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Live Reviews

2012 Voodoo Experience: New Orleans, Louisiana, October 26-28, 2012

By Published: December 14, 2012
The first act to grace the Le Ritual main stage on Friday was Y Luv, appearing with lots of beach balls bearing its logo, placed strategically around the instruments. Lead singer, Freddy Janney, sporting an athletic headband and an "I Dream in Color" shirt, led Sam Nardella, Marcello Dubaz and Luke Hanna in the group's first time playing a music festival. The members of Y Luv, hailing from Los Angeles, met at the University of Southern California. The path to Voodoo began when the band submitted a video to the Red Bull Soundstage contest online, and fan support brought them to the status as one of the final five finalists. The group was selected by AWOLNATION to open the festival. The buzz around Y Luv includes its single "Driftin'" that reached number one on the Hype Machine Chart within a week of its release. The song was a huge hit with the Voodoo crowd that grew at the stage while the band played.

The 101 Runners featuring Big Chief Monk Boudreaux dedicated their set to Bo Dollis. They rocked the Preservation Hall Stage with a Mardi Gras Indian-infused set that included a "we-love-the-chief chant" for Dollis (who was laid-up at his home on Louisiana Avenue and unable to attend) and spot-on versions of "Soul, Soul, Soul," "Handa Wanda," "Shoe Fly (Don't Bother Me)," "Hey Pocky Way" and "My Indian Red."

Delta Rae swept the WWOZ Bud Light Tent like a sparkle of Southern sunshine. Formed in North Carolina, this American folk rock band was an instant hit with the hearty crowd that had gathered. Led by ethereal singer Brittany Holljes and her two brothers Ian (on guitar) and Eric (on keyboards), Elizabeth Hopkins providing vocals, Grant Emerson on bass and Mike McKee on drums, Delta Rae was named for a fictional character from the Holljes' mother's imagination of a Southern girl who could summon the Greek gods to earth. Favorites from their debut album Carry The Fire (Sire, 2012) included "Bottom Of The River," "Dance in the Graveyards" (which Ian Holljes invited the crowd to dance along to), as well as "Cold Day in Heaven" and "Whatcha Thinkin' Bout, Baby?"

Thomas Dolby turned back the clock on the SONY stage while somehow managing to keep things firmly in the present with a set that included some old and some new (from 2011's A Map of the Floating City released on the Lost Toy People label). Dolby delighted hardcore and longtime fans with "One Of Our Submarines Is Missing," "Hyperactive," "She Blinded Me With Science," and "I Love You Goodbye" (which was inspired by getting lost on the back roads of Louisiana). Dolby, who is passionate about both his music and the advances made in technology—many of which he, himself, helped pioneer—left his Time Capsule unit at home due to the logistics of bringing the vintage trailer to the festival. In the media tent, when asked about the project, Dolby said, "the idea was that people could sit in it and leave a 30-second message to the future. I'm flying around on this tour and couldn't bring it this time. When I played Tipitina's, we parked it up the street and it got a lot of traffic and attention."

Paul Sanchez and the Rolling Road Show was up next on the Preservation Hall Stage. Featuring the talents of Arsene DeLay, Mary LeSang, Debbie Davis, Shoeless Pashley, Alex McMurray and many others, the Road Show performed high-energy versions of many of the songs from Sanchez and Coleman deKay's Nine Lives (Mystery Street / Threadhead, 2012) song cycle, based on the Dan Baum novel of the same name, that details the lives of nine New Orleanians between 1965 and 2005). The songwriters, along with actor-producer Michael Cerveris, plan to bring the music from album, A Musical Story of New Orleans (Threadhead Records, 2012) to the Broadway stage. The band and special guests brought down the house with tour de force performances of "Where Are the Bodies," "Fine In The Lower Nine," "Full Time Joanne," "Jump Out Boys" and "To Be Continued."

Austin, TX's Gary Clark, Jr. rocked the Le Ritual Stage with his special version of blues-drenched rock and rockin' blues. From the buzz that swirled and emanated from the crowd, it was painfully apparent to all that seeing Clark at this juncture of his career was akin to seeing Springsteen at New York's Bottom Line in 1975—he is set to explode across the musical landscape and become a very big thing in what should be a very short time. Clark then proceeded to stage a guitar clinic during his set which included stellar versions of the title tracks Blak And Blu CD (Warner Brothers, 2012), and the Bright Lights EP (Warner Brothers, 2011).

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