New Orleans Hosts First Post-Katrina JazzFest
Over the weekend, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival returned to its Fair Grounds home almost eight months after Hurricane Katrina. While ticket sales remained modest (100,000 over three days), the weekend’s festivities evoked the memories of the past Big Easy celebrations, complete with jazz/funk, po’ boys and hazy, late-night sit-ins. While stadium rockers such as the Rolling Stones didn’t show, a number of high-profile artists performed heartfelt sets, including Bob Dylan, Ani DiFranco, the Meters and the team of Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint. Bruce Springsteen used JazzFest to debut his new Seeger Sessions Band, a 20-piece orchestra which closed its set with a cover of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ The Dave Matthews Band also made its first 2006 appearance, turning in an extended set which featured a guest appearance by U2’s The Edge on ‘Smooth Rider’ (from 2005’s Stand Up). Keeping busy, the Edge also joined the Rebirth Brass Band during its Fairgrounds performance on the Saturn stage and performed U2’s ‘Vertigo’ at Preservation Hall as part of the venue’s reopening celebration. Over the weekend, a number of other notable names performed at the heralded Preservation Hall, ‘the birthplace of jazz,’ including Stanton Moore, Papa Mali and Will Bernard.
New Orleans natives Galactic pulled double duty Saturday, turning in an afternoon set at the Fairgrounds and an evening performance at Tipitina’s Uptown. Similar to last year, percussionist Mike Dillon joined Galactic for its entire Fairgrounds show, which concluded with a version of ‘When the Levee Breaks.’ A number of guests later joined Galactic at Tipitina’s, including the Stooges and guitarist Brian Seeger, both of whom performed on ‘It Ain’t What You Think’ and ‘Blackbird Special’ near the end of the funk collective’s first set. The Stooges returned a set later on ‘Snowball’ and ‘Buckit Like a Horse,’ with Bernard playing keyboards on the latter number. Fittingly, Galactic closed out its performance with a version of ‘FEMA.’
The North Mississippi Allstars also used its Tipitina’s performance as a springboard for collaboration, with Shannon McNally performing on ‘You Gotta Move,’ veteran Big Easy trombonist Big Sam on ‘Horseshoe Lake’ and Stanton Moore on ‘Love Light.’ Stanton Moore’s busy weekend scheduled also included a performance on the Riverboat Cajun with John Medeski, Mike Dillon and Skerik (billed as Garage a Medeski) and Medeski and Will Bernard last night at d.b.a. While guest-free, Umphrey’s McGee’s Saturday performance at the Republic consisted of two almost set-long segues, capped off with an encore of ‘JaJunk.’