TVD Live: Bear Creek Bayou Fest, 9/30–10/1

PHOTOS: JOSEPH CRACHIOLA PHOTOGRAPHY | Bear Creek left its home in Florida after eight years and set up on the banks of the mighty Mississippi for two days and nights of funk and soul at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans. TVD was there to document all the music.

One of the bands I was most excited to see was Soulive since they rarely play in New Orleans outside of the Jazz Fest period. They brought the goods with a stellar instrumental version of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” Guitarist Eric Krasno, pictured at top and below, stretched the world-famous melody into funky taffy. Drummer Alan Evans (pictured below) and his brother, keyboardist Neal, were locked in tight.

Bear Creek has built a reputation as a festival that encourages jams and they have at-large artists roaming about to facilitate collaboration. Bassist and vocalist George Porter, Jr. and keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall joined Soulive for some spirited interplay, particularly when Porter, Jr. took over the mike for a rollicking version of “Turn on Your Lovelight.”

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Earphunk (pictured below) played their last show after announcing the band’s dissolution only a few days earlier. Sadly, the crowd was sparse for their set, although they didn’t seem disturbed by the turnout. They did a funky version of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” that turned some ears inside out with a killer lead guitar solo.

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Foundation of Funk (pictured below) is a collaborative supergroup and the personnel revolve around the Meters’ rhythm section of George Porter, Jr. and drummer Zigaboo Modeliste. For this weekend, they played a set each day with Eddie Roberts of New Mastersounds on guitar and John Medeski of Medeski, Martin and Wood on keys. The set I saw opened with the Meters’ classic, “Cissy Strut” and just got better and better. Saxophonist Khris Royal joined them for some feisty soloing.

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Numerous other acts played as well including Pirate’s Choice (pictured below), a great west African-inspired band featuring Sam Dickey and Raja Kassis on rippling lead guitars and the dual percussionists Weedie Brahmin and Luke Quaranta.

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Flow Tribe (pictured below) brought their trademarked party funk to the party complete with blistering washboard work. And bassist and singer Tony Hall (pictured below) delivered a strong set that was his tribute to James Brown with Brad Walker on saxophone.

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The setting was delightful, as the weather remained relatively cool and the humidity low. The only downside was the turnout was not as strong as organizers had hoped. But the first year for any festival in a new location, even one with a well-known brand, is bound to have a few hiccups. Here’s hoping they make it back next year!

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