The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience opened its three days at City Park on Friday with a sunny, warm, breezy day that’s likely to be the annual Halloween-timed festival’s best weather of the weekend.
Rain is forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Voodoo Experience is a rain or shine event.
Friday morning, the roots-eclectic, local St. Cecilia’s Asylum Chorus, featuring all of eight singers, didn’t let the handful of people who witnessed their late morning, first show of the day at the Flambeau Stage dampen their excitement about doing Voodoo.
“Thank you for rocking with us this morning!” Sybil Shanell said after a performance of the gospel-fueled “Bottom of the River.”
St. Cecilia’s Asylum Chorus, originally formed by singer-keyboardist Lucas Davenport for a one-off gig at Preservation Hall, performed a 14-song, mostly original music set.
“See-Line Woman,” a non-original selection best known via Nina Simone’s hypnotic 1964 recording of this American folk song, showed where the St. Cecilia’s Asylum Chorus is coming from: Folk, gospel, classic R&B and funk. So did another of the group’s Friday’s selections, a spirited rendition of Levon Helm’s pre-Americana roots-rock song, “When I Go Away.”
Every vocalist in the group took a turn or two at singing lead. St. Cecilia’s Asylum Chorus’ arrangements, too, offer elaborate ensemble and supporting vocals.