Event

2019 New Orleans Jazz Fest Day 4 Highlights: Van Morrison and Bonnie Raitt Bring Down the House

on April 29, 2019 No comments
by Paul de Revere

The 2019 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival brought out the big veteran guns on Sunday (April 28), with career-spanning sets from everyone from Bonnie Raitt and the Indigo Girls to Van Morrison

It’s 50th Anniversary of Jazz Fest Storytime with Bonnie Raitt at Acura Stage and she’s dropping anecdotes, music history and names like mad. “This is the greatest festival in the world for artists of all stripes,” she says from Acura Stage, and points out “it’s an endangered species,” which is sadly too true. Too few festivals do what Jazz Fest does. Raitt calls it “hallowed ground,” even, but it when comes to all the Jazz Fests she’s played (this is her tenth!) and the thick and thin of her career, well, “That’s why I don’t wanna write a book, there’s some things that I don’t even wanna remember.” She’s a font of bluesy wisdom but she keeps the set moving with “Unintended Consequence of Love” with New Orleans gadfly and pianist Jon Cleary. She introduces her longtime side men, including Hutch Hutchinson on bass, Ricky Fataar on drums and George Marinelli on lead guitar before “Need You Tonight” off her latest 2015 LP Dig In Deep.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Bonnie Raitt performs on the Acura Stage during the 50th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Gallery +17
Bonnie Raitt and Jon Cleary on piano and the Fats Domino Orchestra perform a tribute to Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino on the Acura Stage during the 50th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Bonnie Raitt performs during a tribute to Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino on the Acura Stage during the 50th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans Sunday, April 28, 2019.

Raitt dug deep into wardrobe to avoid being noticed at the fest or around town, where she wore a hat and sunglasses to avoid being mobbed. “I’ve heard some of the most treacherously great music the last few days” at the fest, she says. She mentions the Cultural Pavillion and dedicates “One Belief Away” as tribute to the late recently passed Oliver Mtukudzi, a co-writer on the track. Raitt covers The Fabulous Thunderbirds song “I Believe I’m in Love” with Cleary on piano and a little hip check from her to punctuate its final note.

“Damn, Cleary, you’re a mess in all the right ways!” She has kind words for John Prine as well (“having a helluva year,” she says, followed by a rueful, “It’s a miracle any of us are still around!”). It’s all by way of her introduction to “Angel from Montgomery,” Prine penned but Raitt popularized. She remarks on the 30th anniversary of Nick of Time before playing “Something to Talk About.”Then there’s a funked-up version of “Love Letter” from Nick of Time, dedicated to all the New Orleans funk greats. Too many great Raitt tunes and anecdotes to list, she winds down her set with the maudlin “I Can’t Make You Love Me.”

Raitt sat down with Billboard earlier to talk her personal Jazz Fest history, the fest’s significance and ways she sees music at the fest and around New Orleans without being noticed. “This festival changed the whole nature of festivalgoing,” she says, nodding at what set the bar for fully immersive live-music experiences in the ’70s. “There were Grateful Dead concerts, and then there was Jazz Fest. It was a precursor to Coachella and Bonnaroo and a lot of festivals were modeled on it.” If it’s changed much at all, Raitt said, it was “the volume” of it. “They need to get those headliners in there, sometimes people wish it weren’t so crowded, but it’s just the way they keep the economics of it going.”

So how has Raitt been able to enjoy it all this years without being asked for selfie every ten steps she walks? “It’s a total immersion of food and culture,” she says. “I try to plan a couple days off before, I put on a hat and be incognito and just be a fan, you know? I love just being among a swarm of people, which I don’t get at my own gigs. It’s been great to go around and pick and choose what to eat and which acts to see when. The fun part is the audience, for me, as well.”

Bonnie Raitt silencing the crowd

There were no bad parts of Bonnie Raitt’s set, and no mediocre parts; at 69 years old, the singular blueswoman remains capable only of varying degrees of transcendence, plucking which of her vast catalog of unforgettable songs she’ll breathe new life into with each respective set. At the Jazz Fest, she was joined by Jon Cleary, Ivan Neville and briefly, Boz Scaggs — Cleary and Scaggs helped her to pay tribute to Allen Toussaint with a stripped down, beautifully harmonized version of “What Do You Want the Girl to Do?,” which Raitt originally recorded a gender-flipped cover of in 1975.

But towards the end of her set, when she said she was about to play another sad song, the audience grumbled a little. Then the band hit the opening riff of “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” and any other noise seemed to disappear completely. There was only Bonnie, singing the song like it was the first time — except that she was joined, as quietly as 50,000 people can sing, on the chorus. When she finished the last refrain, for a moment she looked down with her eyes closed, seemingly feeling the heft once again of her best-known song.


New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Program 2019
OffBeat Magazine Jazz Fest Bible 2019
OffBeat Magazine, New Orleans and Louisiana’s music and culture publication’s June 2019 issue features our annual “Jazz Fest Redux”—a wrap-up of the great 2019 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, with a feature story on Anders Osborne and his newest CD; pianist Mitch Woods; The New Orleans Daiquiri Queens, interviews with Gina Brown, dining “Al Fresco” in New Orleans, a review of Demonica restaurant, music reviews, club listings and much more.
Source: © Copyright Billboard

Footnotes

But wait, there's more!

‘In this moment:’ James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt will take the stage at Tanglewood

on July 1, 2017 No comments

By Clarence Fanto, Special to The Eagle

LENOX — At some point during his Tanglewood shows on Monday and Tuesday night, James Taylor will bring on a surprise guest to share the spotlight before a capacity crowd of about 18,000 ardent fans.

