The Greyboy Allstars Take Over the Night With an Ode to the King of Pop
This past weekend was the first of two in the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, more commonly labeled as just Jazzfest. The festival boasts seven full days of world-renowned music over the course of two weekends with local foods and arts to indulge in all along the way. However, in many cases the true gems of the festival happenings are not found in the gates of the fairgrounds but out in the city amid the scattered acts that play seemingly nonstop over the two week span in nearly any venue with a space to host an act.
Local musicians and visiting acts alike take these opportunities to play in all-star lineups and side projects where they can just lets their spirits loose and get groovy with late night jamming. So when the Jazzfest veterans The Greyboy Allstars were slotted for a late night slot at Tipitina’s with the promises of playing the music of Michael Jackson, the tough decision of what not to miss became a bit clearer.
The Grayboy Allstars’ Still Waiting
Led by saxophonist and flautist Karl Denson, the Greyboy Allstars are comprised of Robert Walter on the keys, Aaron Redfield on Drums, Chris Stillwell on Bass, and Elgin Park on Guitar. The band is known for playing stellar music and creating quality albums under the guise of a smooth and silky jazz group that uses eerie and blending influences to create its warm and loungy sound. Individually, the members of the allstar group were featured throughout a number of sets and shows all over the city, teaming up with all different musicians to live up to the weekend’s motif of togetherness and music love. With Michael Jackson’s catalog ranging from the most accessible pop to some classic Motown funk, the way in which the band was to interpret these tracks was intriguing.
The show sold out to a full room that piled in for a set that started just after 2:30 in the morning. Eager fans were highly anticipating a long night of dancing to Michael Jackson and the band delivered to fill those desires. The first set was very patient. The band explored some unique renditions of the King’s tracks, not covering them in a funky way, but more of a truly jazzy body. Mixed in with some of the band’s original tunes, the first set was a good way to ease into a long night but did not deliver that funky punch that many were looking forward to. Then came the second set. The band started with “Rock With You” which fittingly included the lyrics of rocking all night as everyone in attendance would be. This was when the night started to gain the most energy as the truly devout people fighting the exhaustion of enduring the action packed weekend were tapping out to enjoy this one last party before the dreaded following work night.
The Greyboy Allstars played until the brink of sunrise with some peppering of Jackson tunes throughout. Overall, the show was enjoyable in terms of Jazzfest but did not fully live up to the bill. Promising a set where it was lead to believe exclusively Michael Jackson’s songs would be played in tribute to the late star, Greyboy seemed to just play a couple of covers then transgressed into their usual show. This is not to say the quality of music was not potent and tasty, but more so the special evening could have had a different mood or approach. Not to worry. Because in a few days, the second weekend of Jazz Fest will be in full swing to satisfy that crave of soulful jazz that Greyboy delivered.
Written by Dan Goodman
OurVinyl | Senior Writer