Day 9 / Friday, May 1

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On Friday morning, the 2015 drill went exactly according to plan: get up ... get ready ... slather on sunblock ... gather tickets, cameras, and phones, but not our blue and white umbrella and used poncho-type pieces of plastic. Once again, the weather forecast just couldn't have been better, so no need to bother with them. We hit the Staybridge lobby to grab a coffee and a bit of food, just enough to get us through the trip to Jazz Fest. There, we would get some real good food. Once again, mission accomplished.

On the walk to the shuttles at the Sheraton, the temperature was again in the low 70's. The high temperature today was 82, humidity was low all day, the breeze was very light, and once again there was not a cloud in the sky. This day was simply perfect for Jazz Fest and for skywriting ("Dorothy" did not follow "surrender"). It felt much hotter than the low 80's, but as I said yesterday, that's the price you pay for clear skies and low humidity on the Gulf Coast.

My breakfast today was served by Crescent Catering from Slidell, Louisiana. These are the same people who made the Cajun duck po'boy I had on Day 3 in 2013. This time I had the Cajun shrimp and duck pasta. Believe me, this dish tastes just as good as it looks. Inspired by food cooked in Louisiana hunting camps, the pasta (radiatori, I believe; it didn't last long enough for a close inspection) has a brownish sauce, not creamy, almost like an etouffee. Don't forget, a splash or two of hot sauce is definitely required.

Laurie had veggie red beans and rice from Burks and Douglas of New Orleans. These are the same people who do the blackberry cobbler that we have had before. 

After 40 years, Judy Burks (in the picture at the left) is Jazz Fest’s reigning queen of red beans. She has tinkered with the ingredients over the decades, but she says there has always been one constant: Camellia red beans. "No rocks, no mess, always good, so New Orleans," Burks said of the product. 

Burks and Morris Douglas (on the right above) buy Camellia’s 25-lb. sacks and go through an astounding 1,200 pounds every Jazz Fest. Here's the complete story of Burks and Douglas and their red beans. Like all Jazz Fest stories, it's very interesting. Laurie rated this dish very highly.

Laurie chased the red beans and rice with a fruit salad from the stand of Joyce's Lemonade of New Orleans. I chased my shrimp and duck pasta with a Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy.

Today's cubes led me to the Blues Tent to start, while Laurie headed to Congo Square.  

At Congo Square, Laurie was going to listen to modern jazz bass player Roland Guerin, a New Orleans fixture that we hadn't seen before, who plays with a strong groove and feeling. He is rare in that he plays both acoustic and electric bas equally well. He was introduced to the bass by his mother and, intrigued by its deep resonance, he began playing at the age of 11. 

The first songs he learned to play on bass were Lakeside’s Your Wish Is My Command, Dazz Band’s Let It Whip, YYZ by Rush, and Stomp by the Brothers Johnson. During his years in high school, bands and artists such as Gerry Rafferty, America, and Booker T and the MG’s seeded his love for great songs and inspired him to write music of his own.

While studying Marketing at Southern University in Baton Rouge, he joined legendary jazz educator Alvin Batiste’s band, the Jazztronauts. Guerin adopted Batiste's musical innovations and concepts, and developed ways to bring his own musical voice to life.

"I like music," says Guerin. "I came up playing and listening to all kinds of music in Louisiana. There was jazz and classical, folk, blues, R&B, zydeco. My mother played bass in jazz, blues, and zydeco bands. We used to have jam sessions at home, and I've played some of everything. For me the true test of anything is how skillful the musicians are when they're playing it." 

When asked if he finds any difficulty in shuttling between acoustic and electric or whether he's been more influenced by acoustic or electric players, Guerin says: "My first instrument was actually viola in the fifth grade, before I switched first to guitar and later to bass. Yes, there's a huge difference between acoustic and electric in terms of size, body and design. It takes a different set of muscles and different techniques on each one. But I've studied the traditions on both instruments and learned how to attack each one in terms of the hand positions, the sound, and the swing. It's really fun to have a voice on both instruments. I remember seeing Milt Hinton and watching his slap technique; he was doing things with his hands and his positions that were very different from what I was doing at that time.

