And, we’re back! And off to a good start, because the driver for our first Uber trip to the Fair Grounds was the son of Robert Parker, of Barefootin’ fame. We got the lowdown on the song’s origin and while we’re saddened to hear that he’s mostly retired, we also learned that he’s tearing the Gospel roof off on the Northshore.
First things first. This man, Dwayne Dopsie, and his band, the Zydeco Hellraisers, are consistently one of the most dynamic acts at Jazz Fest, year after year. While headliners like Govt. Mule, Steely Dan, and Janelle Monae get the press (and hey, they’re awesome, too), Dwayne Dopsie’s band puts on a show that would be worth the entire week’s entry fees for Jazz Fest. People literally cry, and most likely out of both happiness and the realization that holy f%$7! man, I can’t do that. I’ll never be able to do that. And who cares, but watch me dance! You see, this is the opposite of cheering Sarah Palin for office. You simply can’t be Dwayne Dopsie. Or, likely, for that matter, either of his guitarists, Brandon David and Kipori Woods who absolutely shred on guitar. Or the guy who’s perhaps the best washboard player in the world, Paul Lafleur. Add Percy Walker, Jr. on drums and Dion Pierre on bass, and it’s like the X-Men of zydeco–all on the humble Fais Do Do stage. And that’s the way it should be. Who wants to watch Sarah Palin play accordion?
It’s looking like a pattern (defense: we’re metalheads!), but more goodies on the Fais Do Do Stage: The Black Lillies, from Knoxville, an upbeat Americana band with songs drowned in whiskey, hard work, pistols, single dollar bills, and partners that just won’t behave. They’ve released four albums and two EPs, although only the latest, Hard to Please, features the current lineup. Fortunately, that lineup includes founding member, songwriter and guitar player Cruz Contreras and vocalist Trisha Gene Brady, who’s got some of the best country pipes we’ve heard in a long time. We can’t wait to see these guys again.
Also on the Fais Do Do stage, BeauSoleil, fronted by brothers Micheal and David Doucet, from Lafayette, LA, and D.L. Menard, the “Hank Williams” of Cajun music, from Erath.
Another surprise, of a different sort, was Baby Bee, a glam rock band (yes, at Jazz Fest) from Houma playing on the normally “conservative” Lagniappe Stage. Powered by the Stark Brothers, who despite their ages (young) have been playing music for decades, and toured with a host of big acts, including Billy Squire, Eddie Money, and Frampton. It wasn’t clear that some of the crowd at the Lagniappe Stage knew what to do with them, but hey, with challenges comes knowledge, people.
We’re from New Orleans. We love brass bands. If you’re not a local, perhaps we love them more than you. Perhaps not. But whatever, here’s an important fact: New Orleans doesn’t have any bad brass bands. You can have a favorite, whether it’s the Hot 8, the timeless Olympia Brass Band (whose first incarnation was in the 19th century), Rebirth, or the New Wave Brass Band, but they’re all great. That’s about all you need to know about brass bands in New Orleans. Find one, listen, and in the famous words of Mystikal, shake that ass.
Be sure to check out the Belize tent and the Grandstand, where you’ll find some old-school bands from Belize, an altar celebrating now-passed musicians, and a fantastic St. Joseph’s Altar honoring Allen Toussaint, complete with a centerpiece by one of our favorite local artists, Karen Ocker.
See you next weekend! In the meantime, check out the full first weekend archive, including Janelle Monae, Maxwell, Taj Mahal, Johnny Sansone, Henry Butler, Kermit Ruffins, and more by clicking through, below: