New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Weekend Two – 5/2-5/5
The Meter Men – photo by Jeffrey Dupuis
Saturday, May 4
With the weather warming up, Saturday’s Festival-goers basked in the sunlight and were treated to a diverse line-up that included jazz greats, funk legends, and rock heroes.
Early on, the New Orleans Bingo! Show and Cowboy Mouth woke the crowds up with lively and loud performances. Cha Wa, a collection of Mardi Gras Indians and the blues, brought a uniquely New Orleans sound to the Jazz and Heritage Stage. In the Jazz Tent, one of the highlights of the day occurred with Fluer Debris – a superband made up of funk legends George Porter, Jr. and Zigaboo Modeliste with jazz masters Nicholas Payton and David Torkanowsky.
Later in the afternoon, the Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Russell Batiste, Jr. played the Lagniappe stage and the Preservation Hall Band made yet another stellar showing, complete with swing dancers and a tent full of jubilant onlookers. Fans could get a taste of country at the Acura Stage with Little Big Town or join Galactic for local funk at Gentilly. The Jazz Tent audience was in awe after seeing the ridiculously talented bassist Stanley Clarke and the George Duke Project. Eric Lindell played in the Blues Tent, followed later on by Los Lobos who were joined by the sensational Roosevelt Collier. Indie-rockers Phoenix closed out the Gentilly Stage to a big crowd.
Headliners Fleetwood Mac drew the largest throng of the day. Coming together again after working on their own successful projects, Stevie Nicks, whose voice is as intriguing and powerful as ever, Lindsey Buckingham, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood looked as if they were enjoying themselves as much as the crowd, who sang along to every lyric. Harmonizing beautifully, they gave the crowd cherished songs like “You Can Go Your Own Way”, “Rhiannon”, “Dreams”, “Landslide” and more. As they finished with “Don’t Stop”, people all over the Fair Grounds raised their voices to sing along, making it a poignant ending as many were trailing out into the streets of New Orleans.
Sunday, May 5
The last day of the fest was bathed in sunlight with a chilly breeze. Looking slightly tired but just as happy to be there, fans got a funky wake-up call at the main stage by the energetic Brass-a-Holics. At Gentilly, the ethereal Irma Thomas gave inspired with her soulful voice. Jazz legend Ellis Marsalis played the Jazz Tent in the early afternoon and Taj Mahal killed it in the Blues Tent later on.
There was an excited crowd gathering at the Acura Stage for the Meter Men with special guest Page McConnell, who had been tearing it up all week at their nighttime club shows. The magic between masters of funk George Porter, Jr., Leo Nocentelli, Zigaboo Modeliste, and Phish keyboardist McConnell was undeniable and a truly special moment to witness. “Fire on the Bayou”, “Hey Pocky Way” and “People Say” were some of the crowd favorites. The Black Keys brought their brand of grungy rock to a younger group of fans afterwards.
Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue closed out the main stage with a powerhouse performance to a jam-packed crowd, a slot that for years was held by the Neville Brothers. Daryl Hall and John Oates played a fantastic set of hits like “Maneater”, “Out of Touch” and “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” at Gentilly, followed by Aaron Neville performing his solo material. The Congo Stage was closed by the raw soul power of Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
A horde of muddy boots, drunken revelers and smiling faces drifted out of the Fair Grounds to end a Festival that did its heritage proud this year. Fans can now go home and boast about the food, the spirit of New Orleans, the rain dancing, and musical moments that they witnessed.