The Revivalists saluted the Foo Fighters at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Saturday while covering “Times Like These.”
But they didn’t bring people to tears like Stevie Nicks did by dedicating the bittersweet ballad “Landslide” to her pal Taylor Hawkins, the late Foo Fighters drummer.
This extremely intimate moment took place in front of a huge crowd on the Festival’s main stage. The crowd was even denser than the watching crowd the Red Hot Chili Peppers replace the Foo Fighters at the fairgrounds last Sunday, spilling over even onto the dirt road.
Maybe it was a pent-up request. Nicks first performed at the festival with Fleetwood Mac in 2013. Fleetwood Mac was supposed to replace the Rolling Stones in 2019, only to step down as well.
Then Nicks was booked for the 2020 and 2021 jazz festivals, which were scuttled by the pandemic. She finally made it to the festival on a hot and sunny Saturday.
Rory Block, Samantha Fish
Saturday’s schedule was dominated by female artists.
Rory Block grew up studying the blues. At the Blues Tent, the 72-year-old sat alone with a guitar and the ghosts of long-dead blues guitarists. She narrated and revisited the songs of Muddy Waters, Son House, Tommy Johnson and Robert Johnson in her country-blues style. She picked and pulled the guitar strings with power, but her whole show had to be louder. His song introductions and stories were mostly inaudible towards the back of the tent, and even much of his guitar work was lost.
Volume was no problem for Samantha Fish. Sheathed in bold white and black stripes on the festival stage, she and a brawny three-piece band propelled a blues-rock ensemble tailor-made for the big stages.
Blue skies and sizzling music greet music fans at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Saturday, May 7, 2022.
Since three calendar years have passed since the previous Jazz Fest, she performed a song that expressed her sentiment: “Hello, stranger, it seems so good to see you again/How long has it been/It’s been a very long time .”
She delivered one copious guitar solo after another on a succession of electric guitars, as her band’s keyboardist filled in arrangements led by the band’s drummer. In “Better Be Lonely”, Fish’s solo followed the song’s melodic line. Elsewhere, she gave off blues tones and gritty riffs, totally in command.
Rickie Lee Jones goes local
Rickie Lee Jones, a New Orleans resident of recent vintage, was waiting to perform at Jazz Fest. At the Shell Gentilly stage, she and an ensemble anchored by drummer, percussionist and vibraphonist Mike Dillon slipped into the background.
This set took off with “Young Blood”. All in poetry and playfulness, his voice skated on the keyboards and the horns. She strummed an acoustic guitar for “Chuck E’s in Love” as Dillon’s percussion provided structure. At the start of the chorus, the horn section of local jazz-funk band Naughty Professor gave the arrangement a Van Morrison feel.
Jones switched to grand piano for the title track “Pirates”. In “Danny’s All Star Joint”, she sang coffee and coins and butcher knives and a chicken in a pot over a jazzy electric bass.
The day before Mother’s Day, she celebrated motherhood. She was focused but clearly having fun. As her 2021 memoir “Last Chance Texaco” made clear, she’s lived a remarkable life, with extreme highs and lows, but she’s comfortable where she is now: “It’s nice to have lived so long to have a history with great musicians.”
Daigle, Badu, Nicks take it home
Saturday’s female headliners included Mavis Staples replacing Melissa Etheridge in the Blues Tent. (The Zac Brown Band will replace Willie Nelson on Sunday.) Erykah Badu casts her Spiritual Soul Spell for a large crowd at the Congo Square Stage.
A relatively small crowd witnessed Lauren Daigle, the contemporary Christian pop star of Lafayette, at the Gentilly Stage; it was much smaller than the Elvis Costello crowd the night before.
Covered in sequins and sporting a fabulous hat, Daigle welcomed Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and members of the Wild Magnolias and Black Hatchet Mardi Gras Indian Tribe to help him on “Hey Pocky Way.” Daigle delivered a blessing via his hit ballad “You Say.”
At the other end of the fairgrounds, Nicks opened his first show in nearly three years with “Outside the Rain.” “I’m at home watching miniseries, wearing super comfy pants, and teaching my dog to shake hands,” she said of her pandemic activities. “He hasn’t quite got it yet.”
Back at work, Nicks went through Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and his own “Enchanted” and “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”, with guitarist Waddy Wachtel also lending his vocals to the latter. Between ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Rhiannon,’ she showed off the quirky cape she wore on the cover of 1981’s ‘Belladonna’ album, part of a layered ensemble she wore in defiance of the day’s heat .
All the familiar characteristics of his voice were present. She prefaced “Landslide” with “Taylor, this song is for you”. Against Wachtel’s acoustic guitar accompaniment, she cherished lyrics such as “I’ve been afraid to change, ’cause I built my life around you/But time makes you bolder, even kids get old /And I’m getting old too”, which took on a different meaning in reference to Hawkins.
A persistent “boom, boom” tormented and distracted her throughout the show. She couldn’t identify the source, but it may have been Badu’s stage bass.
Nonetheless, she pressed hers. She covered Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'”, another tribute to a deceased friend. She revived “New Orleans”, a song she wrote after Hurricane Katrina.
Its finale was a charge through Led Zeppelin’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll”. It had indeed been a long time since Nicks had rocked.
“It was a trip,” a relieved Nicks said of her Saturday show.
A trip that ended in front of a hallucinating crowd at the Jazz Fest.
Note: This story has been updated.
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