At 11:20 a.m., the audience at Acura Stage was loose but covered the expanse of the Acura Stage in anticipation of Sugarland. If Jazz Fest booked country on Saturday when people could travel from across the Gulf South more easily, I suspect everybody would be surprised by the numbers country bands can generate. Sugarland and Keith Urban (two years ago) packed it on a work day.
My day started and ended with Sugarland. I interviewed them at the Music Heritage Stage at 1:15, then saw their closing set. The interview brought me face-to-face with the charming intensity of country fans. Two women threw Kristian Bush homemade T-shirts commemorating Sugarland’s Jazz Fest show, and when I called for questions from the audience, the line at the microphone was 10-plus people long, all of whom wanted have their theories about the music confirmed or have Bush know how much the band’s music meant to them. Later at the show, even the people farthest from the stage were singing along or mouthing the words – always a sign of how a band connects for me. They could be corny – the wigs Jennifer Nettles and Annie Clements wore during the encore cover of “Love Shack” – but I take seriously and appreciate any band with the pop aspirations to be big, the ability to then be big, and the discipline to pare the frills out of their songs until everything exists to support the singer delivering a lyric.
The nuttiest interaction between New Orleans and Sugarland didn’t come from area fans, Annie Clements or Travis McNabb. The band invited Mardi Gras Indians onstage for “That’s How I Like It,” and afterward Nettles and Bush posed for a photo with the Indians. One angled for the camera with little awareness of protocol or celebrity and obscured Nettles completely.
Twangorama opened with a quote from the National Anthem then segued into Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” which seemed oddly appropriate.
Saw part of Doc Watson then Esperanza Spalding. Liked both but nothing stuck.
Chris Owens’ interview was a visit to the glamor of the days of yore. Walter Winchell, Xavier Cugat, Rita Hayworth and a number of former mayors all played a part in her interview, leaving listeners to speculate on her age. Even if you estimate it generously, you still have to be impressed how little she shows the effects of aging in her gait, her movement and her mental acuity. While interviewer Peggy Scott Laborde was too discreet to ask Owens her age, she did ask her what her measurements are: 37-25-37.
Last night, the Continental Drifters played a lengthy reunion show at Carrollton Station. Things got a little loose in the second set, but the good-natured fun was something the Drifters rarely had onstage around the time of Better Day. Hopefully, that means we won’t have to wait another 8 years for another show.