"But I'd say if there's a key, I've always been influenced more by bassists who tried to solo like horn players. Or an Oscar Pettiford -- when he soloed on either bass or cello -- it would be like Louis Armstrong singing or Ella Fitzgerald scatting. If you talk about acoustic players that have influenced me, the list is very long. People like Pettiford, Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown, Jimmy Garrison, Charles Mingus, Sam Jones, Herbie Lewis, John Clayton, and Charlie Haden as well as contemporaries like Bob Hurst, Rodney Whitaker, Reginald Veal, and Christian McBride. As far as electric players, Larry Graham, James Jamerson, Marcus Miller, Louis Johnson, and especially John Patitucci, who also plays both acoustic and electric and plays them superbly. As far as what he did to make people take the electric bass seriously, certainly Jaco Pastorius, but I never tried to play electric in that style."

Guerin has demonstrated his versatility and proficiency by appearing on more than 50 albums since making his professional debut in the late 1980's with Mark Whitfield in the Mark Whitfield Trio. He played with Whitfield for nearly nine years, but lately is more known for his membership in the Marcus Roberts Trio and his appearance on The Marsalis Family: A Jazz Celebration CD, DVD and PBS television presentation.

He has also been involved in a number of clinics and appearances at school systems across the country, including one squarely in the heartland: in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Based on these experiences, Guerin rejects the notion that jazz doesn't resonate with 21st-century youth.

"We've found just the opposite in our appearances," Guerin says. "In fact, we're part of something different, in that the parents and children in the places we've been really want music in the schools and appreciate it. We've played at elementary schools and middle schools, with high school jazz ensembles and college students, and all those levels, whether you're talking about music students or just people and children who appreciate music, they understood and enjoyed all types of jazz. The young children got into the grooves and understood all the scenarios we presented them. With the high school and college students, we discussed different approaches to soloing, showed them about ensemble playing and working effectively with a rhythm section.

"The one thing that carried over in every situation was that people respond to musicianship, to people having fun and to the groove. Jazz is a skillful music. People want to groove and they enjoy music that feels good, any kind of music, and they appreciate musicians that make them feel good and enjoy what they're playing."

In 1996, while still in Roberts's band, Guerin played bass on legendary musician and songwriter Allen Toussaint's album "Connected," an experience that revealed itself to be a turning point in Guerin’s musical journey. The recording of this album took place at Sea Saint Studio in New Orleans and was done in the same way in which many of Toussaint's hit songs had been recorded in the past: to tape, on a Harrison mixing board. Being a part of this process gave Guerin direct insight into a method of recording that had been applied on many of the albums he had grown up listening to and learning from. This experience allowed Guerin to reconnect more fully with who he was as a songwriter and a multi-styled musician.

Guerin eventually joined Toussaint's band. During the time with Toussaint, Guerin learned how details in music and in life go hand in hand, how to look at different interpretations of rhythms and melodies, as well as the art of keeping songs balanced. At the heart of his music are stories, told through multiple layers of simple compositions that come together to create a complex yet lucid sound.   

Here are one and another nice long videos from this set, and here are part 1 and part 2 of a set from the Louisiana Music Factory in 2011. On the LMF set, Kyle Roussel is on piano, Ashlin Parker on trumpet, and Joe Dyson on drums. Unbeknown to me at the time, I had seen Guerin in 2012 and would be seeing him again this summer at the annual Wolf Trap Swamp Romp in his role as a member of Toussaint's band.


When we parted I headed to the Blues Tent. If you go to the the first one or two performances there you can usually get up close where the sound is reasonable and there is a bit less commotion so you can actually concentrate on the music. I was there to hear a full set by Colin Lake, a great local singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Local by way of Seattle, that is. 

I caught some of Lake's Blues Tent set last year on Day 8, and you can read his story there. So instead of reading more of my stuff, you can listen to him on my video from today's set, and here's a playlist that has his latest recording. 

This year, Colin added some horns to his group, and they made his sound a lot more dynamic. Not that it really needed any enhancement. Being up close at the Blues Tent allowed me to get some great pictures of this very expressive performer. There are plenty of these on the Day 8 page in the photos section of the website.

Today's music featured a lot of past Jazz Fest favorites, so there's going to be a lot of cross-referencing in the interest of time!

