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Published: 2014/04/28

Jazz Fest Day Three: Clapton Disappoints, Galactic, Irma Thomas, Astral Project Shine

Eric Clapton easily drew the biggest crowd of Jazz Fest’s first weekend with yesterday’s headlining set at the Acura Stage. The legendary guitarist and his band—Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar), Henry Spinetti (drums), Dave Bronze (bass), Chris Stainton (keys), Sharon White and Michelle John (backing vocals)—delivered a low-key, blues-heavy set that was surprisingly short on his classic original material. While the show did feature original staples like “Tell The Truth” and an acoustic “Layla,” as well as classic covers like Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” JJ Cale’s “Cocaine” and Jimmy Cox’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out,” much of the massive audience was left disappointed by the lack of energy, especially after the performance wrapped up ten minutes ahead of schedule. Inconsistent sound in the back of the field didn’t help either, often leaving Charlie Wilson’s nearby show on the Congo Square Stage more audible than the main attraction.

While Clapton’s performance ended up being something of an anti-climax, the day was not without its musical highlights. New Orleans jazz virtuosos Astral Project brought a fantastic set to the Jazz Tent early in the afternoon. The quartet—Johnny Vidacovich (drums), Steve Masakowski (guitar), James Singleton (bass) and Tony Degradi (saxophone)—reminded everyone why their progressive, genre-bending style has been welcome at the festival for over 35 years.

North Mississippi Allstars introduced the crowd to their “world boogie” on the Acura Stage early in the afternoon as well. The trio, who are now touring with Lightnin Malcolm on bass, were followed by New Orleans soul/gospel/R&B icon Irma Thomas. Thomas—as much a Jazz Fest veteran as anyone—was backed by a 10-piece band for her set, which featured a great take on her 1960 hit “You Can Have My Husband But Please (Don’t Mess With My Man),” in addition to crowd-pleasing renditions of “Iko Iko” and Allen Toussaint’s “It’s Raining.”

Galactic rounded up a sizable crowd of their own around mid-afternoon for a high-energy show on the Samsung Galaxy Stage (formerly known as the Gentilly Stage). The funk-jam powerhouse got an extra boost from the indefatigable Mike Dillon, who joined them on percussion for the duration of their set. The band was also helped by frequent collaborator Maggie Koerner, who sat in for “Heart of Steel” and the recently released “Dolla Diva.” The band was then followed by the stage’s headliners—indie stars Vampire Weekend. Other acts that competed with Clapton included Charlie Wilson and Rodriguez, with the latter backed by local musicians Alex McMurray (guitar), John Fohl (bass) and Russ Broussard (drums) in the Blues Tent.

After things came to a close at the Fairgrounds, the music moved elsewhere. Marco Benevento, Skerik, Robert Walter, DJ Logic and Adam Deitch teamed up for a “Worship My Organ” show over at the Blue Nile early in the night. The quintet was then followed by a trio consisting of Eric Krasno, Stanton Moore and Wil Blades. Krasno had just returned from the Fiyawrapper Superjam, which saw him join forces with Dominic Lalli, David Murphy, Fred Wesley, Ike Stubbliefield, Jen Hartswick and Nikki Glaspie for a funky riverboat ride down the Mississippi River. Blades, on the other hand, had just returned from a “Beyond Jazz” show with Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison and Mike Clark at the Little Gem Saloon.

Other late night parties included the Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and The London Souls at The House of Blues, as well as Tab Benoit, Sonny Landreth and Little Freddie King at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl. The Maple Leaf once again kept things going til sunrise, as Ivan Neville, Jon Cleary, Tony Hall, Raymond Weber and Big D Perkins’ “Maple Leaf Allstars” show was followed by a 3am performance by Deitch, Nigel Hall, Calvin Turner, Eric Benny Bloom and Ryan Zoidis.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will continue on Thursday with a headlining performance by The String Cheese Incident.


There are 25 comments associated with this post

peachhead April 28, 2014, 14:59:44

I wasnt at Clapton, but its amusing how the editors think Clapton disappointed and then thought phish crushed it with their usual festival snoozer set

randy floyd April 28, 2014, 15:08:00

i agree with peachhead. by all accounts (other than jambands), phish’s set sucked, and it is disappointing to see the article discuss the lack of “hits” as the main reason why clapton “disappoints”, rather than the poor sound and the low energy. i love this site, but these are the kinds of posts that lead to lower credibility

WHATDOUEXPECT April 28, 2014, 15:10:18

So lame Clapton, it’s 80+ and humid! U think he’s goanna rip it up! He prob needed an I.V. cause he was overheating!!! And phish suckn with no “bustouts” They should have done somethin swampy!!

