The first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage came to a close Sunday night with a performance by The Allman Brothers Band on the festival’s main Acura Stage. The group opened its set with “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’” and name-checked New Orleans during “Blind Willie McTell.” Allman Brothers Band drummer Jaimoe also got into the spirit by wearing Mardi Gras beads throughout his 15-song performance. The rest of the band’s set focused on the classics like “Statesboro Blues,” “Whipping Post,” “Melissa” and “Midnight Rider.” Gregg Allman also invited out the saxophonist from his solo band, Jay Collins, for a take on Warren Haynes’ “Soulshine.” Collins was at JazzFest to perform with Levon Helm’s band. Like his other shows this weekend, Derek Trucks performed sitting on a stage speaker after injuring his leg playing basketball.
Immediately before the Allman Brothers Band’s set, Levon Helm performed on the Acura Stage. Like most of his recent shows and barn ‘rambles,’ Helm’s band featured guitarists Larry Campbell and Jim Weider, singers Amy Helm and Teresa Williams, bassist Byron Isaacs, keyboardist Brian Mitchell and a full horn section ( Jay Collins, Erik Lawrence, Howard Johnson, Steven Bernstein, Clark Gayton). Helm also invited a parade of New Orleans musicians onto the stage throughout his afternoon set, including Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Ivan Neville and Galactic’s Stanton Moore. Dr. John appeared on Such a Night, the same song he played with The Band during 1976 show documented on The Last Waltz, and Toussaint, who worked on The Band’s Cohoots album, offered his own “A Certain Girl.” Neville and Moore augmented Helm’s big band for much of its set, including the sing-along finale “The Weight.” Though he struggled with vocal problems last summer, Helm’s voice has recovered and he sang on several songs Sunday afternoon.
Other highlights festival grounds highlights included a set of Pre-War blues songs by the Radiators, a reworked version of “Lie to Me” by former child guitar prodigy Jonny Lang and Voice of the Wetlands All Stars, an ensemble featuring Tab Benoit Cyril Neville, gris-gris pianist Dr. John, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, George Porter Jr., fiddler Waylon Thibodeaux, Johnny Vidacovich, Anders Osborne and Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone. In addition, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James sat in with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for his contributions to the Preserved benefit album, “Louisiana Fairytale” and “St. James Infirmary.” He also showed his respect for the band by dressing in the group’s trademark suits.