Monday, August 25, 2008

NOLA in NYC - Lincoln Center Outdoors

Last weekend we went to New York for a free concert at Lincoln Center with all New Orleans lineup that was like a good day at Jazz Fest. The program was called "Roots of American Music", an outdoor concert series now in its 25th year. The Pinettes Brass Band, an all girl brass band, and the Hot 8 Brass band faced off on a small stage at one end, then paraded around to the larger stage in the band shell at Damrosch park outside of Lincoln Center. It was nice to see the Pinettes, whom I had never heard of before. Being somewhat of an amateur musician myself, I've often wondered why there aren't more women in brass bands. The only thing that bugs me is why does it always have to be an"all girl" band, making it seem like a novelty? But these girls could definitely could hold their own. The Hot 8 , with trumpet player Shamarr Allen, and the Pinettes each played a set on the large stage, then joined forces for a brass blowout including a rousing version of "when the Saints go marching in". which got a good number of folks second-lining around the plaza. Everyone wanted to be in that number!

Next up was Marc Stone's all-star soul review. Marc Stone is a DJ on WWOZ and plays guitar. Betty Harris, a soul singer from the 50's & 60's who had a hit with "Cry to Me" joined them for that and a few other songs. After that was my favorite set of the evening, the Campbell Brothers. They got us all to "Jump for Joy" with their fired up sacred steel music. They had 2 pedal steel guitars and some backup singers, and were joined by Kirk (Dirty Dozen) Joseph's Backyard Horns. They got everyone up on their feet to testify and sanctify, and we were festified. If my church was as lively as that, I'd probably go more often! And why else do people go to church? To be part of a community. Well at this little NYC festival there were at least forty others we knew from all our trips to New Orleans Jazzfest - Threadheads - fun-loving, fest-going internet-chatting folks whom we've become acquainted with over the years on the New Orleans jazzfest message board (which is how we found out about this Lincoln Center show in the first place). This online community has spawned a real community all over the world with the common thread being a love of life, music, food, and all things New Orleans. While most of us who were at the NY show are from the east coast, others came from as far away as Texas and California and North Carolina to get a little shot of New Orleans and catch up with some of our extended fest-family.

Singer John Boutte was up next with his unique brand of vocalizing. He makes every song his own. His version of Neil Young's Southern Man gave me chills-I'd never heard it like that bef'ore. and of course there was Louisiana 1927 as well as plenty of originals, like "Door Poppin". And of course he had to sing "Saints" as well, prompting another spirited second line.

Irma Thomas was the final performer of the evening, and she sounded as strong as ever. She did a mix of soulful ballads, some from her grammy award winning CD, and hip shakin' old favorites, like "You Can Have my Husband (but please don't mess wtih my man)", "Iko-Iko", "Done got Over" (with the usual ad-lib second line bit). And yes, more second lining from the adoring crowd.

My pictures from the day's festivities are here on webshots.

The festival continued on Sunday, with performances by Pete Seeger, the Knitters, and Patti Smith, who was joined by Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas. So it was quite a diverse lineup. I would have liked to see some of that too but it started late in the day. We had taken the train in from Stamford CT., where we found a deal at the Marriott. For the price of a tiny room in Manhattan, we got a nice room, round trip train tickets, ride to the station, parking, and breakfast, plus a chance to splash around in the outdoor pool before hitting the road to get home, cut the grass, and start to get ready for Rhythm and Roots next weekend. So many festivals, so little time!

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