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SoulFest 2012 Kicks Off Festival Season

SoulFest 2012 Kicks Off Festival Season
In Style featuring Local Artists

   Audubon Institute's 2012 version of Soulfest started the festival season in high style with some of the best music that New Orleans has to offer and really good food, as well.

Over the years I've watched this festival go through several variations, but over the last couple of years it has focused on classic R&B and New Orleans style (danceable) Jazz music featuring home grown talent and it has created an audience niche that is perfectly aligned with the Zoo itself, parents and grandparents with children. I love it. Once when it had begun to draw too many too hype unaccompanied youngsters who were drawn by a “national” recording artist, or hip hopper, I expressed my frustration, “Man can't grown folk have something nice?” Seems I was on the same page with somebody.

I was told by a good friend, who hates to miss anything, that Saturday was a cool, damp and windy experience and very few people came. She did mention that one of our favorites Erica Falls did much justice in her vocal tributes to Etta James and Whitney Houston, and I'm sure that was probably almost worth bad weather, but no I don't do bad weather too well... well maybe if it's Jazz Fest... Stevie Wonder and I already paid for my tickets... Maybe that's why they do it that way.

 Boo and I woke up Sunday with Soulfest and perfect weather on our mind, keen with anticipation of the start of what has become festival season, spring in the Crescent City. We always try to go early, but between a movie being shot on the Crescent City Connection bridge and me having to go back for a camera we didn't get there until the Crescent City Connections took the stage. They were really good, one of those Juke Box bands that could probably play anything you asked for and make you move your feet.

Up next was one of my favorite performers, Michael “Soulman” Baptiste who always brings the heat. and great musicians. Michael does music made famous by Bobby Womack, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave... This guy gives every performance everything he has and it is always appreciated, as it was Sunday. He drew a crowd around the stage because you need to see as well as hear his performance, and you really do enjoy the visual attitude Mike brings including a costume change mid show because he's perspired through the old one.

The one thing you know when Gina Brown takes the stage is that somebody is about to get up and dance. Gina is one hell of a vocalist, can sing virtually anything, but when she gets into her party blues groove she always connects. I think part of the reason is that Gina has groupies... some line dance enthusiasts who can't wait for her to start that G-Slide thing which usually upsets me because I don't line dance... and her groupies don't ever want to stop... and I'm wanting to dance with my Boo whois up there doing the G-slide. Life can be challenging.

And then I'm just amazed as Irvin Mayfield steps on stage with four other New Orleans great horn players. The incomparable James Rivers pulled out the Tenor Sax and was the elder statesman of this super star horn line, James Andrews stood next to him with his trumpet. Wendell Brunious made the third trumpet and the baby of the group Glen Andrews was on trombone. I love it when artist of this caliber take the stage, each skilled and confident and because of that not competitive, but complementary and making music that was special and unique to that aggregation, that day, that place and that audience.

I understand that Walmart sponsored the entertainment, so thanks to Walmart for that, thank you Audubon Institute for the commitment and a great space, and hats off the Bright Moments, Inc. who have produced the show, from the beginning no matter what they called SoulFest at the time.