After this show I grabbed a quick treat at the Heritage Square food area, a bowl of very yummy peach cobbler from the stand of Down Home Creole Cookin’. They also sell meaty white beans and BBQ turkey wings, which I still have not tried. You can read more about the folks that make this dish on Day 4 in last year's report.

From the Blues Tent, I motored over to the Fais Do Do stage to see longtime favorites, the Jambalaya Cajun Band featuring the 82-year-old D.L. Menard. You can read up on Menard, also known as the Cajun Hank Williams, on Day 11 in 2013, and learn a bit more about the Jambalaya Cajun Band on Day 4 in last years report.

These guys are great, and they are sneaky fun behind their deadpan expressions. When the show started, the Fais Do Do host introduced them, but we could hear fiddler Terry Huval but could not see him, because he was playing down in the crowd to get everybody amped up a bit. The other key member of the band is Reggie Matte, who is simply wonderful on the accordion.

When he appeared, Menard displayed his usual dry humor and appreciation for the people who come to see him. When Huval introduced his classic Cajun song La Porte d'en Arrière (The Back Door), he mentioned that Rolling Stone placed it as the only Cajun song in their list of top 100 country songs. To which Menard, quipped, "Thank God for D. L. Menard!"

Check out the scene at Fais Do Do in my video here. Additionally, if you want to hear more from this great band, you can listen to parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of a performance by this group at what looks like a community center, location unknown, filmed by Sam Houston State University, which I do know is located in Huntsville, Texas. Seeing this band is just a lot of good, down-home Louisiana fun, and it's one of those groups that I'll probably see any time our paths cross at Jazz Fest.

Meanwhile, I don't know where Laurie was actually heading, but after Roland Guerin she encountered and spent the entire time that I was at the Fais Do Do stage in the Sankoré Trades and Arts pavilion near the back entrance to Congo Square. There she listened to (and knowing her no doubt danced to) an African drum collective.

The Sankoré Trades and Arts Center is a community space to heal, teach, and exchange through the trades and arts. It offers programs and services supported by local artists, healers, artisans, and teachers. It's a project of the New Orleans Women Artists Collective and is located in the St. Roch neighborhood.

The organization's name is taken from black Africa's oldest educational institutions located in the ancient city of Timbuktu. In the 15th century, Timbuktu in general, and the Sankoré University and mosque complex in particular, was the religious, scientific, and literary center of the Bilad es-Sudan (West Africa). The University of Sankoré was the intellectual magnet to which scholars were drawn from all over the Muslim world. 

We met for lunch in Food Area II. I had the old standby, the soft-shell crab po'boy from Galley Seafood in Old Metarie. I've had this thing so many times the cross-referencing could take up a paragraph. 

Laurie tried something new, a Middle Eastern platter of falafel, tabouli, tahini, Greek salad, and pita bread, prepared by Mona's Cafe of New Orleans. Mona’s has been serving Lebanese specialties for more than 20 years. They are known for plating the freshest, most authentic Middle Eastern fare in the area. 

Off we went, separately again. I went to Congo Square to see Donald Harrison Jr., another regular for me. Harrison and his band (Detroit Brooks on guitar, Max Moran on bass, Zaccai Curtis on keyboards, and Joe Dyson Jr. on drums) are formidable. They go from hard-bop and post-bop jazz, to what he calls "nouveau swing," and then to a Mardi Gras Indian extravaganza, as Harrison is not only a jazz great but also Big Chief of the Congo Nation tribe of Mardi Gras Indians, carrying on for his late father (in the video, that's Harrison in the incredibly pretty pink suit). 

This is by far one of the best hours at Jazz Fest, and another performance that I'll almost always be at. 

We've seen Harrison at the Blue Nile with Dr. Lonnie Smith on Day 6 in 2013 and at Snug Harbor on Day 6 this year. We saw Harrison alone with his group at Snug Harbor on Day 6 last year, and then with the same group (plus a few more, including the awesome Fred Wesley and Bill Summers) on the Congo Square stage on Day 8 last year. Naturally, you can read about him and his excellent band of musicians at any of those links. 

