Henry Butler and The Game Band

French Quarter Fest

April 18, 2004

Henry Butler was a great closer for The French Quarter Fest Sunday night. The keyboardist and his crack band got a very large crowd dancing at the Coors Light stage.

Butler was previewing songs off his new Homeland CD, which will be released right before Jazzfest. "OS7.0" was a wah-wah driven, romantic, soulful song that tore through the audience at a medium pace. "I Stand Accused" was a softer blues song that lamented a lover that was unreachable. This was a great slow dance song.

Butler's main talent was that he jumped from a blues to a funk to a soul to a '50's rock sound with no quality drop. There's also his playing ability and voice. His fingers moved along the keyboard with such grace and speed that I was left shouting or with my mouth agape. As evidence, Butler was nominated for the fourth year in a row for the W.C. Handy Awards best instrumentalist in the pianist category.

There was such soul and wisdom in his voice. Even when he went off on a spoken treatise on society that, for the music's sake, would have fit better in his diary, I still stood and listened in respect. He deserved it. He and Dr. John are our city's piano men. Accompanying Butler on guitar was Vasti Jackson, who dressed up in a brown suit and killed with solos.

Too hot in the hot tub. Rounding out the band was drummer Raymond Weber and bassist Nick Daniels III.

Butler knew how to put on a show. He wore flashy clothes, he rocked his knees and body to the music, and he encouraged handclapping by clapping in the air. He thanked the crowd after every song and was a joy to watch.

We love you, Henry.


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