Uptown Jazz & Blues Fest (Click to enlarge)
Organizers of the 2014 Uptown Jazz and Blues Festival in Lafayette delayed the shows for a half hour until the worst of a storm had passed. And man did it rain.
Porky’s (Click to enlarge)
The rain continued sporadically for much of the evening, but it wasn’t too bad. The down side is the crowd was the smallest I’ve seen at the festival. The upside is there weren’t lines to get a barbecue rib tip sandwich at the Porky’s Barbecue stand. Mmm.
Jarrard Harris Quartet (Click to enlarge)
Saxophonist Jarrard Harris and his band rocked the Uptown Jazz and Blues Fest with their classic jazz when they played in Lafayette six years ago. This year, there weren’t enough folks in the audience to rock. Harris and his band (James Austin Jr. keyboards; Junius Paul; and Phil Fornett, drums) matched the weather with moody, bluesy riffs. But they also cut through the rain, offering an energetic performance that brightened the few brave souls in the crowd. Harris and his pals didn’t even let the fact that the music from the blues band from another stage get them down. They just played louder and better.
I’d be delighted if the Uptown Jazz and Blues Festival organizers brought Harris to Lafayette every year. He’s terrific.
Indianapolis Jazz Orchestra (Click to enlarge)
The crowds started to grow a little by the time the Indianapolis Jazz Orchestra took the stage. Audience were rewarded with a nice mix of tunes ranging from Basie to Sinatra.
Lao Tizer (Click to enlarge)
Karen Briggs (Click to enlarge)
Raul Pineda (Click to enlarge)
I was bit skeptical when I saw that the Jazz and Blues Festival folks had booked Tizer, a fusion jazz band. Too often, fusion seems gimmicky to me. Count me as a Tizer convert, though.
Lao Tizer and his band meld jazz and world music with a bit of rock and wow everyone who listens. Especially Karen Briggs, the “Lady in Red.” She’s amazing on her violin.
Percy Wiggins (Click to enlarge)
Archie Turner (Click to enlarge)
Howard Grimes (Click to enlarge)
Kirk Smothers (Click to enlarge)
For months I’d been looking forward to hearing The Bo-Keys, guardians of the classic Memphis soul sound. Then I learned of the death of one of the group’s founders Charles “Skip” Pitts, the guitarist who funked his way through both Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” and The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing.”
It’s hard to stay down, though, when listening to The Bo-Keys. Vocalist Percy Wiggins, drummer Howard Grimes and keyboard man Archie “Hubby” Turner are all veterans of countless class soul tracks from Stax, Hi Records and Atco. And the younger guys, especially the horn section, wake up the memories of Memphis in the ’60s.
A couple of my students caught the Bo-Keys’ set Saturday night. I’m sure they’ll be listening to Bo-Keys records for a long time. And if my students are smart (and I know that they are), they’ll start digging up classic soul that features Wiggins, Grimes, Turner and Pitts.
The crowd this year was small, but the music was great. I’m glad I braved the elements, but if it’s raining next year, I’m bringing a poncho.