April 28, 29, 30 Tower of Power and Lettuce, North Misssissippi Allstars and Tab Benoit and Samantha Fish, moe. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival By Andy J. Gordon
With the 2023 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival running over two consecutive weekends this April and May, the club scene in town is ramped up like no other time of the year. Artists from around the world convene in NOLA and book special shows, often pairing with local performers. Live Music News & Review attended a diverse array of those shows, covering rock, funk, soul, blues, jam and a blend of regional music styles. Here are photos and recaps that will give you a feel for the extraordinarily wild, special show scene that takes place throughout New Orleans during Jazz Fest.
On April 28, two different, but talented bands played at the majestic Saenger Theatre, supported by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Tower of Power, the amazing horn-based, soul band opened the show. Emilio Castillo led the group through a set of classics including “Soul With A Capital S,” “What is Hip” and their always crowd pleasing James Brown tribute.
Lettuce, the modern funk band with another amazing horn section closed the show. Ryan Zoidis on saxophone and Eric Benny Bloom on trumpet mesmerized the crowd with a selection of funky, psychedelic solos during several instrumental songs. There was even a trumpet sit in by Rashawn Ross from Dave Matthews Band. Ross played the rest of the show as part of the Philharmonic’s horn section. Adam Deitch’s drumming was particularly energetic as he was celebrating his birthday. The Orchestra’s strings along with the historic theatre’s fabulous architecture and acoustics made it a very special show.
Last year during Fest, The Fillmore hosted a blues based lineup consisting of Tab Benoit, Samantha Fish and Devon Allman Project. This March 29, North Mississippi Allstars took the place of Devon Allman’s band and Samantha Fish was joined by her recent collaborator Jesse Dayton. To up the ante even further, Duane Betts and Johnny Stachela were in the wings and sat in during the NMAS and Fish/Dayton sets. The NMAS set included foot stompers like “Shake What Your Mama Gave You.” Cody Dickinson came out from his drum kit to play guitar and sing on “All Night Long” while guitarist Luther Dickinson switched to bass. Back with their normal instruments, Cody pounded his drum kit while Luther, Duane Betts and Johnny Stachela had a guitar throwdown at the end of the set.
Tab Benoit was joined by his usual bass player Cory Duplechin and Jeffrey “Jellybean” Alexander played drums, forming a blues power trio. Benoit’s guitar playing is always exceptional and his voice was passionate during “Nothing Takes The Place of You.” The band did a fine cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and closed the set with a scorching version of Benoit’s “Medicine.”
Samantha Fish has been building momentum the past few years and with every live performance keeps enhancing her reputation as a guitar slinging, vocal dynamo. She recently joined forces with outlaw country guitarist and vocalist Jesse Dayton. They had performed through a rainstorm earlier in the afternoon at the Jazz Fest main stage. At The Fillmore, Fish and Dayton played complementary guitar solos, while each delivered excellent vocals and harmonies. Their explosive set of blues based, rocking jams included a few of the tracks from their new album. Eventually Duane Betts joined the fun. Betts played fine solos on a cover of Townes Van Sant’s “I’ll Be Here In The Morning” and the new Fish/Dayton song “Lover On The Inside.”
We got our jamband inch scratched at Tipitinas on Sunday, April 30th as moe. played the second night of their two show run. The Buffalo, NY based six piece band went on a sonic exploration of their deep catalog for a packed house of devoted fans. It was so good to see Chuck Garvey looking healthy and playing great. He and Al Schnier traded intricate guitar solos, shared vocals with Rob Derhak and led the band through improvisational jams over two sets of music.
They included expanded versions of “Wank,” “Buster” and “Plane Crash” while the second set featured a wild workout of “Moth” and a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” The encore featured vocals from keyboardist Nate Wilson who replaced Garvey while he was recovering from a stroke and is now a permanent member of the band. He sang and played an exquisite organ solo during Eric Clapton’s “Let it Rain.”
(>) Plane Crash
(>) Big World
(>) Ricky Marten
(>) In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (The Allman Brothers Band cover)
(>) Brent Black (> ‘Moth’ reprise)
Encore: Let It Rain (Eric Clapton cover)
Photos courtesy of Andy J. Gordon ©2023
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