21st Annual Crawfish Fest
Augusta, NJ. June 4-6, 2010
The Big Easy Makes
its Way to New Jersey
Michael Arnone's twenty-first edition of the Crawfish Fest was another outstanding celebration of mostly Louisiana musicians. This year's lineup included: Taj Mahal, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, George Porter Jr. and the Runnin' Pardners, The Stanton Moore Trio with Anders Osborne, Mem Shannon, Papa Grows Funk, Jeffrey Broussard, Rosie Ledet, Galactic, Marcia Ball, Kenny Neal, Railroad Earth, The Campbell Brothers, The Iguanas, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Terrance Simien, and others. So, needless to say, with another stellar lineup and mostly great weather it's no wonder that Mr. Arnone was more than pleased by the turnout and of course the powerful performances.
Anders Osborne sat in with the Stanton Moore Trio which also included the very talented Will Bernard on guitar, but for the most part this unit meandered in jam band fashion and failed to capture my attention. It was also unfortunate that Mr. Bernard was offered limited solo time. A far better performance was given by George Porter's Runnin' Pardners, a five-piece unit consisting of guitarist Brint Anderson on guitar, Michael Lemmler on keyboards, Khris Royal on saxophones, Terrence Houston on drums, and the legendary George Porter Jr. on bass. For me the highlight of their set was a Meters tune that Porter said was never played live. Man, oh, man these funkster's really grabbed the groove and held it tight, especial Porter Jr. whose bass swirled toward outer space. For download samples of other Runnin' Pardners tracks, checkout: www.GeorgePorterJr.com/audio.html Taj Mahal worked within the limits of his trio and gave a very good account of himself, but did not possess the dynamics and color he does with his Phantom Blues Band.
But speaking of dynamics, the Dirty Dozen fired strong and at full throttle as they marched through a high-speed set that lasted nearly two hours. From my perspective the Dirty Dozen are the finest horn band in the land, and when you realize that this immensely talented horn section has been in tact since their inception (other than Big Sam, now of Big Sam's Funky Nation), each and every horn player was there at the beginning of their time for the Dozen.
They have a telepathic sense as to where they might take their music and can improvise live and on the fly - delightfully so. Additionally, this world class band has no airs, are very accessible to all of their fans and is a must see for me to catch in performance whenever I can. I wish I could tell you what Efrem Towns told me about what BP stood for but it's inappropriate for this column, but I loved Jay Leno's take: Bad Polluters! For other DDBB updates click: http://www.dirtydozenbrass.com"
The only downer of the Crawfish Fest (due to the BP oil spill) was that there were no fresh oysters for sale. Nonetheless, there were plenty of other Crescent City culinary delights readily available: boiled crawfish with corn and potatoes, chicken & sausage jambalaya, grilled alligator sausage, various po-boys, and more. The Crawfish Fest is also family friendly, and is an appropriate setting for children young and old.
Here's to the twenty-second Crawfish Fest. I will be looking forward to the 2011 edition. In the meantime, keep checking: www.CrawfishFest.com for updates
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com