Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Radiators jam on a set of pre-war blues at Jazz Fest

By Alison Fensterstock

The Radiators at the New Orleans Jazz Fest

The Rads' Jazz Fest set today, titled "The Radiators Pre-War Blues," was a recreation of a recent Tipitina's blowout called the Radz Bluz Weekend. Drawing on the band's sizable repertoire of classic blues, they played two nights on Napoleon Avenue this past October as a benefit for the Tip's Foundation; one night dedicated to blues songs from before World War II, the other night to those recorded after.

At the Fest today, obviously, they chose to re-enact the pre-war set, but - anachronistic as it may have been - acoustic it was not. It salved the wound of missing Allen Toussaint's guest spot during Levon Helm's set quite a bit to see Ed Volker pound his electric piano during the traditional "Delia's Gone" - with the crowd dancing and spinning in the aisles, the set brought to mind Grateful Dead shows of yore (emphasis on the Dead's "American Beauty" - style blues-rock, not so much the spacey noodling.) Guitarist Camile Baudoin's fingers flew over a wild solo during an electrified, stomping closing cover of Blind Willie Johnson's "Let Your Light Shine On Me."

Ed Volker is a huge collector of vintage blues, and bassist Reggie Scanlan has done his time backing classic blues artists on California's chitlin circuit years ago, but this set was, happily, all the way Rad-icalize

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