Craig April 28, 2014, 15:17:32

“much of the massive audience was left disappointed by the lack of energy, especially after the performance wrapped up ten minutes ahead of schedule. Inconsistent sound in the back of the field didn’t help either, often leaving Charlie Wilson’s nearby show on the Congo Square Stage more audible than the main attraction.” Seems like they didn’t like the set for the right reasons. Lack of hits during a major festival headlining set is also a legit reason for disappointment. I agree with you guys about Phish though. Wasn’t a total shit show but certainly was FAR from “triumphant”

jazzfest guy April 28, 2014, 15:18:47

Anybody meet Jazzfest guy? You know the 240 lb 5’9 guy dawning a fedora and bad shades from North of the MD line who is a NOLA expert because he goes to Jazzfest annually? He eats craw anything while slurping rum watching some old black man he pretends to recognize play Footprints on a side stage before careening back into the main stage. Then he runs into 40k other replicas of himself. Jazzfest guy combined with Trey guy was annoying but Clapton was good from my spot.

beanhead April 28, 2014, 15:20:23

Clapton aside… you flew to jazzfest For phish expecting anythinf but a greatest hits show when that is what they have done at every festival (outside of their own). Its unrealistic to think anything else was going to happen.

BunchUhGrumpsUR April 28, 2014, 15:32:33

Festival Phish (besides their own festivals) aims to hit a general public audience. They aim to represent themselves fully/fairly to Phish heads and strangers alike, and they did. If you want a heady Phish set, follow them on tour.
Stop expecting experimental magnificence every single performance, and you may not be disappointed.
Ya curmudgeons!

journalismjams April 28, 2014, 15:45:47

Only here can Phish be triumphant in what 90% of people who saw or heard the show thought it was historically bad, while Eric Clapton disappoints with JJ Cale tunes he made famous. I had a blast all weekend no question. Great times during Phish. It was the worst Phish show I have ever been at. That is cool I was happy the whole time.. It wasn’t like other fest shows. Outsidelands, Bonarroo and ACL were all far better because the band practiced before show day and didn’t assault some of there tunes to a felonious level. Also, Trey’s tone predominantly sounded like what you may hear as you stand outside a nursery as a violent child rapist overtakes the classroom. Good club shows late. I need sleep.

repsect April 28, 2014, 15:47:43

You think Trey is respecting himself during Hood? Listen to their Manchester late night Kill Devil>Free and tell me Jazzfest was any festival show. It was so much worse. Respectfully submitted. Phish addict.

Claptonwasgreat April 28, 2014, 15:48:51

First off this is a terribly written article, Clapton was on point every song played was great, and if your going to mention the covers he did you should throw in the beautiful Crazy Mama by JJ cale. Another thing the man is 69 and can still play like that, have some respect. Plus for gods sake no mention of Paul Carrack playing piano and doing incredible vocals. I also need to correct the fact that Karl Denson played at the Republic New Orleans and George Clinton put on a powerhouse of a show at House of Blues.

Rarities April 28, 2014, 15:54:57

Sounds like the author wanted Wonderful Tonight and Tears in Heaven so he could start a hot oil orgy in the fair grounds. I personally loved the setlist. Plus enormous long soloing in Little Queen of Spades has been rare enough for me to catch at almost every Clapton show I have seen over 20 years. Isn’t that why Eric is a pro and well we saw Saturday.

Jonathan April 28, 2014, 18:43:07

God, these so-called music experts and critics are a joke. Clapton can’t win with these clowns. I have seen him many times and am always amazed at the reviews over the years. Whatever. If he had played more hits, you would have criticized him for that as well.

Phishing April 28, 2014, 20:08:51

Phish just plain fucking suck they need 2 just all kill themselves the music world would be a much better place

tumham April 28, 2014, 20:14:53

I’m THRILLED to have heard Clapton did NOT play his usual hits. As long as guys like EC charge big $$ for the concerts…hits are to be expected. A set like this one @ Jazz fest should be celebrated…I think it is dorky the editors chose a clip from Cocaine to highlight his set. Except for Layla & Cocaine, it was a nice set list!

