Hey hey hey, what have you been doing? I’ve been laying around on my backside wondering when you were going to revisit BRP, and now here you are! Are you ready for the final JF live reviews? OK, then let’s get to it, my friends.
Saturday was another glorious day in Louisiana. The sun was bright and warm with a steady breeze that it kept it from being hot. And man, did that ever bring out the crowds. JF was busting at the seams. But the fine weather virtually eliminated the mud, so this time it was shorts and sneakers.
We had a couple of bands that we really wanted to see, but not early. So we camped out in front of one stage, and just watched what came to us. It was a plan that worked on this day. We hung with some cool people from Houston, and were highly entertained by the people-watching as well as the music. The first act out was a true keeper, followed by the most ridiculous dud of the festival, then two more awesome acts to finish the day. Can you say a great day? I knew you could.
Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys Amanda Shaw plays the fiddle. I should say that she owns the damn thing, because she is incredible. Only 24 years old, she was a musical prodigy that first played the Kids Tent at JF when she was 10. She has a fantastic stage presence, a powerful but sweet voice, and a backup band who understand that she is the star. Her music is sometimes country, sometimes indie rock, sometimes roots and sometimes cajun. It’s a good combination, and she borrows liberally from all. She dresses up in flashy and sexy clothes, and a good word that I heard to describe her was “effervescent.” I was up front for the entire set, and it was truly worthwhile.
Tank and the Bangas I have no idea what this was all about. There were people dressed in those colored full body suits dancing on the stage, some musicians, and a lot of terrible music. Throw in some spoken word stuff that seemed nonsensical, but rhymed, and you pretty much get the picture. Well, maybe. This was the worst performance I saw at JF, and not by a little bit. Terrible. Awful. Get the picture? Good, because I didn’t waste my time taking any on this act.
The Iguanas Hey, I forgot to mention these guys from Day One, and now seems like a good time to restore some musical sanity to this post. The Iguanas were fun, played a zesty set full of songs featuring both Spanish and English language lyrics, and kept the crowd hopping with their pumped up south-of-the-border but roots-influenced songs. It was a good set, BRP was close and pumped up, and I recommend these guys if you get the chance to see them.
Irma Thomas We made our way down to the biggest stage at JF so that we could get a space to see Stevie Wonder. Irma Thomas was performing before him, and what a treat this was. Soul and R&B filled the Acura Stage, and Irma has a fantastic vocal range that fits perfectly with these musical styles. We were very far away from the stage, but her strong voice carried across the crowd and had us up and grooving at times. We enjoyed this set very much. But we were so far away that pictures were not worth it.
Stevie Wonder I saw Stevie a few years back, and he was fantastic. When we saw that he would be closing out Saturday night at JF, we changed our plans to make sure that we were around to catch his set. I’m a huge fan – SW is a national treasure in my opinion – and was psyched to see him again. Was he good? Oh yes. Was he great? Oh no! First the good: Stevie played hit after hit, picking the songs that everyone knew and that got the crowd up and moving. That part was good. But now the bad: Stevie felt obliged to tell us, over and over for many minutes, how he loved everyone. Yeah, we love you, too, man. And then he also felt obliged to tell us not to be divisive, to get along with one another, etc. Dude, look around you: a huge crowd was doing just that. And if you don’t want hackles being raised, do what you were paid to do – play music. Yes, we enjoyed this set, but no, we don’t need any more preaching and Stevie broke the JF rule of going out and playing music without the crapola.
That was it for me and JF 2017. We saw a lot of bands, met a lot of cool and interesting people, ate some great food, and luckily enjoyed good weather. I’ll be back one last time with my JF/festival thoughts, and then we’ll move on to other things. Like what? Well, today I’m going to shift gears a little bit, leave the horns/roots music behind, and go to see Metallica at MetLife Stadium. It violates my “no stadium” rule for live music, but I guess that’s more of a guideline than a rule. Regardless, I’ll be sure to write that up. And then it’s back to Philly’s own Electric Factory for a show by the Pixies. Yes, my musical tastes are all over the map. Indulge me, ok? And like Stevie said, I love all of you. But I’m only going to say it once.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.