Jazz Fest-Day Three


Last night in Memphis
Tonight in New Orleans

That’s right, I’m with the band. Where we all want to be.

If you don’t know Little Big Town’s “The Road To Here,” you’re unaware of the best Fleetwood Mac album the legendary band didn’t cut.

Oh, they played their megahit “Pontoon.” Even the minor smash “Tornado.” But what made my day was those tracks from the “The Road To Here,” “Bones” and “Boondocks,” and…”I’m With The Band.”

I’d be lying if I told you the crowd in front of the Acura Stage cared. They were all just camped out for Fleetwood Mac. En masse.

Reminded me of nothing so much of that night back in the sixties when I was crushed at a Chambers Brothers concert at Boston Common. Get squished once, you never forget it, you know it can happen again. Maybe Jazz Fest is too successful. If someone cried FIRE, even if there was none, at least a score of people would be trampled, that’s just how tight it was.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Little Big Town’s countrified cover of “Born This Way.” That got the somnambulant audience going.

But it was “I’m With The Band” that made my day, that made me feel privileged to be in attendance, pondering how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go.

Lord I was born with a suitcase in my hand
Living in a life that few could understand
Sometimes it gets so confusing that I don’t know where I am
But I always know who I’m with
I’m with the band

That’s the magic. When the guitars start to twang and the voices begin to soar. We’re lifted out of our seats, onto our feet, we can’t help but sing along.

And unlike Maroon 5, Little Big Town is forever. Because they had another hit, the aforementioned “Pontoon,” and unlike pop, and the new rock, country never forgets.


Along about eighteen twenty five
I left Tennessee very much alive
And I never would have got through the Arkansas mud
If I hadn’t been a’ridin’ that Tennessee stud

Jimmy Driftwood wrote it, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band did the definitive version with Doc Watson, but the Little Willies performed it this afternoon.

Songs last.

And they’re not the ones that make the hit parade so much as those that infect musicians, who keep them alive.


If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s gonna break

Come on, it’s my second favorite Led Zeppelin song, after “Ten Years Gone” and maybe “Battle Of Evermore.” It’s the headbanging riff and the drums!

And that’s the one thing that Galactic could not replicate.

Still, today the rain finally stopped. But this is the land of levees, the original was done by Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe. And to hear that harmonica and those lyrics is to get your body swaying back and forth, like you’re running the river with Huck Finn, like nothing matters other than this moment.

I heard no more from Galactic, but this was enough.


The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was better than billed. It was the energy, the dancing, the fun!

Once upon a time we didn’t dance to electronics, but real instruments and people. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will remind you of that era.


I’d be lying if I told you the highlight of Phoenix’s performance was the band.

It was FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA! Sitting right there, next to his daughter and grandkids.

This is the guy who did “Godfather” and “Godfather II,” possibly the best two flicks in the canon. He was relaxed, taking in his son-in-law’s band, but I couldn’t stop thinking about his brain…”Apocalypse Now,” how did he come up with all that? Musicians are not the only living legends.

And sure, I’d talk to Spielberg.

I’ve stood next to George Lucas.

But they’re the Stones.

Francis Ford Coppola is THE BEATLES!

And Phoenix radiated energy and managed to enthrall the crowd by being themselves, which is so different from the rest of the hit parade, who strive to sound just like everybody else.

It was the synths…

And the drummers.

Two. Who were so powerful I think they might have been able to replicate John Bonham’s parts.


Last night I went to a party at Terence Blanchard’s house.

He lives on a main rue in the Garden District, an edifice so spacious and spectacular you ponder moving to New Orleans yourself.

And when he stood up and blew with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Shelly Berg I got those goose bumps you feel when you’re in the presence of greatness.

And just like that Joni Mitchell song, they were doing it all for free. Yup, the public pays, their friends get a glimpse for nothing.

And like everybody has e-mailed me, there’s seemingly more music after the festival than during it.

Tonight I got invited to see the Black Crowes with their new guitarist, Jackie Greene.

There’s a party at a bowling alley.

There’s multifarious bands on Frenchmen Street.

More than you can partake of.

I’m gonna have to come back!

(But I’ve still got one more day to go!)

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