Saturday, July 2, 2016

Jazz Fest 2016, Day 8: Frank reviews Curtis Stigers, Gregg Allman, and Los Lonely Boys

Posted By on Sat, Jul 2, 2016 at 4:00 AM

click to enlarge Curtis Stigers performed in Kilbourn Hall Friday night. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • Curtis Stigers performed in Kilbourn Hall Friday night.

Well a wop bopa loo bop a wop bam boom. No sooner did I send up the Bat Signal for some scat then Curtis Stigers rolls into town delivering a mouthful of syllabic sensations. Suave ain't the word; it doesn't do the man justice.

Stigers hit the stage with so much cocksure swagger it was as if he were the missing member of the Rat Pack. This silver-haired cat and his band (including homeboy, Bob Sneider on the guitar) came out swinging like Jake LaMotta with a case of the fleas. He wound the Kilbourn crowd up good and tight with a singing style you could describe as velvety vocal-ease. His band pumped and swung as tight as his suit.

He took time to dedicate Randy Newman's "Living Without You" to the late, great jazz pianist and bon vivant Paul Tillotson. It caught me off guard, and I got teary: Tillotson, who appeared at the Jazz Fest some years back, was a good friend to me and especially my wife. Stigers was visually teared up as well before getting back in the swing of things. But it was a gesture and a tender moment I won't soon forget.

The crowd won't soon forget the way he switched off effortlessly from swingin' on the sax to singin' to the max. Curtis Stigers, the ultimate smooth operator. Total class. Goddamn.

More magic on a Friday night followed with Gregg Allman and his band with an amazing set of classic -- timeless, really -- blues-based rock 'n' roll. Allman's band? Amazing. Allman himself? The voice is still there as he tore through an hour and a half set.

click to enlarge Gregg Allman performed a headliner show at Kodak Hall on Friday. - PHOTO BY FRANK DE BLASE
  • Gregg Allman performed a headliner show at Kodak Hall on Friday.

There was a beautiful rendition of "Sweet Melissa," a soulful take on "Midnight Rider," a rockin' sing-along to "One Way Out," and a barely recognizable re-working of "Whipping Post." Allman, who split time between the B3 and guitar, was a casual yet charming host with all eyes riveted on him, was a thrill to see. However my pick for MVP is definitely his guitarist and musical director, Scott Sharrard. Sharrardsh-redded with feeling and soul and frankly blew me away...

... just like the speakers did at the Los Lonely Boys set outside. You probably couldn't have seen them from space, but you could certainly hear them. They played with a vicious Texican attack to a crowd of thousands and thousands. I dug it for as long as I could, but I split after the subwoofers threatened to give me an involuntary colon cleanse.

Saturday night I get my fill of Tia Fuller, before walking off the edge with Flat Earth Society.

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