Voodoo Experience 2008 (The Hidden Voodoo), New Orleans, LA
Rhett Miller and The Old 97s ended their tour at Voodoo. Their music is a bit of blues, a touch of rock, some country sprinkled in. Some call it Alt-Country and others call it classic Americana. Touring in support of their latest CD Blame It On Gravity (New West Records, 2008), Miller, bassist Murry Hammond, lead guitarist Ken Bethea and drummer Phillip Peeples delivered one of the best rock shows of the festival. Two stand-out performances were "Roller Skate Skinny" (possibly their most well-known song) and "Question," which Miller dedicated to a recently married friend from New Orleans.
Bonerama is a brass band of a completely different sort. They carry no trumpets or saxophones, but they do feature trombones, sousaphones, one electric guitar and drums. They not only have updated the sound, but they have redefined it. On Saturday, their version of "When The Levee Breaks" was done as if Led Zeppelin arranged it. Since the festival was at the edge of Bayou St. John in New Orleans (an area that experienced flooding after Hurricane Katrina), the presentation was completely surreal.
Immediately following Bonerama on the WWOZ Stage was Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk. Yes, he's one of those Nevilles. His band, moreover, is quite simply the best jazz/funk/rock fusion outfit to emerge from New Orleans since the Meters. Taking the stage at dusk, the band delivered a blistering set which included "Stinky," "Livin' In A World Gone Mad" and "Turn This Thing Around."
Though not appearing on the WWOZ Stage or in the Preservation Hall Tent, New Orleans' own high energy rock outfit, Cowboy Mouth, lit up the Playstation/Billboard.com Stage with their patented balls-to- the-wall Rock 'n Roll. Led by madman drummer/lead vocalist Fred Leblanc and guitarist John Thomas Griffith, the band tore through new songs such as "Fearless," old songs like "Joe Strummer and "Glad To Be Alive" and even older songs like "Jenny Says" and "Everybody Loves Jill." On Sunday, devotees and new fans alike spent the early evening on Sunday dancing and shimmying across the grass as LeBlanc led the worshippers in a religious conversion at the alter of the Church of Fred.
The Voodoo Experience has become a New Orleans institution. In the 10 years since its inception it has played host to a wide-ranging line-up of over 450 performers, including Rage Against The Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies, Dr. John, The Meters, Green Day, 50 Cent and Marilyn Manson. Next October, the 11th Ritual will be in session and if it's half as good as this year's, it'll be fantastic.