"I travel through so many different styles of music, it's all part of me," Harrison said in a recent interview. "A friend once said, 'You're a one-man jazz festival.' That's what lives in my heart. It sort of helps me to be able to mix genres, especially when I'm playing jazz."

During the set, Harrison took a moment to remind the crowd that they were at a jazz festival. "You’ve got to have jazz in your life!" Harrison told the audience. "I'm not talking about smooth jazz, I'm not talking about jazz lite, I'm talking about real jazz." Harrison and his band then tore through John Coltrane's Giant Steps. As the song came to a close, Harrison chanted, "Keep jazz alive! Keep jazz alive!"

Another highlight came toward the end of the Congo Nation segment of the set when Harrison and Bill Summers engaged in a percussion duet. Harrison always gives the people in his band a chance to shine, and it has been really cool to see the young talent he surrounds himself with develop into confident, top-flight musicians over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, Wesley wasn't well so couldn't be there today, but Harrison gave a shout out and the band played his song Funky Good Time anyway in his honor.

Here's my video of the procedings at Congo Square today, and here are 1, 2, 3, and 4 others. For something a bit longer, and a bit off track, here's Harrison playing in an offshoot band for all of the players, called Frequinox, which are the great B-3 artist Robet Walter and Galactic's drummer Stanton Moore and bass player Robert Mercurio, and guitarist Will Bernard. This was recorded at the dba club at 3:30 a.m. after the last day of Jazz Fest this year. We weren't there. For a more "normal" performance, here's Harrison's regular band (minus Moran) at the Springfield Jazz and Roots Festival this year. Dr, Smith makes an appearance here, too.

Meanwhile, Laurie was at the tiny Lagniappe stage in the courtyard of the Grandstand to see the excellent singer-songwriter Maggie Koerner. We saw her last year on Day 4 singing in front of Galactic and her voice and stage presence just knocked us for a loop. Her voice could raise the dead. Her smoky southern tone oozes with soul and feeling. 

Although she had always loved to sing, Maggie finished college thinking she would become a psychologist. But while she was back in her hometown of Shreveport the summer after graduation, she met an actor who encouraged her to buy a keyboard. "I taught myself to play in two weeks," she said.

Soon after, Maggie caught the eye of a producer and recorded her first album, "Quarter Life." She also got to know two New Orleans musicians, Kristin Diable and David Shaw, lead singer of the Revivalists. Maggie and David co-wrote Hey Na Na for Galactic before Maggie moved to New Orleans in 2012, and later the duo wrote a second song for Galactic called Dolla Diva.

In 2013, Maggie got the opportunity to perform at Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with Galactic. "David Shaw and I were supposed to sing Hey Na Na together," Maggie said. Unfortunately, David got sick and couldn't make it on stage, so Maggie got to sing Hey Na Na with Cory Glover of Living Colour (I know it's long, but totally worth it.) Anyway, Maggie spent the next year touring with Galactic.

Being on the road with Galactic has enable Maggie to do a lot of co-writing with artists she has met along the way. She’s currently working on collaborations in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, Austin, and London. "I want to sing the hook of a rap song as much as I want to write a country hit," she says. Definitely an artist who refuses to be defined by just one genre.


At the helm of her all-male band, Koerner was right at home as she danced and crowed into the microphone, which was less of a tool and more an extension of her arm. She'd loosen her grip on the mic as it slipped from her hand, only to be caught by cord and brought back to her lips, then twirl and flip it around so as not to entangle herself. 

Koerner explored a rootsy, soulful sound that tantalized her audience. As she opened her mouth wide to belt out the first notes, the audience collectively oohed.

Koerner's space at center stage was hers to play with, and she jumped here and there as she sang, often pinching two fingers together like an orchestral leader. Her hand flowed smoothly up and down, patting out scales in the air.

"My dream was always to go on tour," Maggie said. "But then you realize that you miss your bed, you miss your boyfriend, and you miss New Orleans. New Orleans is where I belong, where I can become the woman I need to be." No video from Jazz Fest to be found; here's one from a couple of nights later, at the One-Eyed jack's club in the French Quarter, and here's 1 , 2, 3, and 4 that I found from a club in Mobile, Alabama.

