New Orleans music will never die - neither will the city

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New Orleans music will never die - neither will the city

Postby maccastheman » Mon May 01, 2006 7:13 pm

Sunday was an incredible day in New Orleans. My friend and I rolled into town at about 9:30am after staying in Baton Rouge the night before. A huge rain storm came through during the night, but fortunately we made it through the bayou before it flooded the interstate and forced the cops to close it down for a while.

Pulling into town we could see hurricane damage on the side of hotels along the interstate - then we saw the worst of the devestation in the 9th Ward. I've never seen such destruction before in my life. (In person) It was like being in a wasteland.

Then we made it to the French Quarter. All of a sudden there was new life all around us. Fortunately Bourbon Street and the surrounding area didn't get hit quite so hard by the flooding. The music was back, the party people were back, and that great New Orleans vibe was back. Zydeco music was in the air, great food was being cooked, and people were having a great time.

We made it to the Jazz and Heritage Festival just in time to get a pretty good seat in front of the main stage.

After a couple of great blues artists (most notably Sonny Landreth), it was time for some real New Orleans music. Out came Allen Toussaint wearing an awesome Gold suit. He played and sang some of the greatest songs ever written - "Working in a Coal Mine," "Fortune Teller" (covered by the Rolling Stones), "Soul Sister," etc. Then he invited Elvis Costello on stage to sing a few songs from their new CD, The River In Reverse. Elvis was wearing a purple blazer, and it seemed to fit well alongside Allen Toussaint's Gold blazer. (Royalty colors)

Elvis sounded incredible and looked sharp. The new songs were super. (Especially the title track) I can't wait to get the CD. Then Allen closed the set alone with a few songs including a tribute to Wilson Pickett. ("Land of 1,000 Dances") His horn section was out of this world. It's no wonder Macca worked with him on Venus and Mars.

Following that incredible set I witnessed one of the most historic performances I will probably ever see. I know everybody keeps going on and on about Springsteen's performance Sunday night, but it was truely a moving experience. His new album, the Seeger Sessions, seemed tailor- made for the aftermath of Katrina. Uplifting songs about hope mixed with reflective songs about disappointment and the need to carry on filled the entire set. Most of his set was like a gospel sing-a-long. "Jacob's Ladder," "Mary Don't You Weep," "Eyes on the Prize," "My City of Ruins," "We Shall Overcome," etc. His energy was more powerful than ever - he seemed like a man on a mission.

As great as the Seeger Sessions CD is, this band absolutely kills live. Saying it rivals the E-Street Band isn't much of a stretch. The New Orleans style horn section was probably the most impressive part of the band. (Although he had a great banjo player, great fiddle players, and a great slide guitar player) Definately worth catching live.

All in all it was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. It really felt like a part of history. There were thousands and thousands of people there - Allen Toussaint said it was possibly the largest crowd they've ever had for Jazz Fest.


I wish I could go again next weekend, but it's just not feasable. Fortunately they are having a live Web Cast so I'll have to catch it on my computer.
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Postby 2 of 3 » Mon May 01, 2006 7:25 pm

Then he invited Elvis Costello on stage to sing a few songs from their new CD



Ok, now I hate you. :? :wink:
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Postby maccastheman » Mon May 01, 2006 7:42 pm

Being so close (6 1/2 hours), I just couldn't pass this one by. If I hadn't found a friend to help share with the gas expenses, I wouldn't have done it. But tickets were only $30, and I really, really wanted to see Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint together. I had never seen Allen, and I always try to catch as many of those pioneers as I can. I've explored a lot of Memphis music because I grew up just 2 hours away from there, but the only other real New Orleans musicians I had seen before this were Dr. John and the Neville Brothers. (Both incredible live)

I would like to go back next Sunday to catch Irma Thomas and Fats Domino, but it's just not really feasable. (Paul Simon is playing as well, but I've seen him before. He was great, but I don't really have to see him again.) I'm lucky to have seen what I did see, so I'm going to be grateful for that.

The Springsteen thing was just a surprise. Before the show I even planned on leaving the main stage to catch the Meters on the B-stage during Springsteen's set. They were playing at the same time. I'm glad I stayed for Springsteen's set.
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Postby maccastheman » Mon May 01, 2006 7:51 pm

Here's a great Reuters article about the new EC/AT album:

Toussaint-Costello: a collaboration born of Katrina
Mon May 1, 2006 7:36 PM ET




By Jeffrey Jones

NEW ORLEANS, May 1 (Reuters) - It's a collaboration that grew from Hurricane Katrina, and now Elvis Costello and New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint have cemented the relationship with songs that won hearts in the battered city.

It all came together on Sunday as tens of thousands of fans crowded a performance by Toussaint, known for a string of 1960s and 1970s rhythm and blues hits, and his new musical compadre, Costello.

"To see the sea of people out there who had no reason to be afraid of New Orleans -- they were obliged and eager to come to New Orleans and they were having a good time," Toussaint told Reuters during a post-performance stroll of the grounds at the city's annual Jazz & Heritage Festival.

