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Event Review: John Boutte @ The 2007 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
May 4, 2007
By Matthew S. Robinson
(more articles from this author)
2007-05-28
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Artist: John Boutte
Event: John Boutte @ The 2007 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Genre: Jazz

With the Nevilles nowhere in sight, New Orleans’ other famous singing brother, John Boutte, was left to take care of the vocal duties for ‘Fest. And though his broadly octaved voice was not always able to fill the cavernous, rain-beaten tent that served as his temporary concert hall, he filled the bill expertly.

As fans filed in two by two from the deluge outside, Boutte acted as a musical Noah, calling them all to their salvation with words of Wonder and his own heart and soul. Opening with the highly appropriate jukey jump swing “Didn’t It Rain?” Boutte matched the mood and meteorology of the day while simultaneously taking the tent into a party atmosphere. His bluesy take on Randy Newman’s “Lousiana 1927” was also painfully appropriate, especially with Boutte’s references to injuries of Katrina that elicited funereal tones from his supportive band.

Just like his home town, however, Boutte is not one to stay down, and he set the crowd a-dancing with the musical pep talk “Pick Yourself Up” and an almost a cappella rendition of “A Place in the Sun” that, though mellow, was still hopeful and, as the mood inside and the weather outside began to change with every passing note, again appropriate to the time and place.

After offering a plea for “much more love,” Boutte channeled Anita Baker for another Wonder-ful cover of “Love’s in Need of Love Today” that offered a Latin horn break before jumping up into a syncopated and greatly self-descriptive swing through “Too Marvelous for Words.”

A revival of Arlo Gurthrie’s “City of New Orleans” served as a bluesy letter to the nation that signed off closed with one last dig in the form of Little Stevie’s “You Haven’t Done Nothing.” And as the Jackson Five-hundred “doo-doo-wop”ped their way back out of the tent, the sun came out to welcome them to the rest of another great ‘Fest.

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