So, speaking of Galactic, they were next up at the Acura stage, which wasn't ridiculously crowded today as it can be at times (see tomorrow, for example). They are another annual appointment for us, one of the reasons we bgan attending Jazz Fest, based on rave reviews from Laurie's cousin. We saw them at Jazz Fest on Day 4 in 2012, on Day 10 in 2013, and on Day 8 last year, and also at Tipitina's on Day 5 in 2013. They've shared the stage with the aforementioned Corey Glover, David Sahw, and Maggie Koerner, and with the spectacular guitarist Anders Osborne at the Tipitina's set, which was part of the Instruments-a-Comin' benefit. So you can read a lot about Galactic on all of those pages as well.

Today they were sharing the stage with Macy Gray. I guess if Galactic ever gets tired of being Galactic, they could be a backing band for hire, because that's pretty much what they were today, and to be honest, since I'm not a fan Ms. Gray, the set didn't do much for me. In Galactic's early years, Theryl "House Man" DeClouet, a gritty New Orleans soul singer from the Hollygrove neighborhood (check him out here), sang lead for them. Since DeClouet's departure several years ago, they have toured and recorded as an instrumental unit, with or without the featured guests.

Gray is so far by far the guest with the highest profile. Her 1999 debut album of contemporary soul, "On How Life Is," went multiplatinum on the strength of several singles, including the smash I Try. Her career has cooled off in recent years, though her fetching voice, with just enough rasp, is striking. She's had some issues over the years, too. Let's leave it at that.

When she hit the stage in red sequins with a black and white feather boa, it was most definitely star time. Gray has a reputation of being something of a loose cannon. The content and tone of her between-song comments hinted that she could possibly go off the rails at any moment.

She sort of acknowledged the band behind her, and they found ways to stretch out and express themselves within the context of Gray's songs. Ben Ellman stepped up for extended saxophone solos. Corey Henry took a turn in the spotlight for Do Something. Collectively, they slipped into their support role easily. Rather than Galactic featuring Macy Gray, this was Macy Gray featuring Galactic.

After four songs, Gray disappeared and the band was left to its own devices. They locked into an instrumental built around a guitar run by Jeff Raines. But without Gray, it felt like something was missing. Erica Falls, the latest local singer to be regularly featured with Galactic, and someone we've seen a couple of times previously at Jazz Fest (Day 3 in 2012, Day 8 in 2013 with Corey Henry's Treme Funktet, and Day 8 last year) did a couple of songs, and that reportedly helped.

Gray returned again, but was not pleased with the audience's enthusiasm. "You sound like 400 people," she chastised. "Do I have to sleep with you to get you to scream?" Later, the audience managed to sound like 4,000 people, in her estimation. When she finally did I Try for the set's finale, the crowd roared and sang along, and she finally seemed pleased. Here they are doing Stoned. Here's a whole performance of this show at the Triple Door as part of KEXP's VIP Club Concert series. It was recorded in July.


Much as I have enjoyed Galactic in the past, I bailed on this pretty quickly, working my around to the Economy Hall tent to see some of the Preservation Hall Brass Band. They were a highlight of last year's final day of Jazz Fest (Day 11) and they were no less fun today, playing a string of New Orleans classics in their inimitable style. Their distinctly New Orleans take on traditional marching tunes has made their music a virtual soundtrack to the cultural fabric of New Orleans.

Following in the great New Orleans jazz tradition, the Preservation Hall Brass is the resident brass band of New Orleans' most treasured jazz venue. By this time I shouldn't need to remind you that Preservation Hallin the heart of the French Quarter, has served as the de facto home of traditional New Orleans jazz for 50 years. 

Comprised of members of the great Olympia, New Birth, Tornado (shown here in Preservation Hall), and Young Tuxedo brass bands, the Preservation Hall Brass Band performs at the Hall weekly and tours worldwide, spreading the gospel of New Orleans’ unique musical and cultural heritage. They even continued to tour after Katrina and the resulting Federal flood shut Preservation Hall's doors in the fall and winter of 2005.

Among the people on stage today that I could identify were Daniel "Weenie" Farrow and Louis Ford on saxophones, Will Smith on trumpet, Ben Jaffe and Jeffrey Hills on sousaphones, and Tanio Hingle on the bass drum. 

