Fans packed the Fair Grounds for the final day of the 50th New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and there were salutes galore from John Fogerty, Jimmy Buffett, Irma Thomas and others.
John Fogerty closed the festival on the Gentilly Stage, and played well past the normal 7 p.m. end time (I only caught his last four songs after leaving another stage.). He ripped through an energetic and maybe too-fast version of "The Old Man Down the Road" and then "Fortunate Son" from his Creedence Clearwater Revival days. During "Fortunate Son," a large video screen at the back of the stage showed news footage from the Vietnam War and people protesting the draft. Fogerty didn't comment on that, but to introduce his final two songs, he mentioned that he loved New Orleans. He said he wrote "Bad Moon Rising" about the city. He concluded with "Proud Mary" — he says in his 2015 memoir (titled "Fortunate Son") that he hadn't been to the area when he wrote that, but fans have often asked him if her was born in south Louisiana. Regardless, Rockin' Dopsie Jr. came on stage to play rubboard on the tune, and the crowd loved it.
A set that worked like a nonstop parade of guests was an early afternoon salute to Allen Toussaint on the Acura Stage. The Allen Toussaint Orchestra performed several of his songs before John Boutte came on to sing "Lipstick Traces." Davell Crawford took a seat at the stage's grand piano to play "Sweet Touch of Love," "With You in Mind" and "Last Train." Rita Coolidge, who's provided background vocals for many hits and had one of her own with the James Bond theme "All Time High," came on to sing a slow version of "Shoorah! Shoorah!," a Toussaint song that got a great upbeat R&B/disco treatment form Betty Wright. His early ’60s tune "Fortune Teller" has been covered by many bands (including The Rolling Stones), and Jimmy Buffett came out did a great version. Then Irma Thomas sang "Two Winters Long."
Little Feat's performance on the Gentilly Stage was sedate and often loose. The band played songs including "Oh Atlanta" and "Honest Man," but even "Willin'" lacked energy or excitement and "Dixie Chicken" didn't sound like everyone in the band was on the same page.
In the Blues Tent, CJ Chenier shared that he was performing at his 40th Jazz Fest. Along with his Red Hot Louisiana Band, he mixed popular zydeco tunes and covers of Bob Marley's "Don't Worry 'Bout a Thing" and a fun version of the R&B song "Caldonia."
One of the most enjoyable sets of the day was delivered by The Mavericks at the Fais Do-Do Stage. It sounds like a Tex-Mex country/Latin rock band, but it's out of Miami and now based in Nashville. Raul Malo croons his way through songs about love and broken hearts, including "All Night Long," "Back in Your Arms Again" and "Dance in the Moonlight." With a horn section, accordionist and Jerry Dale McFadden's keyboards, the band keeps audiences grooving, which did Melo no favors when the music slowed down for a couple of ballads. But the Mavericks picked it up with the tune "Be My Guest" and its best-known song, "All You do is Bring Me Down," which it stretched with long solos and horn section jams. The Mavericks closed with The Beatles' "Back in the U.S.S.R."