Music is only part of the story at Jazz Fest, which is part of why covering it is so interesting. It’s a business story, so one thing that has to be taken into account in pieces that praised Katy Perry’s show—which was fine and did as much spectacle as she could manage under the circumstances—was that the number two name on the festival’s initial lineup release was a soft draw, particularly of young people. The folding chair village was full, but there was a lot of standing room on the track-side of the stage.
Bands have been trying for years to do what Moonlight Benjamin made seem effortless. Starting with The Gun Club, countless American bands have tried to find the place where the blues and Voodoo-inflected spirituality meet. In fact, Moonlight Benjamin do more than that, but the Haitian singer and the rock band accompanying her started there with “Papa Legba” in the Blues Tent Friday at Jazz Fest.
The Soul Rebels are the needle that has successfully risen to the top of New Orleans’ massive brass band haystack with a simple formula: New York hip-hop collaboration. Over the past few years, they’ve performed with the likes of Nas, Prodigy, GZA and DMX. These legends came up spitting over boom-bap 808s and chopped samples, and they've found a home on the band’s snare-based grooves and horn harmonies.
[Updated] The NBA All-Star Weekend was a series of increasingly surreal events, a bizarre juxtaposition of cultural crème de la crème and nitty-gritty New Orleans hustle. Saturday’s “Classics in the Courtyard” at Petite Bourbon—a Reebok and Footaction promo featuring Cam’ron, Teyana Taylor, Curren$y, and two converging second lines—epitomized the cultural mashup.
Curren$y and the Jet Life crew are so ridiculously prolific that I get the impression that they're idea of a social life is to hang out in the studio, get high and cut mixtapes. In the last month, Curren$y released New Jet City, and DeeLow released Molly Grasin time for Mardi Gras.
[Updated] I hadn't planned to do a year-end best-of list for a host of reasons. I'm not a list person, and that's not how I think. I know people, sites and magazines that do Top 50 lists, and I couldn't imagine how or why you'd try do decide if Album A is number 42 and Album B is number 43. I'm also not sure what the use is of year-end lists.