Raindrops appeared 20 minutes into an early set by Tommy Malone, not that that stopped him. “I’m playing things twice as fast to beat the rain,” he said.
At the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Presented by Shell Saturday, harsh rain and whipping winds temporarily paused stages and sent crowds into tents in the early afternoon.
But not before Malone, a New Orleans songwriter and co-founder of the subdudes, played a set with his trio at the Gentilly Stage. His slide guitar was prominent throughout the 50-minute set of slow-burning Southern R&B.
Malone has appeared at Jazz Fest over many years in different incarnations, including with his brother Dave Malone of the Radiators. Tommy Malone has released successive solo albums that show a maturing of his songcraft that reflects big questions and sobering truths.
“God Knows,” which he directed to his late mother, was followed by “Word On the Street,” a slow soul he powerfully brought to a whisper.
(Noting that his brother was performing at the opposite end of the festival in the band Raw Oyster Cult, he commended the audience: “Now I know who my true friends are!”)
He also ended his set with a tribute to Johnny Ray Allen, the bassist and songwriter for the subdudes who died last year.
Harmonizing with his bassist and drummer Malone sang “He’s Got You On His Mind,” an Allen original. By that time, the sky broke open and the rain fell hard.