2011 Crescent City Blues & BBQ Fest
" October 14, 15, & 16 "
Lafayette Square Park New Orleans, Louisiana

Photos:"Contributing Editor Bob Putignano shares some images from the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival. See why you need to be in New Orleans next October!"

Article:"What more can be asked about three days of "free" music right downtown in the heart of New Orleans? Bob Putignano attended this year's Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival. Read his show review to find out why this one should be on your festival calendar next year" Chip Eagle, Blueswax Editor.

What more can be asked about three days of "free" music right downtown in the heart of the Crescent City? There was a gumbo of national and local musicians featuring the likes of Henry Butler, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Mel Waiters, Little Freddie King, Tab Benoit, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Marcia Ball, Eric Lindell, Big Luther Kent's Trick Bag, The Campbell Brothers, Bettye LaVette, and more. Two stages are perfectly synchronized (mostly by stage manager Andy Neubauer from The Howlin' Wolf, two of New Orleans' premier music venues) so there's never a break in the music throughout the three days!

With so much music to cover, and several acts previously covered here, let's focus on the bands that I enjoyed best. Tab Benoit's band sparkled and sizzled for about seventy-five minutes. His set really amped up when Luther Dickinson (the guitarist for the North Mississippi Allstars) joined the proceedings. Not that Benoit needed any additional electricity, but with Dickinson on board they took the music to a frenzy-paced level. Immediately following Benoit's set Mel Waiters stood at the opposite end of the park. His band unleashed a powerful set of deep, southern-fried soul. Waiters really knows how to work his band and also understands working the crowd, not only with his excellent vocalizing, but also with his fond knack of communicating with his (new and old) admirers. Even when Waiters spoke about politics he never choose from one side of the political aisles and just rallied that we all need to work together; it was a powerful message for me and seemingly with others around me. Closing the night was Kenny Wayne Shepherd's band which was somewhat of a homecoming for the now California-based artist. Shepherd's band rolled from the get-go and unleashed several tunes from their latest recording, How I Go, that I had not heard performed live previously. Shepherd continues to elevate his creative guitar playing, as does his vocalist Noah Hunt, where it's (seemingly) obvious that Shepherd and Hunt have a common bond understanding of each other and their rambunctious music. It was a very strong set and the crowd loved it.

On the last day of the festival Eric Lindell started the proceedings at noon, and delivered a far better set than I had previously seen him perform at Jazz Fest (New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival) two or three years ago. Lindell now employs a small horn section that elevated his performance and I was pleasantly surprised. Next up was Big Luther Kent and his big band (with six horns!), who second-line marched through a vigorous set that lasted nearly seventy-five minutes. Jay Griggs laid down solid bass grooves, pianist Bruce Elsenshon was more than up to task everytime Big Luther called on him to solo, and guitarist Jonathan Long delivered his solos and fine rhythmic comps as well. By the way, Jonathan Long just won the 2011 Guitar Center's "King of the Blues" contest, details at: http://gc.guitarcenter.com/kingoftheblues But with all of these wonderful musicians it was Luther who wailed on top of it all with classics like "Sick & Tired," Teeny Weeny Bit," Flip, Flop & Fly," Hey Pocky Way," and closing with "Let the Good Times Roll." Luther is a giant of a singer who definitely deserves wider appeal, you can find out more about this big guy at www.LutherKent.com My only disappointment of the weekend was not being able to make my annual trek to Pascal's Manale restaurant as they were closed on this particular Sunday, but you can be sure I will be back there for (arguably) the best fresh oysters in the world! That being said, a great time was had by all who traveled with me (Antonia and Wilfredo) with special thanks to all the musicians who performed and to the fans who turned out to enjoy the exciting music. Last, but not least, I would like to close by saying this festival should be on your list of festivals to visit, where the price is more than right and the outdoor venue and setting is truly delightful. I hope to see many of you here next year, and until that time, keep checking www.CrescentCityBluesFest.com for the 2012 edition of the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Fest. Check out some of Bob's photographs from this year's Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival on our Photo Page: http://bluesrevue.com/2011/11/the-photo-page-crescent-city-blues-bbq-festival-11-04-11/#

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at www.SoundsofBlue.com. Bob maybe contacted at: bob8003@yahoo.com

Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com