Rodrigo y Gabriela with C.U.B.A.
Saturday night at the New Orleans Jazz and Heriate Festival brought Rodrigo y Gabriela with C.U.B.A. to the stage. Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela along with their two accoustic guitars consume the stage and it’s impossible to take your eyes off them. It was one of the most energetic performances I’ve seen and the audience were jumping like they were listening to the biggest DJ in the world. The show was outstanding and by the end of it I stood completely overwhelmed and inspired while they recieved a ‘screaming ovation’ from the audience. It was truly amazing to see an audience that size having that much enthusiasm for what was simply raw and real music, made my real instrumental musicians, in a show that needed to glitter, fireworks, or costumes, just amazing music that was honest, venerable and rocked hard without a ‘click track.’
They were joined by a cuban 13 piece orchestra called C.U.B.A who brought a pulsing groove to the stage and a whole other fantastic and impressive musical dimension. At one point Rodrigo and the C.U.B.A piano player were trading four bars of solo each and it was so beautiful to hear as they were truly listening to each other and instead of (as most trading 4’s go) trying to outdo each other, it was like a gorgeous conversation where one thoughtfully built on what the other had said. These guys rocked hard, they definitely took out number one place for me at the festival.
Thousands of people packed the lawns in front of the main stage under the sweltering New Orleans sun, hungrily anticipating the Foo Fighters show to begin. The crowd went nuts when Dave Grohl took the stage solo to open up the show before being joined by the rest of the band who built the first song to a climax that had everyone going crazy. The concert went for more than two hours straight and I never ever seen a band so enthralled to be on stage and entertaining an audience. Dave Grohl was joking with, teasing and egging the crowd on, saying that the crowd was amazing and the band never wanted to leave the stage. It was the biggest sense of unity between a band and an audience I’ve seen and Dave really made everyone feel like we were all in it together. The best song was an emotional and powerful rendition of Dave’s self confessed ‘favourite song I’ve ever written’ “These Days.”
Gary Clark Jr.
I’d never heard of Gary Clark Jr. before but obviously everyone else had, apparently he even has a day named after him in Austin Texas! I watched with amazement as he received spontaneous individual standing ovations mid song and a collective audience standing ovation at the end of every single one. Give this guy a listen, he is going to melt your ears with his outrageously impressive guitar skills and a voice that can be sweet as an angel or rough as coal mine and he isn’t bad to look at either
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
This woman is a serious performer and she has some mean, mean, meeeean dance moves. Despite this being the last set in a 7 day long festival Sharon still had members of the audience jumping to their feet mid song to dance or cheer. Neither Sharon nor the Dap Kings missed a beat and performed with musical perfection. The style of music is reminiscent of James Brown however Sharon Jomes and the Dap Kings have definitely carved their own niche into the soul/funk genre and Sharon has a personality that fills the stage and an energy that would be hard to beat.
After a set that had the audience dancing the wold way through she ended with everyones favourite song, 100 Days, 100 Nights. Half way through the song she stopped the band and changed the rhythm to an Afro- Cuban one. This could have been a planned part of the entertainment but I did think the Dap Kings were genuinely surprised if not a little (understandably) confused by the sudden change and I was amazed with how well they hit the new groove. Sharon definitely takes the win for most energetic performance and the second she finished she was out meeting and graciously posing for photos with members of the audience just to top it off.
Treme Brass Band
There are only four words to describe the gig that went down with the Treme Brass Band on Sunday 29th April and they are: Party – New Orleans style.
The band, led by 69 year old Benny Jones the band has a fantastic open, fun, loving vibe with members of all ages and personalities in the band. The music and atmosphere the main priority, there is no fancy performance choreography, in fact only some members wear the band uniform. They had the aisles filled with a giant new Orleans style conga line which means parasols were being thrust up and down in the air and people were dancing something wild. At the end of the show all band members left the stage and paraded through audience before returning for one last blaring chorus of music. Of course they played John Boutté’s Treme Song made extremely famous by the TV show Treme and this song – went – off!!
Extremely honorable mentions go to artist such as Feist, Janelle Monae, Irvin Mayfield and Henry Butler – you can read more about their performances in the ‘Jazz Fest Overview’ post