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Rock & Roll Rewind: Jazz Fest Recap

c d kaplan is a lifelong rock & roller. He loves Jazz Fest. Here's his latest report.

It permeates as it were mist rising from the reeds under a full moon in
Atchafalaya Swamp.

Fragrant as magnolia swelter.

Foreboding as the gators and snakes that lurk.

Mysterious as cricket and dragonfly crackles from the mossy vines.

Mystical as a summer night in the swamp ever is.

Phantom mosquitos hover.

Atmospheric. Melancholy.

Of all the acts I heard during the opening weekend of New Orleans Jazz
& Heritage Festival 2024, none came close to cutting through like Dylan

Musical reaction is never just about the performer's talent. It is a product of
that, also place, circumstance and the listener's mood, state of mind.

LeBlanc's music and I were simpatico.
I sat at the Lagniappe Stage transfixed. Immersed. Wholly enveloped.

Such that I've probably attempted too much poesy in my description.

LeBlanc has described his music as "dancing on a razor." That's what it
was like for me.

He was born of a musical heritage in Blanchard, Louisiana. Later reared in
Muscle Shoals, where his father was
a studio musician. The thirtysomething has the music in him.

I am grateful for the experience.

* * * * *

I want to mention a few other performers who resonated. There's
always this caveat: Everybody else in attendance at this potpourri will
probably have a different take, other acts that were their faves.
Others I surely did not hear.

* * * * *

River Eckert is fourteen years old, surely among the next great Crescent
City piano savants. His playing is adroit, but yet a little stiff. His voice hasn't
changed yet. Yet it's easy to hear the future.

He gets it, is ensconced in the city's historical traditions. He knows
Professor Longhair, James Booker, Henry Butler, Allen Toussaint.

Hearing him open a Fest day in the Rhythmporium Tent reminded me of
hearing young Harry Connick Jr. at that age.

The other extreme age wise is seventy something Robert Finley who
appeared in the Blues Tent.

The career of the sharecropper's son was rejuvenated in 2016, when
rediscovered by the Music Maker Relief Foundation busking in Arkansas.
Later by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, who produced his last album.

One of my guidelines when choosing whom to hear: "Is the performer
somebody I'm not likely to see around my town?" That, and a love for the
rhythmic and exotic has me obsessed with contemporary African
performers. There are always a few.

This year Mokoomba from Senegal made it a must trip for their set in the
Culture Pavilion. It was the right call. My favorite of their numbers was a
mesmerizing a cappella call and response in whatever native language is
their default tongue.

I also loved a couple of stalwarts. Zydecajun master Wayne Toups. During
a jam portion of one tune, he and group went from a guitar/ accordion back
and forth/ duet of the Allman's "Blue Sky" to the signature chant of Cannibal
& the Headhunters' "Land of a 1000 Dances."

A smile as wide as Area Code 504 ensued.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band was tight. They're the group that essentially
invented the contemporary brass band genre, moving forward from the
Second Line funeral traditions.

Observer of the Passing Scene: Pop Culture and Sports. Writer. Film Critic. Curmudgeon. Rock & Roll and Louisville Cardinal fan.

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