TVD Live: Jazz Fest,
The Second Weekend, 5/3–5/6

PHOTOS: EDDY GUTIERREZ | With the exception of a slight drizzle on Saturday morning, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival had perfect weather for the second weekend in a row. While temperatures and humidity levels were higher than the first weekend, 2018 marked the first time in a few years where inclement weather didn’t affect the music. Here’s a look back at some of the sets I caught.

I eagerly awaited the first-ever appearance of Jupiter (pictured below) and Okwess, a Congolese band that was scheduled four times over the four days of the second weekend. They did not disappoint. In fact I saw them twice and some friends even sought out the additional performances.

The group was not a strictly soukous act, though that defining sound of Congo in the 20th century was definitely present in their mix. The band had rock touches and an ebullient approach that had people who walked up to the stage with curiosity joining in the throngs dancing.

Boyfriend (pictured at top and below) brought her boudoir to the Gentilly stage complete with dancers from the Fleur de Tease, the Merry Antoinettes, and the Camel Toe Steppers along with a truly rocking rock band. Her rap was interspersed with some snippets of classic songs that better helped tell her story of female empowerment including “These Boots Were Made for Walking.”

She changed costumes and props with each song and the act was thoroughly entertaining. The icing on the cake for the youngish crowd was a surprise appearance by bounce icon Big Freedia (pictured below).

The Revivalists (pictured below) are another act on the Gentilly stage that attracted a crowd outside the Jazz Fest’s baby boomer demographic. They have steadily climbed in reputation in musical circles crossing over between jam band and rock band, and they attracted one of the biggest crowds with fans packing the infield and a considerable number out on the track.

Frontman David Shaw has evolved into a formidable talent with a strong emphasis on stage presence. The rest of the band shows how far hard work and focus, along with great songwriting, can take an act that doesn’t fit the normal perceptions of a band from New Orleans.

The Radiators have a strong new album out, arguably the best studio work of their forty-year career. With only a few performances each year since keyboardist, singer, and primary songwriter Ed Volker (pictured below) opted off the road, the group’s appearances are eagerly anticipated. They did not disappoint with a strong set of old classics and new songs.

Bassist Reggie Scanlan and guitarist Dave Malone (both pictured below) were arguably having more fun than some of the folks in the crowd. Guitarist Camile Baudoin tore off some killer riffs especially on the wistful Malone composition, “I Don’t Speak Love.”

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (pictured below) inherited the final day, closing act time slot on the Acura stage from the Neville Brothers and has grown into the prestigious spot along with his band Orleans Avenue. The festival was bittersweet for many because of the death of saxophonist Charles Neville on the eve of this year’s fest.

Andrews and company brought out three members of the extended Neville clan, singer and percussionist (and Charles’ brother) Cyril, keyboardist Ivan, and guitarist Ian to pay tribute to Charles. They reached into the Meters’ songbook for “No More Okie Doke” and the Meters and Nevilles favorite, “Fire on the Bayou.” The added treat was Andrews tackling “Ain’t No Use” after the Nevilles left the stage.

Our intrepid photographer Eddy Gutierrez captured a number of acts I didn’t see, but since his work is so wonderful, I have included some additional photos below.

BUDDY GUY

TERENCE BLANCHARD

SMOKEY ROBINSON

TANK AND THE BANGAS

OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW

TELMARY AND HABANA SANA

See you next year at the Jazz Fest!

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