Like all musical members of Preservation Hall, the members of the Preservation Hall Brass Band have performed with some of popular music's biggest names, notably My Morning Jacket. They remain popular collaborators due to their unique sound and ability to bring New Orleans flavor to any style of music.

At their live shows, they are everything you'd expect. There's just something ingrained into the nature of a good New Orleans brass band that makes you want to move. The showmanship and energy from the band members just feeds into that, making the Preservation Hall Brass another one of the best hours at Jazz Fest. It's just  a rollicking good time. What make it even more fun, as you'll see in my video, are the people who second-line around Economy Hall during the performances there. Another great thing that makes Jazz Fest unique.

During their performance today the Pres Hall Brass brought out a member of the junior edition of the Preservation Hall bands to play some and sing St. James Infirmary, and he did a wonderful job.

So the only video I can find of the Preservation Hall Brass Band is, once again, mine, so here it is. Enjoy this snippet of a real fine show.

After our two shows ended, we made the mistake of entering the Blues Tent for the last show of the day there, that being Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, George Porter Jr., Johnny Sansone, and others as the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars. We saw some of this group's performance as we walked around the track on Day 3 in 2013, and were really hoping to see a complete show. There's more info about the band and the organization at the 2013 link. Briefly, their goal is to use their power as extraordinary musicians to raise awareness of the destruction of the Mississippi River Delta wetlands that protect New Orleans from the ravages of hurricanes. They perform around the country with a core group and additional musicians that have included at times Dr. John and Michael Doucet.

Unfortunately, the Blues Tent was packed. We were standing along the side, fairly close to the stage, but couldn't see half of the musicians. Plus it was just too nice of a day to be cooped up in a tent. Note to Jazz Fest organizers: when scheduling a group whose goal is protecting the great outdoors, maybe you'd want to place them on an outdoor stage. We left after a couple of songs, still hoping to see an entire show from this band. Here's an excerpt that somebody else recorded.

Anyway, there were plenty of other choices. Laurie wanted to check out No Doubt over at the Acura Stage, while I opted for Rockin' Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters at the Fais Do Do stage.

On her way over to the Acura Stage, Laurie stopped at Food Area II and grabbed a key lime tart from Legal Perks of New Orleans. It's a few silky, sweet-sour spoonfuls of lime balanced by a crunchy crust. A traditional tart made with egg yolks, condensed milk and real lime juice, its recipe comes from a Junior League cookbook. It has served Cecelia Husing (and her Jazz Fest customers) faithfully for 29 years. 

Husing also serves a strawberry shortcake at her booth. Asked why she makes shortcake and pie and not, say, boudin or oyster po-boys, Husing laughs, and says, "I couldn’t poison anybody with shortcake!" Hardly. Husing has been in the New Orleans cooking business for decades, having opened the original K-Paul's alongside the late chef Paul Prudhomme. 

Thinking back to the old days of Jazz Fest, she remembers that food vendors were grouped in a "big blue circus tent," and anybody who wanted to sell food at the Fest could do it. "It's more competitive now," she said.

When she's not slinging pie crust at Jazz Fest, Husing operates Legal Perks, a café and coffee shop tucked into an office building at Tulane Avenue and Broad Street that is known as an oasis of made-to-order freshness.

Great minds work alike because I, on my way to the Fais Do Do stage, took a detour to the La Divina Gelateria's stand and grabbed a coconut-lime sorbetto. Perfect on a hot afternoon!

Over at the Acura stage, Laurie saw No Doubt relive their infectious pop from the late 1990's and early 2000's. Their sound is sort of a punky ska beat with new-wave keyboards and bouncy bass. 

Gwen Stefani, now 45, has been building a successful solo career and evolving into something of a style icon, to boot. She has three children with her husband of a dozen years, Gavin Rossdale. The four main members of No Doubt have a total of 10 children among them. 

There are common Caribbean ancestors shared by No Doubt's third-wave ska punk and traditional New Orleans music. The other, more specific connection that the band has with the city is drummer Adrian Young's friendship with the Saints' quarterback Drew Brees. They met at a golf tournament in 2007 and visit one another several times a year. Horn section Stephen Bradley and Gabrial McNair, with Young playing a shuffle beat, paid tribute to the city mid-set with a take on the street-parade standard Second Line (Joe Avery's Blues).


