Benefit for Johnny Vidacovich

The Howlin' Wolf

March 28, 2008

BY JASON SONGE


This show was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I didn't realize it until I left. I guess I enjoyed it more because I'm a drummer, but who wouldn't appreciate Russell Batiste goin' at it with Stanton Moore?

So, before we go any further, here's what this thing was: a benefit for Johnny Vidacovich, who has been having trouble with his home and health problems that have made him turn down more gigs than he would like. Along with the door, money raised from an auction(signed snare drums and sticks and such) went straight to the Vidacovichs. The best drummers in New Orleans showed up to honor Vidacovich, including Batiste, Moore, Kevin O' Day, Arthur Mintz, and a brass band guy that showed up late in the game with only a snare and a cymbal.

The show opened with The Bally Who, who were followed by Batiste's group. Moore began the night of sittin in at this point, and how can I possibly describe this, them playing together? It was a rare thing to be enjoyed, not studied or processed. More absorbed, these two modern masters. Batiste's group got the crowd goin' with "People Say," for which George Porter Jr. joined in on vocals. From that point out, Batiste had the crowd in his palm, even after a while of his original material. Later in the set Vidacovich joined Moore and Batiste on drums(there were three sets onstage). Again, what else can I say about this effin' amazing thing?

After this point, it was rarer and rarer to see Vidacovich join in. It was cool to watch him study his proteges, leaning on an amp in the middle of the stage. For the next and last but long jam session, O' Day, Batiste, and Moore were joined by Steve Masakowski, Tony Dagradi, a second guitarist, Porter, and the snare player. Wow. Talk about an eargasm.

People were dancing like crazy, which is when I feel like I'm in New Orleans. When we let loose. Such a great night. So many great vibes. So much local pride. Can't wait for PBS during Jazzfest.


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