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Concert Review: Bayou Bash a Defiant and Hopeful Answer to Tragedy

Fall Festival Presents a Variety of New Orleans Musicians

By Natania Antler

Bayou Bash

Featuring The Wild Magnolias

Kresge Auditorium

Sunday, Oct. 30, 2005, 8 p.m.

If the spectacle of a Louisiana band doing a New Orleans style procession down the Infinite Corridor wasn’t enough to get students interested in Bayou Bash this weekend, I don’t know what would have been. While the parade was destined for a concert outside the Stata Center on Friday, the band came back for an encore at the Bayou Bash concert this Sunday. A long-lasting, vibrant, and touching affair, this concert was well done. MIT organizers put on the concert both to provide a venue for displaced New Orleans musicians and to raise money for the New Orleans Children’s Hospital and a Mississippi high school’s music program. Despite the concert taking place on a Sunday night at MIT, they managed to raise just under $2000.

Audience members were greeted with great energy by the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble as they filtered in to Kresge Auditorium. Then Cindy X. Yuan, the student organizing committee chair, gave a brief welcome and introduced Glenn Gaines, the host of the night. Next, the Wild Magnolias really got things started with a blend of swinging jazz rock and roll. Their rousing third song, “Head Pop Away” managed to get members of the initially reluctant audience on their feet and dancing.

Their performance was characterized by June Yamagishi’s stellar electric guitar, which was played in a style reminiscent of Santana. He played for most of the evening and was amazingly flexible in fitting with the many different styles of music. Although some of the vocals by percussionist Norwood “Geechie” Johnson were drowned out for this set, the next singer, Davell Crawford, could be clearly heard singing and playing the piano, despite some microphone trouble during his first song. Crawford’s rendition of Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927,” a song about the flood of the Mississippi River, given added poignancy by the Katrina disaster, was powerful and sincere.

As the Wild Magnolias and Crawford remained on stage, out came Donald Harrison, who added his practiced saxophone playing to the mix. He brought out his nephew Christian Scott on the trumpet, and Louis D. Fouche ’07, an MIT student and concert organizer, on the saxophone. Both delivered awesome solos. Next in was Benny Turner — tall in a black suit and hat — emanating cool and experience with his blues guitar and singing.

When Marva Wright came onto the stage, it was clear that the whole crew of artists was having a blast and happy to play with one another again. She had a magnetic stage presence and warm singing. Her jazzy encore of “I Will Survive,” when coupled with a description of her loss during the hurricane, was a defiant statement.

Next to take the stage was Rockin Doopsie Turner, whose washboard playing and dancing skills warmed up the house. He ordered the whole audience on their feet, and with people dancing, colored necklaces and music, it started feeling like Mardi Gras had truly come to MIT. The Stooges Brass Band, which had been seen earlier marching down the Infinite, came out again and finally Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias, joined by most of the artists who had been performing earlier, wrapped things up.

All in all this concert gave the audience a sense of New Orleans-style music, raised awareness about the plight of hurricane battered Louisiana, and also brought a sense of hope to all concerned, making it quite a success.