THE THUD BEFORE THE STORM:
The String Cheese Incident…or Minor Happening
After a muted first weekend, the Thursday that opens weekend two of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was perhaps the lamest day of Jazz Fest I’ve ever attended. I was puzzled when The String Cheese Incident was chosen to headline the main stage, especially considering Robert Plant and John Fogerty—leaders of two of the most wildly popular bands in popular music history—were relegated to the secondary ‘Gentilly’ Stage (no free advertising here!) Apparently my sentiment was shared, for String Cheese drew a crowd more appropriate to Fais Do Do stage. I’ve never seen the big stage so deserted that late in the afternoon! Across the fairgrounds Lyle Lovett drew an equal and perhaps bigger crowd at Gentilly. Considering it wasn’t his looks that snagged Julia Roberts I thought the show may have potential. I like intelligent, progressive Country in the vein of Dwight Yoakum but Lyle just wasn’t doing it for me. A solid set by the always dependable Marcia Ball and Galactic drum wizard Stanton Moore‘s jazz trio where he put on a rhythm clinic weren’t enough to save the day so I left early, glad that I’d volunteered that morning on a rare day when Jazz Fest wasn’t worth the cost of the ticket.
After four inconsistent days I was a little worried, but I knew I could count on Cowboy Mouth to interject some soul and energy early Friday afternoon before Bruce Springsteen saved all Saturday. Local rockers Cowboy Mouth has often been mentioned on this blog for lifting my spirits just at the right moment, and Bruce never phones it in anyhow, but has had a love affair with New Orleans and Jazz Fest that began with his 2006 post-Katrina show that locals still speak of in reverent tones for how he lifted the entire city on his spiritual shoulders and helped carry it through its darkest hour.
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