage The sun breaks through to such a degree that shadows are cast. Unfortunately, Washboard Chaz Blues Trio isn't playing anything lyrically predictive.
3 p.m., Congo Square Stage The Dirty Dozen Brass Band riffs through the jailhouse ditty 'Junco Partner.' Special guest Glen David Andrews bounces all over the stage, singing the song's litany of booze and drug vices with a passion approaching rage.
3:17 p.m., Jazz & Heritage Stage The Soul Rebels' Rebelution employed DJs and rappers successfully, and here they make the hip-hop and contemporary R&B elements sound like an organic extension of brass's street origins. When two stage dancers make dramatic leaps into the crowd, an electric slide breaks out.
4:05 p.m., BellSouth/WWOZ Jazz Tent Roy Haynes' physical condition at 80 defies all known laws of biology and stands as a shining testament to the real power of music. It's not merely that Haynes 'looks good for his age' or 'plays well for an older guy.' You just don't see 80-year-old men who move and speak -- not to mention play the drums -- with such strength, clarity and swagger.
5:35 p.m., Jazz & Heritage Stage After three decades of working behind the scenes, it doesn't take much coaxing for Nancy Ochsenschlager -- the day before she officially retires from her post as associate producer -- to take the stage to do a little second lining with members of the original Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
5:55 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage '50 years ago the monkey spoke his mind, with the help of Dave Bartholomew,' Elvis Costello tells the crowd. 'But did they listen? But did they listen?' This time he gets the resounding chorus of 'No!' he is looking for. 'This afternoon, through me, the monkey will speak again!' Many monkey references ensue, including Bartholomew's classic and 'Monkey to Man' from Costello's recent The Delivery Man.
6:35 p.m. Popeyes Blues Tent In a beaded lavender suit, Ike Turner whips up a frenzy of snarling guitar solos and barrelhouse boogie -- particularly on his classic early rock 'n' roll tune 'Rocket 88.' But if he wants people to appreciate his musical contributions and stop focusing on the more sordid details of his past, then it's probably not such a good idea to bring out a female vocalist who bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain ex-wife. Worse are the obnoxious audience members shouting 'Tina 2!' as the singer, Audrey Madison, does her first song with the band. Tacky, tacky, tacky. Fortunately, much of the set showcases Ike Turner's still-impressive chops and reckless note-bending.
11:30 a.m., Popeyes Blues Tent Another political note sounds. Spencer Bohren says from the stage in the Blues Tent, 'There are so many photographers up here, I feel like the president. But I'll never lie to you.'
12:30 p.m., Sprint/Sanyo Stage Terence Higgins & Swampgrease kick it old school; not only does keyboard player Andy Bourgeois play a variety of squiggly, not-found-in-nature sounds recalling the early days of synthesizers, but Reynard Poche sings 'Doin' It' through a vocoder.
1:30 p.m., overhead A plane flies with the banner, 'JoJo will you marry me.' JoJo's reply has yet to fly.
1:33 p.m., Popeyes Blues Tent Kids return, this time to the Blues Tent, where Eddie Bo has a young toddler onstage. He dances with her, then she sits down at the piano and pretends to play. The cute-o-meter explodes.
2:22 p.m., Congo Square Stage Michael Franti and Spearhead work the Congo Square crowd with agitprop political slogans set to punky reggae beat: 'Legalize It!' 'Never make a deal with the devil!' 'Revolution come soon!' The crowd loves it as if it were Marley himself. In a set that borrows from sources as diverse as the Doobie Brothers and Jackson 5, Franti wraps it up by dedicating his 'Cleanup Man' to 'the man who stays out here 'til 4, 5, 6 in the morning, cleaning up after us.' The crowd -- many of whom are dancing in ankle-deep mud and could use a little cleaning up themselves -- give appropriate props to the yellow-shirted members of the Jazz Fest maintenance crew.
4:03 p.m., Popeyes Blues Tent As fellow singer Maria Muldaur says, this is a perfect match: Marcia Ball singing Sister Rosetta Tharp's 'I Want A Tall, Skinny Papa.' As a special treat, festival producer George Wein sits in on piano.
5:05 p.m., Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage Even though he's most recently been getting props for his songwriting, David Egan joins the Maggie Warwick & the Louisiana Hayride Band to show what he can do with an oldie -- his piano-pumping version of Johnny Horton's 'Battle of New Orleans' pushes new life into the over-familiar tune. On guitar is Kenny Bill Stinson, who applies the same treatment to 'That's Alright Mama.'
5:50 p.m., BellSouth/WWOZ Jazz Tent You almost feel sorry for a horn player sharing the stage with saxophonist James Carter. At the John Coltrane Tribute, Terence Blanchard and Coltrane's son Ravi receive polite applause after their first solos. When Carter finishes his turn, half the audience jumps to their feet and starts cheering. Dressed in an elegant ivory suit, Carter blows a breathless solo that ratchets up the energy level for the rest of set. The young saxophonist is an odd guest for a Coltrane tribute, because his crowd-pleasing style draws more on the spirit of the pre-bebop era than on the searching, introspective jazz pioneered by Coltrane.
6:45 p.m., exiting the Fair Grounds Jazz Festers departing for shuttle buses heard the distinctive baritone voice of New Orleans radio icon Larry McKinley issuing directions from a tape recorder in an ice chest that's chained to a fence: 'Jazz Fest Express buses straight ahead. Thank you for attending the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival!'
7:05 p.m. Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage Fired up after Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas' set-closing 'Zydeco Boogaloo' and 'Johnny Can't Dance,' the zydeco crowd clamors for more. The band clearly wants to oblige, but is prevented from doing another encore by an announcement that the Fest is over for another year. More than a few fans grumble that they can still hear other acts playing. 7:20 p.m. The festival's theoretically over, but Isaac Hayes was late starting, so he's not ready to quit. He's also not in a hurry, playing a nine-minute version of "I Stand Accused," complete with an introduction in which he promises the woman he loves he'll give her a milk bath but towel her off before her extremities prune, and that he'll give her a variety of massages including foot reflexology. After that, with a stage manager frantically signaling him to end the show, he signals the drummer to start the signature hi-hat opening to "Theme From Shaft." The assembled masses, many of whom have drifted over from other finished stages, join the backing singers in answering "Shaft" to all Hayes' questions, and telling him, right on cue, to shut his mouth.
- Donn Young
- Michael Franti and Spearhead revolutionized the Congo Square crowd.
- Donn Young
- Brass bands and social aid and pleasure clubs snaked through the Fair Grounds and found a home on the new Jazz & Heritage Stage.
- Scott Saltzman
- Zap Mama enchanted at Congo Square -- and, at one point in the set, did cartwheels.
- Scott Saltzman
- Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown's set added a poignant counterpoint to Gate's typically ornery blues.
- Scott Saltzman
- Brian Wilson was all smiles as he and his band rejuvenated Beach Boys hits.