April 29, 2007
BY JASON SONGE
Unfortunately I didn't get to Jazzfest until 2 this day, but I still got a lot in, considering. I started out at the Jazz Tent with legendary jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith. He seemed a little too funky to be in the jazz tent, but then again, his music was a bit difficult. So, then it maybe makes sense. Are you busy? Well, then maybe you'd enjoy the Jazz Tent. Accessible and crowd pleasing? Maybe the Gentilly Stage is right for you. Why was Smith wearing a turban? Good question.
Then, I saw one song of Bobby Lounge. His spiritual advisor took about ten minutes to introduce him, but it was worth it. He was pretty funny, and I love it when any performer isn't afraid to stick it to the yankees.
Next was Jerry Lee Lewis at the Acura Stage. I had never seen Lewis before, the reason being that it costs and arm and a leg when he shows up at the HOB.
Lee seemed frail as he took to his piano, but once he reached it, his fingers went to work like he was young again. I saw the same happen to Max Roach and Elvin Jones when they played in 2002, I believe. Once they got on their thrones, they came alive.
Lewis' band was his saving grace. His voice wasn't in top form, so he needed something solid throughout. His band provided that and more. They provided the springboard from which Lewis was able to become the legend everyone wanted to see. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that Lewis still delivered his naughty lyrics with sexual vigor. Dirty, dirty old man.
Lew is played the hits--"Whole Lotta Shakin'," "Great Balls of Fire," "Roll Over Beethoven," and "Chantilly Lace," among others that I can't remember right now. It made sense that at Lewis' age, he didn't play rocker after rocker. There were stretches reserved for ballads and low tempo country songs.
I love that Lewis renewed my faith in music. I was open for something great to happen on that field, and it did. There was a point in one of the songs where he jumped two keys by two keys with one finger to the right of the keyboard before he landed with all fingers on a chord that he pounded into oblivion. Even before he hit the crowd pleasingly repetitive chord, I felt something great was happening. Like as if all you were getting was static, and then all of a sudden you heard the message. Lewis' progression of notes made something beautiful open up in me, and judging from the screaming crowd, they felt it too. What a wonderful moment.
I finished off the day by treating myself to Bingo! at the Lagniappe stage. I've never seen the band have so much fun. They were cracking jokes and being silly, but when they wanted to break your heart, they could do it. There's one particular ballad where Clint Maedgen's voice gets high--it's such a bastard. I swear to God, Clint--if you make me cry in front of all these people! Not cool, man! These were my people. This was my band. This was a New Orleans celebration.