Dr. John, Ivan Neville, and Houseman Help Open New Orleans 38th JazzFest
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival celebrated its 38th season this weekend with an eclectic lineup which included such varied acts as Lucinda Williams, Rod Stewart, Norah Jones, Soulive, Van Morrison, T. Bone Burnett, James Carter, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Gillian Welch. Rebounding after a difficult 2006, which saw a streamlined version of the multi-stage festival, JazzFest added two additional stages this spring and stacked its lineup with a number of national headliners. Of course, the festival showed off its local flavor too, awarding choice spots to Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, the Rebirth Brass Band and Dr. John. The latter performer popped up at several points throughout the weekend, playing piano with New Orleans Social Club, jamming with Van Morrison, helping vocalist Parker James through ‘Walking to New Orleans,’ and playing with an all-star combo which included slide guitarist Sonny Landreth and organist David Egan.
Bonnie Raitt acknowledged her surroundings on several occasions, opening her set with God Was in the Water and later bringing out both Irma Thomas and Ivan Neville for a series of Mardi Gras standards. Similarly, Norah Jones closed her set with a cover of Tom Waits Long Way Home and inviting out local hero Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ for ‘Sinkin’ Soon.
Several intriguing collaborations took place outside the fairgrounds boundaries as well. Former Galactic vocalist Theryl ‘Houseman’ DeClouet performed for only the second time since relocating to Chicago following Katrina, sitting in with sousaphonist Kirk Joseph and his Backyard Groove at Congo Square. Then at 6 AM Sunday morning, Houseman appeared with his former bandmates for the first time in several years, lending his pipes to a version of Something’s Wrong With this Picture.’ Galactics show also included appearances by Ivan Neville and Sister Teedy, among others.
Neville may have been the weekends most active musician. In addition to playing with the New Orleans Social Club and gusting with both Raitt and Galactic, Neville led his band Dumpstaphunk through a set of part favorites at the Howlin Wolf Friday. On the same evening, he also jammed with Soulive on Do it Again at Tipitinias (new Soulive vocalist Toussaint also led the group for a potion of its set).
While performing at New Orleans One Eyed Jacks Friday, the North Mississippi Allstars invited out a number of extended family members, including drummer Cedric Burnside for Mean Old World, All Night Long, and Turn on Your Lovelight. For this portion of the groups set, Cody Dickinson moved to the front of the stage to demonstrate his guitar chops. Former Dirty Dozen Brass Band guitarist Jamie McLean later appeared on Everybody Needs Somebody, Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor, and If Yous A Viper, while his brother Carter played drums on Mud and Goin Home.
Seminal jambands Little Feat and the Radiators offered several shows apiece throughout New Orleans maze of clubs, before joining forces for a power jam at the Maple Leaf Bar last night. The groups will continue to collaborate throughout the week, with Little Faet guitarist Paul Barrere scheduled to perform with The Radiators at its Southport Hall SNAFU Party Friday.