Moonlight Benjamin's an Earlier Contender for Most Exciting Jazz Fest Set This Year

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.

Leyla McCalla Maps Her Musical World Before Jazz Fest Friday

On last year’s A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey, Leyla McCalla situated her exploration of her Haitian Creole roots in South Louisiana, not by making Cajun or zydeco music, but by working with Louis Michot, Don Vappie and other area musicians to find a place where their ideas meet. The performances have obvious intellectual rigor, but it never comes at the expense of heart.

America By Taxi

[Updated] It’s appropriate that Ezra Huleatt’s band is named for a mode of transport. The lead singer for Black Taxi stays in motion - just back from Burning Man before this conversation, just back from a month in Haiti before that, and though the band is officially based in Brooklyn, even that sounds provisional. “I’ve been living in Brooklyn probably five or six years off and on now,” Huleatt says.

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