Last night had that special kind of feel to it. The Empire State Building was even lit with Mardi Gras colors in celebration of Fats.
The info said the show was 8-11, and looking at all the people listed it seemed like a good idea to be on time. It didn’t start until around 8:30 or so. Fats looked really good sitting up in the balcony and welcomed our cheers. The room wasn’t that full at first, but did fill up a little later. It was a pretty big place, and it didn’t get too over-crowded since it wasn’t sold out. The short notice probably had something to do with that.
The house band was Adam Deitch, Erick Krasno, Ivan Neville, Leo Nocentelli, Wycliffe Gordon, and Donald Harrison. Boy was I happy! Leo was on his good behavior, something I’ve only seen a few times. He barely spoke and acted more like a band member. I bet there’s going to be a lot of pent up stuff coming out tonight, which I have no problem skipping (BBs late night funk show).
It started out a little stiff, a little low-key, but still good. I mean, it’s hard to go bad with a lineup like that. Someone on stage tried to get the band to stop in the middle of a good “Hey Pockey Way”, which seemed odd. Thankfully, they didn’t, and that was when things were starting to gel a little more anyway. Right after the song, they introduced Mayor Bloomberg. Whoah! OK, so that was the Mayor’s boy who tried to get them to stop (which again thankfully they didn’t). The Mayor gave Fats the key to New York City! I’m still so impressed by that. I didn’t even know they did that! Very special.
Then Fats sat down and played some of Blueberry Hill, which was nice. Then, they brought up Lloyd Price and kept Fats up for Lawdy Miss Clawdy. I had never heard of Lloyd before, but I’m told he is a legend. He stayed up and did a Stagger Lee song. I wasn’t sure if that was the same as the Greatful Dead song or not. The Dead were the ultimate cover band after all.
Then they brought up Olu Daru, which I enjoyed a lot. I’ve been meaning to check him out and haven’t had the chance yet.
The only part that didn’t thrill me was the song with Toots Hibbert. It was kind of flat and a good time to take a bathroom break. Well, that and the announcer coming up a lot – too much.
After that, things took a great turn for the better. The announcers stayed off the stage and let the gentlemen do their thing. Donald Harrison was amazing! He took everything up a notch and all the rest followed suit. Kraz was awesome, even Leo got a little better. Wycliffe Gordon was great, that was my first time seeing him. Adam Deitch was as good as always the entire set. I didn’t really notice Ivan much, he seemed more subdued than usual. He had a suit jacket on and no hat. He seemed a little dim to me.
They brought up Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums for the last song. He is truly amazing! They ended early, like 10:20 or something.
Check out Scott's awesome pictures:
While short, it was wonderful. Really gets me excited for jazzfest. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. I’m considering doing French Quarter Fest and then come back for the 2nd week of jazzfest this year. I also have a big desire to go to Festival Internationale in Lafeyette at some point, although I’m not sure if this is the year. We’ll see, it’s going to be hard to decide. I do think I still need a break from doing the whole thing. I just started getting saturated towards the end. I figure if I only do that every few years I’ll appreciate it more.