In this March 7, 2016 photo, singer Bonnie Raitt poses for a portrait in New York to promote her new album, “Dig In Deep.” © Drew Gurian /Invision/AP

Singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt, an old friend of Taylor’s since they first performed together in Cambridge in 1970 when she was a Harvard junior and a newly minted blues singer, is a natural for a joint appearance, since they are about to launch a six-week national tour of 17 cities, including several baseball stadiums. They’ll be returning to Fenway Park for Taylor’s third annual appearance there — Raitt joined him in 2015.

At Tanglewood, “we’ll do a tune or two of hers, a tune or two of mine, it’s a simple guest spot,” said Taylor in a wide-ranging interview this week.

A limited number of tickets were available for the 8 p.m. shows on Monday and Tuesday, as of Saturday morning. The Independence Day performance, with proceeds donated back to Tanglewood by James and Kim Taylor, is followed by the annual fireworks show over Stockbridge Bowl.

Recalling her first gig with Taylor 47 years ago, Raitt said in an Associated Press interview, “I was nervous to play because I hadn’t really broken my chops in for concerts that much. But I was so excited. It was an honor to be both at my school and opening for him. He couldn’t have been warmer and more friendly. It was intimidating to meet one of my heroes, but he was just so down to earth.”

About to make his 25th set of appearances at the Boston Symphony’s summer home since his debut there in 1974 with Linda Ronstadt as the opening act, Taylor emphasized that “Tanglewood has been this incredible part of my professional life.”

Since the turn of the century, he has returned annually, with rare exceptions, and he credits his wife, Kim — a former BSO executive and current trustee — “for opening my eyes to Tanglewood and bringing me back here. It’s a great connection, one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

With keen anticipation, he discussed the upcoming tour, which begins Thursday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

“I’ve been aware of Bonnie and her music since she started,” he said. “She was an early musical friend since we performed together on Martha’s Vineyard in those great days when it was a destination for artists and intellectuals who wanted a cheap vacation. I’ve been eager to play with her some more since that first show at Fenway.”

This week, Taylor and Raitt have been rehearsing at the 17,000-seat Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., which can accommodate the elaborate staging needed for the large arenas and stadiums where they’ll be performing, including Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., Wrigley Field in Chicago and AT&T Park in San Francisco. The tour ends at Fenway on Aug. 11.

Tanglewood audiences will get a sample of their vocal collaboration because, as Taylor pointed out, “it doesn’t have room for the staging we’ll be taking around the country, since it’s primarily an acoustic musical house.”

Footnotes

But wait, there's more!

CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF TOM HAYDEN: A COMMITTED MAN

on March 2, 2017 No comments

REMEMBERING TOM HAYDEN

Tom died last October surrounded by people who loved him. For the last 4 months, Tom’s widow Barbara Williams, Troy Garity, my son with Tom, and I have been working together to create a memorial that honored and celebrated Tom’s 6 decades of commitment to peace, justice and democracy. 

In the course of preparing the memorial, I reread many of his books and speeches, watched films, news footage and interviews of Tom that Troy and Barbara assembled and read letters that friends and colleagues of his were sending in about the impact Tom had on their lives. And I was able to see with even more clarity than when he and I were together what an extraordinary life of dedication he lived and what a lasting impact he had on countless lives. 

From a working class family in Royal Oak, Michigan, a student and alter boy in the arch conservative Father Coughlin’s Temple of the Little Flower, Tom became editor of the prestigious Michigan Daily and, after reporting on the new Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in the early 60’s, the civil rights bus boycotts and sit ins in the South, he stepped out from behind his notepad and became an organizer and builder of movements. He was able to whisper to me the day before he died that seeing people willing to die for their beliefs changed him forever. And it was ‘forever.’ He never stopped trying to make Democracy a reality.

We held the memorial at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Sunday February 19. People came from all over the country who had been in the trenches with Tom, some from the very beginning. There were people who were part of creating the seminal Port Huron Statement on which Tom was the lead writer and editor— the document that laid out in beautiful, even soulful, language an entirely new vision of what a Democratic society would look like. It was a profound departure from the doctrinaire, ideological view of the “old Left” and it brought hope and inspiration to a new generation of young activists who came together as SDS: Students for a Democratic Society. To illustrate the cultural impact that the Port Huron Statement had, we were able to get clips from “Mad Men” and the film, “The Big Lebowski” in which characters talked about the document and how “cool” it was. 

Two of the Chicago 7 defendants, Rennie Davis and John Froines, were at the memorial. 

Troy, Barbara and I had the speakers arranged in chronological order so that one could see the entire sweep of Tom’s life as an organizer/strategist/movement builder/writer/journalist/State Senator. 

Troy, edited a wonderful opening video called “Who the Hell is Tom Hayden?” and then started everything off with an emotional, funny and welcoming speech that really set the perfect tone. 

A beautifully emotional Alfre Woodard read from Tom’s memoir, Ed Begley spoke about Tom’s commitment to the environment and how it changed his life, ending by saying that he named his daughter Hayden in Tom’s honor. 

Bobby Kennedy Jr spoke about Tom’s Irishness and why the Kennedy family asked Tom to be one of the pall bearers at Robert Kennedy’s funeral. Kevin DeLeon, President Pro Tem of the California Senate, talked about what Tom accomplished as a member of the state legislature for 14 years when term limits forced his retirement. Delores Huerta spoke. Bonnie Raitt, a longtime friend and supporter of Tom’s, sang “Change is Gonna Come.” 

Footnotes

But wait, there's more!