James Burton, guitar sidekick of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, brought one of his internationally known guitar performances to the annual Natchitoches Jazz Festival as a guest of Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs. Burton has backed some of the world's great musicians, having been on stage with Frank Sinatra, Keith Richards, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Willie Nelson and Elvis. Burton, a major player in the music industry, was surrounded by a diverse cluster of musicians who performed for a large, appreciative crowd on Friday night and throughout Saturday into the late evening this past weekend.
Burton plays great guitar but doesn't sing. His son, Jeff, however, sings with intensity and quality moves, while accompanying himself on the guitar. Put Jeff and James together, and the hot combo could make history, according to those fans who heard them play with the Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs group on Saturday, center stage.
This year Natchitoches festival attendees also enjoyed "The Jimmy Bluffet Show" which featured a young artist and band who offered their musical tribute to Jimmy Buffet. Audience members could be heard whispering that if they closed their eyes they would not have been able to tell the difference between the real Buffet and Lee Wilder who performed some of the top songs made famous by the "real deal." The strains of Margaritaville descended on Natchitoches, Louisiana, Jimmy Buffet-like, transforming the small Southern town in the imaginations to that Florida and Caribbean setting as the music made its magic.
The Moondogs of Natchitoches made music of their own that captivated the audience, as it usually does, with the full abandon of "Johnny Earthquake," leader of the band when it's time for jazz and a local attorney when the music stops. This group is a "must hear" around north central Louisiana, according to their many fans.
LeRoux, the group made famous by the song "New Orleans Ladies" headlined the jazz festival, as the final band on the main stage on Saturday night. Their performers, including Lean Medica, Jim Odon, Randy Carpenter, Keith Landry, Nelson Blanchard, Rod Roddy, Mark Duthu and T6onmy Haselden, may be in that aging process that can interrupt, or even end, performing. But these mature voices and instrumental performances were strong and entirely capable as they offered songs familiar to the old-timers of Louisiana. "New Orleans Ladies" was voted Song of the Year by Louisiana's Music Hall of Fame, which is no mean feat in an area known for great music.
Hardrick Rivers Revue stood out for entertainment on Friday night, while the bulk of those Natchitoches All Stars who ordinarily perform with Rivers took over with Doc Couty on Saturday to entertain with some of the old rock and roll tunes familiar to connoisseurs of rock and roll. The audience applauded loudly these local fellows as the never-fail group of the festival. They included Doc Couty (guitar/vocals), Jim Toney (guitar), John Jackson (trumpet), Chad Barnhill (saxophone), Waylon Salter (guitar/vocals), Roy Cagle (keyboards/vocals), Pop Hymes (drums), John Litzenberg (bass/vocals).
Now imagine yourself listening to "Blueberry Hill" that Fats Domino made famous while either lying on a dock in the warm sunshine or feeding the ducks along a riverbank, and you will know why people come from all over the State of Louisiana and surrounding areas to enjoy the Natchitoches Jazz Festival every year.