Last Harvest with Toussaint and N.O. Nights

Wednesday was the last concert of the Harvest the Music series.

There’s free music all over town all year round but I will miss the 5 pm concerts until the Wednesday at the Square concerts benefitting the Young Leadership Council resume in March.

I will miss the concerts partly because I like the idea of my money going to a good cause like Second Harvest, partly because the groups chosen were always good and very local. But mostly I’ll miss the after-work, family friendly mix of hippies and yuppies. Not to worry, there’s a festival almost all the time here. LadyFest started yesterday.

First, it should be noted that it was supposed to rain like heck, even lightning, but the day was gorgeous, sunny, breezy and crispy-aired. I put on an iPod and enjoyed my walk into town.

The concert started with Little Freddie King, a 70 year old blues guitarist and snappy dresser. Jimmy Page has got nothing on this guy. Between his sexy jams and his Chuck Berry-esque moves, Little Freddie King is a true showman. He gave a speech, or rather, engaged us in a story, about when his dad “caught” him playing boogie-woogie. His dad warned that no good could come of it. I’m glad Mr. King is the rebellious sort and boogie-woogied on.

With Anthony Anderson on bass, Bobby Lewis on harmonica, and “Wacko” Wade Wright on drums, when the band really jammed, it sounded like a freight train coming right at us. They were definitely one of the highlights of the entire series for me.

During the break, kids came out and threw cups into the crowd, then the Hornets’ Honeybees joined in to toss t-shirts. I, of course, did my part for Second Harvest by eating. Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar had their yummy crab cakes again. I almost said something about the portion, it had shrunk from 4 cakes the first week to 3 a couple weeks ago to 2. I remembered that some local restaurants have managed to keep their prices the same by changing portion sizes as we’ve been forced to deal with BP’s ongoing mess. And then I remembered what it would have cost to buy 2 crab cakes in Los Angeles and walked away happy.

I also had one last bowl of Aunt Linda’s mac and cheese. With the addition of some black pepper, it was even better than the last couple of weeks. $4 for crab cakes + $3 for mac and cheese + $8 for 2 Abita beers = 15 families of 4 eating a meal on me thanks to Second Harvest.

New Orleans Nights took the stage after the break. The band includes 1998  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Allen Toussaint, Grammy winner, Nicholas Payton and the Joe Krown Trio.  The trio consists of Jazz Fest fav, Krown on piano, Walter “Wolfman” Washington on guitar, and Russell Batiste Jr. on drums.

The Trio came out first and played a few songs. Mr. Washington took a seat mid-stage, so I tried to let go of my fantasy of seeing him play with his mouth again. For a reminder of that story and some video:

Mr. Batiste suddenly let loose on his drums, beating them like he was trying to teach them a lesson. It was remarkable. I began to realize that each musician on the stage was barely containing his talent in order to be part of a group. We suffer an embarrassment of musical riches here.

Another drummer came to the stage as well as a bass player who also played the stand-up bass. Nicholas Payton came out with his trumpet and dedicated By My Side to his father, Walter Payton, a jazz bass and sousaphone player who passed last week. The music was mellower, groovier than Little Freddie King’s. One song even had a gospel feel. Payton closed out his moment with I Want to Stay in New Orleans, which brought out the city pride in all of us. Mr. Payton said that his father, Walter, must be smiling. Amen.

Finally, Toussaint joined the growing gang. His music is a bit jazzier and more adult than my taste but the talent is undeniable. Toussaint is responsible for such hits as Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-in-Law,” Dr. John’s “Right Place, Wrong Time” and Glenn Campbell’s “Southern Nights.” Even “Lady Marmalade” and Devo’s “Working in a Coal Mine” are part of the Toussaint songbook, but the evening was mostly jazzy takes on old and new tunes.

When they did finally play one of his covered hits, Southern Nights, I realized that I’d always known that song was too cool and fun to be Glenn Campbell’s alone. Toussaint’s version put the fun in funky and closed out the evening perfectly.

Every dollar donated to Second Harvest provides a meal to a family of 4. To learn more about Second Harvest and how they help the 1 in 8 people who go hungry in Louisiana every day, click:

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Filed under Charity, Concerts, Culture, festival, free events and lagniappe, Local Cuisine, oil spill catastrophe, walking

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