I'll admit I decided to go see Freddie Ford mostly out of curiosity, but apparently he anticipated this. Twenty-seven Jazz Festivals, and way more since his R&B smash "Sea Cruise", the "New Orleans Dynamo" gladly beat us to every joke about his age that we could have imagined, to the point where his drummer would supply rimshots right on cue.
The Meter Men described themselves as senior citizen funk, but by looking and listening to them it was hard to agree. George, Leo and Zig were tight and together, playing the low-down grooves they were known for in their Meters days but with plenty of vicious shredding from Leo. Without a doubt this was one of the day's highlights at the Acura Stage.
I'm starting to think there's a competition among Blues Tent performers to outdress each other. I'm having a hard time choosing a winner so far, but Lil' Ed (pictured at right) is certainly in the running. Showy regalia aside, I'm a big fan of his recent Alligator Records release Full Tilt and was pleased to find that energy fully intact for his Jazz Fest performance.
Little Freddie King was already a big glowing square on my Jazz Fest schedule, but his single-song appearance at the Ponderosa Stomp last night really whetted my appetite. You see, despite his modest moniker and innocent smile on the cover of his MadeWright Records release, Messin' Around Tha House, Freddie's got more fire in him than plenty of performers half his age. Now I don't just mean that he can flick out devious blues riffs in his sleep; he can really (to employ some antiquated slang) shake a leg.
Each day in between Jazz Fest, the Louisiana Music Factory in the French Quarter has live performances all day long. Guests include legends like Henry Gray, Leo Nocentelli, and Kermit Ruffins. I happened to squeeze in onTuesday just in time to catch one of the best regular live acts in town, a supergroup consisting of Joe Krown on organ, Walter "Wolfman" Washington on guitar and vocals, and the powerhouse drummer Russell Batiste.
It's hard to tell who was more excited: the adoring Gospel Tent audience or Mavis Staples. But don't let that wide grin fool you — when she does a low-down number, shestill growls like a tiger. And as she demonstrated and told the audience, "I can still shake, baby!"
There's been no shortage of Mardi Gras Indian performances, and judging by crowd appreciation, that's a welcome situation. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and The Golden Eagles were squeezing out some obscenely funky tunes and, let me tell you, I had a field day snapping photos of those dancing braves. I also caught moments with Sonny Landreth and Brazilliance!
Guitar Slim, Jr., was in street clothes the first time I saw him, just strolling on in to Jim Russel Records buy their last copy of his own album. Without recognizing him, you could tell by the way he dressed and the way he held himself that he was a performer. Sunday he was in full force, coming out howling "Everybody Knows About My Good Thing" in his ultra-showy outfit, giving every camera lens a personal smile.
Rather than squeezing through crowds for a good view at the Acura Stage, I figured all of the smaller stages would be putting on their best acts last, so I had a feeling I really couldn't go wrong. I decided to go check out some bands I'd never heard of, going by a simple, general rule of mine: If it's from Brazil, it's probably good.