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New Orleans Jazz Fest: The last day of a perfect weekend

Eric Clapton at 2014 Jazz Fest

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This has been a lightning-fast three day weekend at Jazz fest and it culminated with an appearance of “the slow-hand,” Eric Clapton. The day was one of those “park” yourself in front of one stage to get close to the guitar hero.

Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
© MF Andrews

First, the Congo Stage warranted a stop to hear Burnell Taylor. Taylor was one of the top ten finalists from 2013’s American Idol competition. Hopefully, Burnell will earn fame beyond the “Idol” label to be a star within his own right. Burnell has the “chops” to do it! In fact he may be the future voice of R ‘n B. Once you got beyond the Steve Urkle glasses, the man had a voice that is pitch-perfect, filled with all the heart and soul to blow any fan away! He had three background singers and a full band backing him.

On the Acura Stage, the North Mississippi Alstars were delivering a high voltage “world boogie” set that led band members into the audience singing and pounding drums. The band has undergone some major changes over the years. They are now touring with Lightnin Malcomb on bass. They were followed by New Orleans’ royalty, queen of soul and R ‘n B, Irma Thomas. She and her ten piece band delivered such favorites as “Iko, Iko,” It’s Raining”, and “You Can Have My Husband, But Please Don’t Mess With My Man.” The band was impeccable. For more information on Irma Thomas, click here.

Tab Benoit preceded Eric Clapton at the Acura Stage with his brand of blues. The Baton Rouge native brought it on. He has an amazing range moving from zydeco to Memphis soul and kept the “Clapton” crowd moving in the heat of the day. He even invited the crowd to request songs. It is a difficult slot to play and Tab delivered with aplomb.

Finally, Eric Clapton made his first appearance at Jazz Fest ever. Jazz Fest has been in existence for 45 years. With those odds, it is possible that Clapton will never appear at Jazz Fest again. This was also the most crowded stage all weekend. If you came late to the set, you probably unable to even see the screens.

My first statement is that Eric Clapton did NOT disappoint! He is a guitar master and he delivered. However, there is a lot of subtly in his performance that can be missed if you are too far from the stage. There was no joke telling, dancing or pyrotechnics. He played brilliant, effortless guitar and he sang. Crowd favorites were J.J. Cale’s “Crazy Mama” and his acoustic version of “Layla.” Add “Nobody Knows You When You Are Down and Out” and “Crossroads” to that list. This is the first of a four-concert tour in the United States this year. This was a good thing for us. For more information on Eric Clapton, click here.