Bo Dollis Jr. leads the Wild Magnolias at the Jazz & Heritage Stage.
Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg and Meghan Trainor drew big crowds to Jazz Fest's largest stages for the final sets Saturday, but there were highlights across the festival's 13 stages.
The Blues Tent hosted a tribute to Buckwheat Zydeco, aka Stanley Dural, who died in September 2016. He was the first zydeco artist signed to a major record label, and he recorded and toured prolifically. The set was led by his son Sir Reginald Dural, who now leads his father's longtime band, Il Sont Partis, which features guitarist Lil Buck Sinegal, formerly a member of Clifton Chenier's band. The set also featured an all-star lineup of guest accordion players, including C.J. Chenier, Nathan Williams and Corey Ledet.
Dural led off with Buckwheat's classic song "What You Gonna Do," followed by Fats Domino's "Walking to New Orleans." Ledet led the band on "Changes" and "People's Choices." Dural was serious in tone and frequently thanked the audience for supporting his father and the band. The set got looser and a bit more upbeat when Williams came on to sing "Josephine Ce Pas Ma Femme" and "Lucille." Chenier quickened the tempo and lifted spirits further on Buckwheat's "Hard to Stop." The tribute reached its pinnacle in the finale, when all four accordionists came onstage to play an extended, jubilant version of Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya."
Henry Butler's Jambalaya Band also performed in the Blues Tent, and at times Butler took his keyboard playing on jazzy detours. But he crushed the piano parts on a dexterous romp through "Big Chief" to close the set.
On the Lagniappe Stage, the Batture Boys, aka former subdude Tommy Malone and Continental Drifter Ray Ganucheau, dipped into much bluesier tones. Malone teased the crowd, "If you live here, there's plenty to write about. ... Like a natural disaster." The duo then played "The Mighty Flood," a grim account of dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods. They also played "Muddy Water," also somber in tone, closed with a bluesy wail of a version of Bobby Womack's — popularized by The Rolling Stones — "It's All Over Now."
Closing the day at the Jazz & Heritage Stage was Bo Dollis Jr. and the Wild Magnolias. Dollis talked often about his father, legendary singer and big chief, Bo Dollis, who is depicted in a yellow feathered Mardi Gras Indian suit above the stage. Dollis wore a white suit (with the image of a Mardi Gras Indian painted on the back) and was flanked by several indians on each side, including Big Queen Rita Dollis, his mother, his kids, and spy boys from the Magnolias and other tribes.
Dollis' vocals are becoming ever more like his father's signature deep gravelly snarl. Early in the set, Dollis showed off his singing chops leading the band on a funky version of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," which after some solos, the band seamlessly segued into the Magnolia's classic hit, "Smoke My Peace Pipe." The group also played Magnolia tunes "Injuns, Here We Come," "We Come to Party" and "Handa Wanda." It closed with Professor Longhair's "Hey Now Baby."