"And Elvis Costello being on stage at the same time was another added treat."

Toussaint, a pianist and singer who penned such classics as the Lee Dorsey hit "Working in a Coal Mine" and "Fortune Teller," recorded by the Rolling Stones, has been active in musician and survivor relief efforts for his city, which was devastated by the Aug. 29 hurricane.

The disaster scattered local artists across the United States and left many worrying New Orleans' rich musical heritage could be damaged irreparably.

Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis described this year's festival as an act of defiance as New Orleans and fans of its music look past flood-ravaged neighborhoods and its other struggles.

"THE BOSS" PAYS TRIBUTE

The festival started on the weekend and resumes Friday for three more days at a racetrack that was submerged by flood water eight months ago.

Fans were also wowed on Sunday by Bruce Springsteen and his massive, rootsy Seegar Sessions band. "The Boss" paid tribute to New Orleans' musical legacy, calling it "This great mother city of American music."

Toussaint has played a major role in that.

Like so many of his fellow citizens, his home was destroyed in Katrina's floods and he is still rebuilding. But the 68-year-old's musical output has not slowed, as his work with Costello attests.

He found himself in New York after the hurricane and played some of the early Katrina benefit concerts with Costello, known for such tunes as "Pump it Up" and "Watching the Detectives."

London-born Costello was considering recording an Allen Toussaint songbook CD, and showed up regularly at Joe's Pub in New York, where Toussaint was performing for Sunday brunches.

"He thought we should seize this moment to work together," Toussaint said as fan after fan interrupted to shake his hand.

The result was the album "The River in Reverse," slated to be released in June. It marks the first time in a career dating back to the 1950s that Toussaint has collaborated on composition.

"It's very special with Elvis. For one thing, I've learned Elvis's heart is so big. He's a most sincere man about the music, about the art, about people and about our situation here," he said.

"This isn't an album just about Katrina, but there are statements being made by Elvis, especially, and myself that directly relate. But the album goes far beyond Katrina."

The duo previewed some of the songs, including the title track, for the festival crowd, which was also treated to a medley of infectious Toussaint classics.
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Postby maccastheman » Mon May 01, 2006 8:10 pm

And here's a great AP story about Springsteen on Sunday:

Springsteen Expresses New Orleans‘ Pain
Staff and agencies
30 April, 2006




By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY, AP Music Writer 1 minute ago

NEW ORLEANS - New Jersey‘s favorite son was adopted by New Orleans on Sunday, as Bruce Springsteen — through speeches and song — vocalized the anger, frustration, pain and resilience of this hurricane-battered city at the annual Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Perhaps the most pointed moment came as he prepared to sing an old song that he had rewritten lyrics to for New Orleans. Noting that he visited the city‘s ninth ward, perhaps the most devastated area in the city, Springsteen said: "I saw sights I never thought I‘d see in an American city," and added: "The criminal ineptitude makes you furious."

It was Springsteen‘s first appearance at the event, the biggest musical happening since Katrina struck last summer. The rock legend, along with Bob Dylan and the Dave Matthews Band, were among the high-profile names who joined the city‘s homegrown music stars for the two weekend-long festival, which kicked off Friday and will end next Sunday.

Other performers on Sunday included New Orleans music luminaries The Meters and jazzman Allen Toussiant, who performed with Elvis Costello . Toussaint‘s set was more buoyant than melancholy, as he celebrated with mostly upbeat songs. During his final song, he led the audience in a chant: "Home, home, everybody come home."

But perhaps no song was as bittersweet as "We Shall Overcome." As Springsteen somberly performed the tune, some people embraced each other, others dabbed their eyes. Another emotional moment came as he dedicated one of his old tunes to New Orleans: "My City in Ruins." Though he wrote it for his favorite town of Asbury Park, N.J., its lyrics resonated with the crowd: "Young men on the corner, like scattered leaves, the boarded up windows, the hustlers and thieves, while my brother‘s down on his knees. My city of ruins."

Not all of Springsteen‘s two-hour long set was downbeat; his huge band at times sounded like a boisterous New Orleans brass band, with its booming horn system, while he later injected some boogie and swing with another jazzy tune. But he ended his performance on a tender note, sweetly singing, "When The Saints Go Marching In."

The festival picks up next weekend with Paul Simon , Irma Thomas, Keith Urban , Jimmy Buffett , Buckwheat Zydeco and Fats Domino , who hasn‘t performed in public since being evacuated from his damaged Ninth Ward home after Katrina.
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Postby 2 of 3 » Mon May 01, 2006 8:45 pm

I'll have to keep an eye out on the blogs for the boot of this show. I'm sure it will show up in the next little while. :)
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Postby maccastheman » Mon May 01, 2006 8:49 pm

Most certainly. I think they Web Cast last night as well. If that's the case, I'm sure there's a boot...
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