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By Kim "Two-Dat" Welsh

Mike Morgan and The Crawl – Stronger Every Day – Severn, 2008
At the recent Voodoo Experience, the air was full of magic, even if I was old enough to be most of the festival goers' mother. Voodoo is a three day music and arts fest that has occurred in New Orleans on the weekend of or previous to Halloween since 1999. It is known for blending high profile national artists of all genres favored by the “under 30 crowd” of fellow fest junkies with local Louisiana musicians that cater to all ages. Ok, I had never even heard of half of the performers this year but being open-minded and curious, I decided to give it a shot. All but a few were quite palatable and quite possibly better than some of the noise I liked in the days of my misspent youth. I have finally come to accept as truth what my father told me back then, “If you can’t whistle or hum it, then it’s not a song.” I didn’t understand his wisdom then; I do now.

Ozzy Osbourne made the announcement on Entercom radio stations around the country that he would kick off his U.S. Tour at Voodoo over Halloween weekend. It was his first show in New Orleans since 2001. Joining Ozzy were Muse, Weezer, My Morning Jacket, Drake, MGMT, Metric, Interpol and many more. I must admit that I was a Black Sabbath fan "back in the day" and my parent's console used to rattle pictures off the wall when they weren't there with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, Aqualung, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, and the Beatles. I also must admit that was a long time ago and Ozzy no longer charms me. I tried to listen to his set, but after one song, I was ready to push my way out of the young crowd and head for a Halloween party thrown by a local Voodoo priestess. I am impressed with his longevity though and kudos to Sharon Osbourne who must be a marketing genius to have ridden this brain-dead, tired pony so long.

One of my favorite acts was the Preservation Hall Jazz Band who second-lined through the crowd just three days after their beloved bassist, Walter Payton, passed on to that great fest in the heavens. The crowd followed along, dancing and waving their umbrellas and handkerchiefs. As Lolis Eric Ellie eloquently stated, "There is much that is great and wonderful and exceptional about New Orleans, but nothing is more impressive than the fact that the richest elements of this city's culture are participatory." Indeed...

Another band I never heard of but was delighted by is Blackberry Smoke. An Atlanta southern rock band who write nice lyrics to their three chords and a cloud of smoke driving style that is reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the like, long hair and all. They may be too young to remember firsthand the visceral bite of early Lynyrd Skynyrd, the moody excellence of the Marshall Tucker Band and the gritty Blues of the first three ZZ Top albums, but they do a pretty decent job of channeling the era without slipping into the faceless arena of Country Pop that shares little with Southern Rock outside of a decibel level. Give 'em a listen!

March Fourth Marching Band are a technicolor three-ring circus complete with amazing stilt-walkers from Portland. Not the nerdy marching band we are all familiar with... they look like bohemian pirates who raided a band uniform store followed by stilted fire-spinners with sequined dancing girls hanging off of them! They must have at least fifteen musicians and an eclectic circus style entourage who mix with the crowd and seize the moment. Imagine Duke Ellington meets Sgt. Pepper in an international big-top Fantasia. Their music is a mash-up of big band, jazz, ska, Eastern European folk, gypsy brass, samba, funk, afro-beat, and other styles...you've just got to hear and see them to believe them!

There's a fest every weekend these days here, the weather is beautiful, and I have a little extra skip in my step. Gettin' my fix and hope you enjoy the photos!

Not just blues anymore! STLBlues.net is branching out! Congo Rhythms and Fiesta Latino are up next!
“You're gonna find heaven right here on earth...
Way down yonder in New Orleans.”
— Louis Armstrong

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