TVD Live: Jazz Fest,
the Second Weekend

The general consensus was the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was one for the record books. Mostly clear skies, low humidity, cooler than usual temperatures (at least Thursday and Friday) and no rain made for ideal conditions. Minor logistical and scheduling adjustments made the crowds manageable except for at the Acura stage where the headliners prevailed. Here’s a look back.

Jazz Fest is known for its sit-ins and guest appearances and this year was no exception with big names and cult heroes sharing the stage. The biggest guest turn was John Fogerty trading verses with Bruce Springsteen on two of his classics, “Green River” and “Proud Mary” during Springsteen’s marathon set on Saturday.

But surprises popped up all over the Fairgrounds. Donald Harrison Jr. welcomed James Brown horn man Fred Wesley (pictured above) and hometown hero Davell Crawford (pictured below).

Davell Crawford channels Eddie Bo- Donald Harrison set

During Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk’s performance, a billed special appearance by Art Neville also included a surprise guest turn by Cyril Neville (picture below with Ian Neville on guitar and the Grooveline Horns) and Jason Neville. Art’s voice showed the wear of his 75 plus years, but Cyril’s was positively vigorous. Though Aaron and Charles Neville were both on the Fairgrounds, a reunion of the four brothers was left tantalizingly undone.

Cyril Neville- Dumpstafunk

Charles however, did turn up during a performance by Cajun icon Beausoleil. He played the whole set, trading licks with Mitch Reed and Michael Doucet (pictured below.)

Mitch Reed, Charles Neville, Michael Doucet- Beausoleil

Appearances by Mardi Gras Indians are one of the reason people love the Jazz Fest. This year was no exception as newish tribes, like the Young Seminoles (pictured at top) vied for attention with legends like the Wild Magnolias (Big Queen Rita pictured below).

Big Queen Rita- Wild Magnolias

Jazz Fest is also a chance to hear bands, which don’t play too much around town. The New Leviathan Foxtrot Orchestra is a huge group with a decidedly playful streak. They play songs from early in the last century led by their energetic leader George Schmidt (pictured below). They utilized the world’s most eccentric instrument, a theramin, on a wonderful version of “The Sheik of Araby.”

New Leviathan

The Radiators Return was a highlight of the second weekend for many fans of the long-running New Orleans institution. They pulled out all the stops with a hit-heavy set, which featured another special guest—trombonist Mark Mullins.

Ed Volker (pictured below), the group’s principal songwriter and mastermind, was in fine form especially on the fan favorite, “Wild and Free.” Its chorus, “you don’t know what it means to me, to be here with you, wild and free” summed up the feelings of many festers.

Ed- Radiators

Given the choice between Trombone Shorty and John Fogerty for the final act of the weekend, I opted for Fogerty (pictured below with his son and Cajun fiddle player Joel Savoy) despite my reluctance to spend much time at the so-called legacy acts. However I was not disappointed. He turned on the fire from the get-go and didn’t relent until the final notes cascaded across the infield.

John Fogerty, Shane Fogerty, Joel Savoy

One more guest appearance of note—Allen Toussaint joined Fogerty, as did the TBC Brass Band horns, on a rollicking reimagining of the Creedence Clearwater Revival classic, “Proud Mary.” Many in the crowd were hoping Bruce Springsteen would return the favor. That would have put the crown on an early royal weekend.

PHOTOS: “BATON ROUGE” BILL BOELENS

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