A mason April 28, 2014, 20:53:26

George McConnell is replacing Jackie Greene in the crowes

lolPhish April 28, 2014, 21:52:27

Phish was pretty damn weak at JF.
We left at setbreak (who setbreaks at fucking Jazzfest!?) and went to Robert Plant who’s new band was actually killing it. Went back to Phish and it was still sucking. Not a fan of Clapton but he sounded great. Rodriguez was godawful.

john warren April 28, 2014, 23:25:59

Clapton was great. He’s 69 years old. His voice was awesome and he let loose a few times. Phish was good but we left to see Robert Plant who was amazing. For us it was Carlos Santana who was the highlight of the weekend.

Huge Bulge April 28, 2014, 23:48:38

I second that. Santana put on the best show of the weekend. Phish was complicated. They weren’t prime and my crew paid for some hookers tickets who they had with them all weekend. I am a one woman man, so it was quite a scene since none of these cats did this before in college and we are all married now. I moved way up first set, but I thought the guitarist looked trashed. I am not sure. His guitar reminded me of Garcia on the end of Space but during songs. I went back to my friends at setbreak and it was so nasty. They were just holding a couple towels up while each guy got head right in the field. Cash was flying around, strangers got involved and these girls made out well. I kind of just wanted it to stop. I am cool with most stuff, but something about this felt wrong and it hurt my experience Saturday. They had the hookers again Sunday because they wanted to make money on the towel tent scene with festival goers like the day before. No thanks, you know? Slow hand was great as was the Blue Nile late night or wherever I was. I took some Datura during the acoustic portion of Eric’s show with a few beers. Anybody try that? You should ASAP. I was tripping sack until I stepped off the plane today. I literally recall nothing from the Nile but had a stub and a used rubber I probably just picked up off the street messed up thinking it was litter.

Jamie April 29, 2014, 00:26:17

Good article, but I must say, I think you failed to mention the after show at Howlin Wolf with BoomBox, J.WAIL, Gravity A & Nunchuck (Chuck Morris of Lotus). It was a great time and the music was amazing! It was cool to have some beat oriented live electronic funk to groove on.

Terry April 29, 2014, 09:50:41

Author was right about the sound -we left it was so bad phish was ok not great. Robert plant was next to awesome. If you are talking covers you don’t mention galactic’s epic “gimme shelter”

Peachhead April 29, 2014, 12:52:10

In response to some comments, I would like to expect that the editors of this article could give an objective review instead of being up phish’s butt the whole time. And are people really complaining about 2 sets and set break? Most bands get the time that phish got for their first set and that’s it. Only panic and phish have gotten 2 sets in recent years that I know of. 2 sets is an honor to rceive at jazzfest and you should be thankful

Andy April 29, 2014, 19:16:55

The thing that broke my heart was that Clapton started playing “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” before just aborting it and going into something else. One of my top 5 favorite songs ever, aborted. Now we know where Trey gets it from!

Chainsaw April 30, 2014, 00:03:58

I wasn’t at Jazz Fest but I’ve seen Clapton live about 20 times and watched his Jazz Fest performance on YouTube. It seems to me that the reviewer is 100% off base.

Kyle May 1, 2014, 12:25:34

No one ever said phish crushed it but if you think phish phones it in WOW Clapton didnt even show up!! I love Clapton and his set was way worse the phish and that is saying something. All jambands said was phishs triumphant return which means they were welcomed back. No where did it say they kicked ass. Once again you fools went for headliners and got suckered. Headliners have nothing to prove that’s why u see them but also see every up and comer. ALL HEADLINERS PHONE IT IN!! Can’t wait for Christina bunch of haters in here. If I want to see nothing but negativity come to any comment page here jaded jerks

Kyle May 1, 2014, 12:34:26

Most people aren’t jerks in here just the jaded ones. I’ve seen Clapton a lot too and he did the opposite phish did. He didnt play a fest set but it wasn’t song selections it was like wow he didn’t feel like being there. Can’t win with jaded people so why bother. I woulda loved to been at all of the shows even especially Clapton an Phish

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