BY FRANK DE BLASE
I’m always ready to go toe to toe with hammerheads who bitch and moan about the Jazz Fest’s non-jazz content. But the fact that Jazz Fest kingpin John Nugent colors outside the lines and books a band like, let’s say, The Sadies — that is a jazz move. And in the last nine days I’ve been treated to jazz and its myriad sub-genres, plus blues, rock, world beat, zydeco, big band, etc. and all their variations. Regardless, it’s a jazz festival, so shut up.
Incidentally, the best act of the whole damn week was Saturday night’s Abilene headliners, The Sadies. This band rocked so hard with its trademark western swing-surf-blues-garage-roots-rock giddy-up, I didn’t know what to do first; jump up and down, scream, or applaud. As you read this, I’m still doing all three. This show will stay with me a long time. And face it, I’ve seen a lot of cool shit over the years. Saturday night’s Sadies spectacular is up there in the Top 10 easily.
The band brought its own soundman so it could flex appropriately. It was hard to focus as both Travis and Dallas Good (front men and brothers in the group) both have something to offer. Travis has his high-speed guitar picking and maniacal fiddle abuse. Dallas is the tall cool one with the rich voice and the B-bender guitar. Both pick lonesome and mean. The encore tune for both sets was insane, as it included nods to Them, The Sonics, The Seeds, Bob Wills, and even Spinal Tap. The crowd went bananas. Like I said, best act of the whole damn week.
That doesn’t mean the rest of the night was a wash. Over at Max of Eastman Place Chic Gaminecreated beautiful, upbeat harmonies against a minimalist tapestry of drums, and occasional keys and guitar. It was more beauty shop than barbershop with the group’s splendiferous mix.
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars put on a show of polyrhythmic joy and thundering bass. The band just seemed so happy (especially if you consider how and where the band came to be).
I got as close to the East and Alexander stage as possible for Trombone Shorty’s set. He was a lot more contemporary and poppy than he was last year. So I opted to pop in for a tattoo at Doc Yager’s. Doc put a nice music note on my arm. It wasn’t a jazz note, it wasn’t a rock note. It was just a beautiful music note; just like this year’s Jazz Fest was simply a beautiful music festival.