062315 Dirty Dozen Brass Band with The Blind Boys of Alabama, Ottawa, ON

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The 2015 Ottawa jazz festival was stacked pretty high with big name entertainers; Huey Lewis and the News, Steve Miller, War, Bruce Cockburn, and the Joel Plaskett Emergency to name just a few.  Of course none of those names are big in the jazz world but that’s not to say there wasn’t some excellent jazz programming at the fest that year, ‘cuz there was.  I won’t trouble you (or me) with compiling a list, but for sure the biggest of the names that would be on that list (had I gone to the trouble) would be Brantford Marsalis, and for some reason his June 23rd booking was a pair of concerts indoors in the NAC Studio.  Next to the 4th Stage this was the smallest venue at the jazz festival and even though he played a 7pm show and a 9pm show I still found it odd that they put their heaviest hitter in one of their smallest venues.  Surely the Gold Circle pass holders would eat up all the seats in such a limited room.

At least that was the logic that played into my decision to go to the outdoor mainstage instead.  But really, I’ve seen Brantford before and though he was great the show wasn’t heavily engaging.  Plus, the mainstage was offering something rather interesting to a lover of the music of the American South such as I (and yes, I realize that the Marsalis clan are undisputed royalty in and around New Orleans).  Actually it was a pair of interesting somethings on the mainstage, an exponential factor that made the billing at least triply interesting: NOLA staples the Dirty Dozen Brass Band performing with The Blind Boys of Alabama.  

Sounds pretty good huh?  It was.

They played together, they played separately, they made me dance, they made me gape in awe.  They conjured up Bourbon Street and old country roads, gnarled forests growing out of the bayou and balconies with elaborate iron railings that run for the entire block.  Oh, how that kind of music gets the $6 beers a-flowing!  I went back-and-forth so much I dug a trench between the beer vendor and my spot underneath the big jazz tree.  It would have felt just like being back in Louisiana except all my friends were there too.  Or a bunch of them anyways, and all of them were people I pretty much never see in the South.

And so it is that I find it wholly unnecessary to lick my wounds for not seeing the great Brantford Marsalis on this night, for voodoo was my salve.  Though I would like to see him again sometime.

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