This week in The Roadhouse,
A post-Jazz Fest hangover. I’ll post more on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Wednesday, but here’s a little taste...
Clearly, the unfortunate theme of this year’s Festival was Katrina and the Flood of ’05, as nearly every performer had a topical new song about the disaster, revived old songs, or spoke about personal experiences regarding the Flood (for many musicians, it was their first time back in New Orleans).
But the highlight of this year’s Fest, I think unanimously, was Bruce Springteen’s performance on the first Sunday, 4/30. The Boss played a two-hour set featuring his new album “We Shall Overcome” with his Seeger Session band - a 13 piece that turned into 17 pieces (including tuba!) on the JazzFest stage. The material of old traditional folk songs and spirituals was perfectly appropriate for the occasion, and captured the post-disaster emotion of the city like nothing else could.
Which is the beauty of traditional American music and the folk song - the ability and need to revive and adapt such songs to fit contemporary circumstances; and in this case, it’s Katrina and the disaster that is New Orleans.
When Springsteen sang “My Oklahoma Home”, an old song about people losing their homes to the 1930s Dust Bowl, the residents of New Orleans, and the JazzFest audience of 2006, could relate. And when he played “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live”, a song about the stock-market crash of 1929, in which Bruce changes the middle verses into a description of New Orleans and current political in-eptitude, people cheered, then cried. It was that moving and that sincere. And the final encore, a near acoustic version of “When The Saints Go Marching In” (most likely his first and only rendition of the song), proved to be an unforgettable moment as the sun went down side-stage, and people were left gushing. It was that good. Soon thereafter, fans slowing filtered out of the Fairgrounds talking about one of the best shows we’ve ever seen. No doubt. Bruce is The Boss.
I recommend some video clips of the Springsteen show and many other performances at this year’s JazzFest. Also, read some excellent essays from our friend and fellow KEXP DJ Sean Nelson, who covered the event for MSN; watch an amazing performance from The Edge who performed “Vertigo” with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Grand Re-Opening of the storied music space in the French Quarter; look for a great interview of The Edge, who speaks about the “Music Rising”, a charity effort to put instruments back into the hands of musicians victimized by Hurricane Katrina, conducted by another KEXPer, our very own Jon Kertzer - who proves to be the next Barbara Walters by making The Edge choke up. You the Man, Jon!
You can hear two selections from the new Springsteen album in last week’s edition of the Roadhouse, as well as some always under-appreciated Jug Band Music, Cajun and Swamp Pop music of the 1960s, Country-Soul from the likes of Johnny Adams and Joe Tex, classics from Johnny Cash and Lee Hazelwood and new music from Cassandra Wilson, Beth Orton, Tom Brosseau, and The Deadstring Brothers. Check it!
You can listen now.
This week, Wed 5/10, ticket give-aways to Bobbby Bland’s performance at Jazz Alley.