April 30, 2006
Let's get some complaints out the way first. $40? $40?! For people that lost everything and are still trying to get back on their feet? A $40 ticket price just makes the Jazzfest more exclusive than it's ever been. The younger set sure has a more difficult time procuring that cash than the older generation does.
If Jazzfest was really about local heritage, it wouldn't spend so much money to secure acts like Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, and Dylan. Without the worry of booking national acts, Jazzfest would be able to spend less money booking local acts and therefore be able to charge something much less than $40. But, in order to get the tourists, you've gotta have big names. Screw that. Local music and the experience of New Orleans should be enough of a motivator for someone in Dinkytown, ND.
On to the music at Jazzfest Sunday. When I approached the Acura Stage to get a spot for Sonny Landreth at 1:45, I was surprised the walkway wasn't already gridlock in preparation for Springsteen. But, I'm sure a lot of people purposefully stayed away from that stage, thinking it would be too crowded. As a whole, the Jazzfest seemed to be more crowded on Sunday than Friday.
Sonny Landreth always impresses with his slide guitar skills. His sound is a metal blade of sunshine. Especially on "Port of Calling," the instrumental calling card that began his set. Landreth, who has worked with Clifton Chenier, Allen Toussaint, and John Hiatt, plays blues songs that have a down-home, rock feel. And something else--he's prog. I never noticed how meandering and complex some of his songs are.
Next was Big Sam's Funky Nation(someone said he needs to re-open The Funky Butt), but I didn't stick around for long. He was playing a funk cover. I wanted to hear his stuff.
I headed over to Walter "Wolfman" Washington and The Roadmasters. Washington's band, especially the trio, was capable to begin with, but they're so much better when they're bigger. Along with the usual bassist and drummer, Washington was joined by a percussionist and a three-piece horn section. Fleshed out full exuberant, depressed beauty, man, and Washington was growling and shouting and crying(not tears) up there. Passion in spades. People were partying and dancing and loving at the Congo Square stage. This felt right. Blues, funk, and R&B!
Afterwards, I found the Crawfish Monica. It's on your right as you're travelling from the Acura stage to Congo Square. It wasn't enough, so I got a crabcake. It was $4, but it was a damn good crabcake.
Last but not least was Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello. I knew they were gonna be previewing material from their recent collaboration, but I was still hoping for some Costello solo stuff--didn't happen. Costello was a second-hand player in this concert. He would disappear for a while and then come back when he was needed. The music was pretty decent. Straight R&B. It was actually probably better than decent, but I had such high expectations. The songs were good, but the set as a whole didn't blow me away. There wasn't a song that moved me a lot.
It was funny to watch Costello try and step into a New Orleans, down-home, funky persona. Maybe it just rubs off on you if you're singing with Allen Toussaint. Am I remembering correctly? Did Elvis Costello really say, "Yeah, you right"? Wacky.
The set started with a medley of Toussaint's most famous songs, and then Costello came onstage for performances of their collaborations. When Costello was the lead singer, the song was decidedly more moody and low-down. Toussaint is bouncier.