No Doubt's breakout recording, "Tragic Kingdom," turns 20 at the end of this year. The polished and cosmopolitan grown-up lady Stefani has come a long way from the punky Orange County tomboy, whose first serious turn at songwriting dealt with early heartbreak and frustration with society's approved roles for young women. However, she slipped back into that role well at Jazz Fest. During Just A Girl, she said, "If you're a 17-year-old girl, raise your hand!" almost all the hands in the sea of Acura stage fans went up. 

At the end of the performance, Stefani said, "I love this place. This place feels like spirit. You guys have a different kind of connection with something bigger than I can really explain, so thank you for sharing it with us." Here's a 20-minute excerpt from this show.


At Fais Do Do, Rockin' Dopsie Jr. (it's pronounced Doopsie) was bringing some incrediby high-energy zydeco to end the day. Dopsie is called the James Brown of zydeco, and that's a title that's very appropriate. Throw in some New Orleans funk, add some soul and R&B to the mix, drop in Dopsie's brothers Anthony on accordion and Tiger on drums, and back it up with the top-notch backing band, the Zydeco Twisters, and you have a show that just won't let up, not for a minute. We had a taste of this band at the Rock 'n' Bowl back on Day 3 in 2013, and a taste of Dopsie's larger-than-life personality as well as he and Kermit Ruffins hammed it up during Kermit's set.

When Rockin' Dopsie (here he is doing the Louisiana Two-Step in 1984) unexpectedly passed away in 1993, the Dopsie family vowed to keep his memory alive, mainly in the incarnation of this band. They carried on with Dopsie Jr. taking the lead. Tiger stayed on the drums and Anthony, a great accordion player in his own right, took his father's place. 

This created a band that has become nothing less than a phenomenon. No other zydeco band has ever been fronted by a scrub board player; it's usually the accordion player. And along with that you can bet that there's never been a personality quite like Rockin' Dopsie Jr.

Dopsie's earliest musical memories are of his father's accordion playing. He was given a basic accordion by his father at the age of nine and taught himself to play, as had his father, by listening to and playing along with the radio. His father was noted for playing his accordion upside down; as a left-hander, that's how he taught himself to play it. That did not make it easy for Anthony to learn to play the instrument, especially since he's right-handed!

Speaking about the accordion, Dopsie Jr. said, "I really loved that sound, but I needed more mobility so I could jump up and down and do my splits, you know." And split he does! 

Then there is the music "I must've inherited my love for the blues from my father 'cause I still listen to B.B. King, Jimmy Reed, the Vaughn Brothers, and Bobby Bland. But when I was growing up, the Jackson Five, Sly Stone, and James Brown, were really happening." Both styles were evident this performance. 

Dopsie played in several bands in his early teens, but at age 21 was given his first scrub board, a must for the authentic presentation of zydeco. The scrub board was his ticket to joining his father's band. With the scrub board, he was able to play the music that he loved while dancing like the R&B stars of the time. 

This day didn't really need any additional heat, but Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters certainly brought it. 

For the record, Rockin' Dopsie Jr. is really David Rubin. The real Jr. in the family is Tiger Dopsie, a.k.a. Alton Rubin Jr. Anthony Dopsie's given name is Anthony Rubin. In the Zydeco Twisters are original members Paul Senegal on guitar and Alonzo Johnson on bass, and a saxophone and trumpet player. 

The Twisters today were augmented by Vasti Jackson (in the picture below) on guitar. A great performer, songwriter, arranger, and producer with roots in McComb, Mississippi (birthplace of Bo Diddley and ... Britney Spears). He moved right along with Dopsie from blues to soul to rock, and of course ... zydeco!

Late afternoon at Fais Do Do is always special. This performance was nothing less than that. Laurie came over from the Acura stage for the last couple of songs. Here's my video (which is great, what you can see through the, er, smoke) and one other and yet another I could find from today's performance. For good measure, here's 12 minutes from this year's French Quarter Fest.  

We caught the bus back to town without a whole lot of wait. We had leftovers for dinner and just hung out at the Staybridge tonight. Yesterday's late, late evening had taken its toll.


Dopsie 3
© Jeff Mangold 2012