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Jazz Fest Artists Spotlight: The Reverend and The Boss

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The death of Clarence Clemons last summer was both sad and scary for Bruce Springsteen fans. Obviously, the loss was heartbreaking, but what did it mean to the future of the E Street Band? How would they ever perform “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out”  or any other of their saxophone-centric anthems without him? Or would they? He’s not exactly an easily replaceable figure, and you can’t just plop down any ol’ musician and expect to mimic that magical chemistry of the E Street Band.

Bruce Springsteen New Orleans Jazz Fest

The Boss headlines Jazz Fest on Sunday, April 29. (Photo courtesy of nojazzfest.com)

While we all still mourn Clarence, there’s a certain bittersweet satisfaction in the announcement that the Big Man’s nephew has joined the band. Jake Clemons will share saxophone duties with Eddie “Kingfish” Manion for the world tour, including their show at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival next month.

Yes. Seems only right.

It also seems only right that Jazz Fest is one of a handful of U.S. dates Bruce and the band will play before heading overseas for a world tour to support the newly released album, “Wrecking Ball.” The first single off the album, “We Take Care of Our Own,” references post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, and this will be the Boss’ first appearance in our fair city since he gave that moving and memorable performance at the first Jazz Fest after the storm in 2006.

Even if they can’t recapture the exact same powerful, fraternal energy that comes from decades of touring together, you can’t help but delight in the knowledge that a little piece of Clarence will live on through his nephew’s presence. I, for one, can’t wait to witness it!

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will perform the closing slot on Sunday, April 29. For the full music line up, visit the Jazz Fest site.

Al Green

Al Green New Orleans Jazz Fest

Revered Al Green lends some soul to Jazz Fest 2012 (Photo courtesy of nojazzfest.com)

All politics aside, I wonder if Al Green  has made a contribution to President Obama’s campaign – because Lord knows, those few bars of “Let’s Stay Together”  that he sang at a fundraising event at Harlem’s Apollo Theater in January gave the Reverend’s wallet a huge boost. According to Billboard.com, sales of the song jumped 490%!

Those of us who are longtime fans of Reverend Al Green recognized that as a well-deserved tribute to the legendary soul singer. And, hopefully, it was a musical epiphany for lots of youngsters and newbies.

Both will be thrilled to know that he will be gracing the stage at this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Sunday, April 29.

Sexy, soulful, and spiritual – his music goes right to the essence of Jazz Fest.

This is part of a series covering the artists on the 2012 New Orleans Jazz Festival lineup. Read about all the other awesome Jazz Fest acts we’ve featured.