Day One Of The NOLA Crawfish Festival Serves Up Epic Jams And Tasty Vittles [Photos]

first_imgThe NOLA Crawfish Festival returned yesterday to pack the “Daze Between” Jazz Fest weekends with rare musical collaborations that could only happen in this music mecca. When something as good as the NOLA Crawfish Festival is on the menu, you can’t help but go back for seconds. Luckily Shaggy, the NOLA Crawfish King himself, had plenty of goodness, musical and culinary, on the packed stages and groaning tables, all ready to serve the ravenous horde that descended on Central City BBQ yesterday for day one of the festival.While the thousands of pounds of crawfish served started cooking in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, plans for this year’s festival have been in the works since the last notes from last year faded. Pairing legendary talent for curated jam sessions and rare side projects imbued with the spirit of a backyard boil takes much preparation, and, as it turns out, the same man who excels at filling our bellies is just as good at filling the air with song.No promoter or chef wants to simply repeat success. For this year’s Crawfish Festival, several of the same ingredients were used, though plenty of new and exciting components were thrown in the pot. The new venue—Central City BBQ—opened its gates yesterday to welcome guests for a first serving of food and the deeply funky sounds from Khris Royal & Dark Matter.Khris Royal is considered one of the best sax players, if not the best sax player, in New Orleans. For the uninitiated, considering the sheer amount of incredible horn players in this city, that is akin to being Michael Jordan on the Olympic Dream Team. Whenever he isn’t getting the call to play bands like the legendary Meters or any of the hundred other renowned acts forged in the Crescent City, he is getting his friends together to make his patented fusion of past and future funk that locals can’t get enough of. With his running partner Terrence Higgins on skins and guests like vocalists Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph and Dwayne “JuBee” Webb, the set was long on incredible moments and far shorter than fans wanted, judging by the calls for more when the group finished. Luckily for old fans and new alike, Dark Matter has new material on the way, like the new track “Insomnia,” which is being released on iTunes this Friday. Judging from the reception the track received yesterday, it is safe to say the future is bright for Dark Matter.Accidents happen in all phases of life, and a live music event is no exception. When the power went out temporarily to the front of the stage at the start Good Enough For Good Times, the battle-hardened production crew at the Crawfish Festival snapped into action. Thanks to the endless parade of shows the city sees, the people behind the scenes who make the music happen are among the most-seasoned and savvy problem solvers, quickly fixing the snafu in moments.Good Enough drummer Simon Lott took an extended solo that doubled as a clinic for syncopation and slow-simmering intrigue. His heroics, as well as those of the crew, were well rewarded by a massive cheer that went up from the audience following the brief outage. The deadly duo of Jeff Raines and Rob Mercurio showed just how tight their decade plus of getting funky with Galactic had made them. Utilizing their borderline telepathic connection, they played with a seemingly effortless funk that looks far easier than it truly is.Keyboardist Joe Ashlar was all infectious smiles and gorgeous organ swoops and swirls. Like life itself, Good Enough For Good Times’ set was made even more wondrous by its brief existence. Their shows are rare, but the memories they make are as precious as gold to those lucky enough to catch them.While jazz, funk, and zydeco may be the first genres that come to mind when thinking of New Orleans, Eric Lindell and his mix of country and boogie grooves gave the lucky audience a sonic palette cleanser from the dripping funk and soul that had dominated the day up to that point. The mixture of pedal steel, organ, and keyboards might have looked odd on paper, but for more than a decade now, Lindell has been making the unlikely into the irresistible.Lindell’s sound is a curious blend, but like the crawfish boil, the different flavors complement each other and were equally well received by the audience. The second stage was the place to be as heads bobbed and the air filled with guitar twangs and wailing saxophone peels. His set went by in the blink of an eye, and though the fans were sad to see him go, they made a mad dash to the main stage and the day’s big closing jam. Load remaining images Chef Shaggy took great pride in introducing the closer for day one of the NOLA Crawfish Festival—the stellar pairing of Ivan Neville and Cris Jacobs. The duo has is at the forefront of some of the freshest music out of the city in a long time. The interplay of Dumpstaphunk founder Neville’s dense organ sound and Jacob’s crispy guitar is sonically intriguing, though the magic is in the blend of their voices and their songwriting talents.Over the course of their two hours at the Crawfish Festival, they dominated the main stage with a mix of stellar originals and classic covers. There is new material on the way and talk of an actual tour from what was once considered to be just a fun jam between friends. As the fans begged and chanted for more at the end of their set, it was clear that any future work from these huge talents is certain to be gobbled up as greedily as the contents of Shaggy’s massive pots.The NOLA Crawfish Festival was founded with the hometown crowd in mind—the show ended early enough for those who had to return to work in the morning to make it with some semblance of rest. For those lucky enough to have the next few days off or who are just visiting the Crescent City, there are two more chances to come down and delight in a pure New Orleans experience and the biggest backyard boil you’ll ever see. Come on down and get your fill before the last plate is served! Additionally, you can check out more photos from Jeremy Scott in the gallery below!last_img

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