Monday, April 28, 2008

Drowned at Jazzfest

The heavens opened over Jazzfest on Saturday causing several inches of ground water in many places and shortening the day by half an hour. It was a good day to be in the Blues Tent and that's where I stayed for most of the time. I arrived in time for sax legend Big Jay McNeely who didn't disappoint, honking his way around the front row of the crowd as well as on stage. I ventured out for a quick look at Eddie Bo but retreated to the tent as the rain grew ever heavier to watch the James Cotton Band. Harmonica blues can get a little tedious but Cotton is a master of the art. The day ended with the Ponderosa Stomp Revue, as Dr Ike introduced some of the stars of this year's and past shows, including the excellent Dennis Binder, Tammi Lynn, the manic Roy Head, who lay on his back, flipped his mike and played with his crotch through an enthusiastic set, and finally Archie Bell, who was restricted to just his Tighten Up classic as the fest shut down. On the way out I got soaked to the skin and was happy to get on a shuttle bus - any shuttle bus!
In the evening we went to see Irma Thomas at the Generations Hall. Irma was in great voice but played to a very thin crowd. Apparently there had been very little publicity for the show. After a drive around the city with the Aussie DJs in search of more live music we ended at the Mother In Law Lounge, which remains a shrine to the memory of Ernie K-Doe.
Sunday was another dodgy looking day weather-wise and sure enough the heavens opened again, catching me out in the open and soaking me once more. In the Blues Tent there was an act from Mali - Marmora Diabete I think he was called - who was followed by Roy Young, a soul man who was born in Jamaica, lived in England and now lives in Israel. After a shaky start he came good with a great song called Going Shoppin' (possibly named for my girlfriend!) and a soulful version of Everybody Hurts. He was backed by a Memphis band anfd Willie Mitchell's son was at the side of the stage. At last the rain relented and we went along to see the wonderful Al Green on the Congo Square stage. He was in great form, bounding around the stage looking dapper in a dark suit and silver waistcoat, throwing red roses to the audience and running through many of his Hi hits.
The evening was a bit of a disappointment. We went to the House of Blues to see Etta James and the place was packed, with some of the best areas cordoned off for Dan Ackroyd and his cronies. A new, slim-line Etta proved she was still in fine form, but her choice of material was dissappointing - she did a Kiki Dee cover for God's sake! - and there was a lot of inaudible patter between songs. Despite support from Dr John on one number there was a feeling that she was going through the motions to some extent.


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