GP arrived at the 49th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Saturday, May 5—just in time to catch Dumpstaphunk on the Acura Stage. Locally grown—and best known for its dual-bass attack—Dumpstaphunk occasionally becomes an equally funky twin-guitar act when bassist Tony Hall switches to 6-string alongside groove-guru guitarist Ian Neville. Across the Fairgrounds on the Gentilly Stage, the pop-rock Revivalists became a triple-guitar band whenever singer David Shaw played rhythm supporting co-founder Zack Feinberg and pedal-steel ace Ed Williams. Their set was a clinic on how to weave interesting guitar textures into tight song arrangements.
Although some pop or rock artists get somewhat rootsy at Jazz Fest, Aerosmith closed out the night by sticking to its rock and roll guns while running through the band’s greatest hits. Steven Tyler acknowledged Joe Perry by apologizing for “stepping all over your guitar solos,” while Perry responded with a glib, “F**k you!”
Sunday kicked in with Anders Osborne breaking out a few new acoustic tunes, throwing down some serious bottleneck blues on his trusty Stratocaster, and copping some Neil Young-like solos on a Bigsby-equipped Les Paul. On the Congo Stage, the always-colorful local-blues hero Walter “Wolfman” Washington played tunes from his smoldering new album, My Future Is My Past, produced by sax man Ben Ellman from Galactic—which played its always-awesome Jazz Fest set right afterwards. It remains a voodoo mystery how Galactic guitarist Jeff Raines can bust out such booty-shakin’ guitar riffs while barely appearing to move a muscle.
Jack White’s impassioned performance was the highlight that night, and it was very cool to see the dude fire off some unbelievably badass, Whammy-infected and speaker-ripping tones. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue followed, and they hot-rod NOLA funk to such a nasty degree on the strength of guitarist “Freaky Pete” Murano’s power chords and punkish stage presence. Living legend and Louisiana native Buddy Guy literally brought it home in the Blues Tent, where he gave a mini-guitar clinic near the end of his set. Guy performed spot-on imitations of various influences and favorite players, culminating with a tribute to B.B. King, whom Guy referred to as “the greatest guitar player I’ve ever heard in my life.”