The first installment of Civic Theatre’s late night Jazz Fest series was an explosive one. Renowned, eclectic jam band, moe., graced the venue with two fantastic nights of back-to-back performances with the funkadelic Turkuaz. After a show at Le Petit Theatre that yielded an historic 40-minute live version of “Rebubula” into “Four” back into “Rebubula,” moe. kept up the heat on the following Friday and Saturday.
As most Jazz-Festians know, music continues on throughout the night in the city long after the final act of any given day. Venues around town host stacked shows each weekend, ensuring that there is never a dull moment in New Orleans. Brooklyn-based jam legends moe. saw this as a perfect opportunity for a party. They traveled down with fellow Brooklynites, Turkuaz, for their double run at the Civic, bringing a few surprises to the table as well.
Turkuaz opened the shows at about 9:30 both nights with some of the funkiest funk, worthy indeed of NOLA’s reputation for the groove. They are a nine-piece that all dress in colorful garb, each member representing a solid color, including black and white. With a horn section as well as a gorgeous pair of female back-up vocalists, Turkuaz really brought out the dancer in everyone who attended. They perfectly warmed up the audience each evening before what turned out to be an extraordinary two-night session with moe.
moe. is has a unique sound that tickles every part of your emotions, save for maybe anger. Their core style is a bluesy progressive rock that dabbles in a bit of country, but the most notable element is a touch of tropical party, almost islander vibes. Like Jimmy Buffet, but much, much classier. moe. is also known for their inclination to jam, or extend their tunes live into excursions of sound and improvised music. All these elements together created a wildly satisfying Jazz Fest late night concoction. But this was no ordinary live moe. experience.
Friday night, during the first set, moe. blasted out an amazing version of “Brent Black” into “Bring it Back Home” into “Blue Jeans Pizza”, and then “Puebla” which went back into “Brent Black.” And if that wasn’t enough to awe the crowd, they brought out the big guns, or horns, for the second set. For the final song, sax player Greg Sanderson of Turkuaz joined in for a cover of “Can’t you Hear Me Knocking” by the Rolling Stones which went into their original song, “McBain.” For the encore, this collaboration inevitably evolved into a full-band fusion of moe. and Turkuaz, which was referred to as “moe.kuaz.” moe.kuaz took advantage of their new horn and vocal sections, finishing the first night with glorious jams of “Soul Man” by the Blues Brothers, “Ophelia” by the Band, and “Life During Wartime” by the Talking Heads. Jams that would have knocked the socks off of even a casual listener.
The second night was even more spectacular, not losing any heat from the previous evening. After Turkuaz, moe. opened with more of their own classics including “Akimbo” and “meat.,” but the jams got hot much quicker this time. For the final song of the first set, moe. welcomed the entire Turkuaz crew onstage to help them perform Kool and the Gang’s monster hit “Jungle Boogie,” a perfect fit for our exotic town. The hits kept coming with more goodness from moe. during the second set including an out-of-this-world cover of Frank Zappa’s “Cosmik Debris,” inescapably followed by more moe.kuaz. Both bands squeezed together onstage to play moe.’s “Recreational Chemistry,” which had in store yet another surprise. Unannounced, punk rock percussion guru and NOLA resident, Mike Dillon, took the stage with moe.’s Jim Loughlin for an intense xylophone and vibraphone battle. The audience was thrilled to see them whirl around each other, laughing and smiling as they blew minds with precision. For the encore, the crowd was again overjoyed with more moe.kuaz covers, including Paul Simon’s “Late in the Evening” and the final song of the two-night run, a firey-hot performance of the Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House.” Cheesey phrasing aside, it was the perfect end cap to a marvelous double late night Jazz Fest moe.down, and burn down the house, they did.
Live for Live Music generously recorded the whole experience and provided videos of the highlights: