Jazz Fest 2019, Day 2: Frank reviews Steven Taetz, Patti LaBelle, and Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes


My Saturday night was a tale of three singers.

During early set from Steven Taetz at Max of Eastman Place, the Toronto-based singer sang and rang like a veritable bell. His tone was pristine and clear as he wove in and out his set of originals and American Songbook classics.

Patti LaBelle has vocal range for days and can hit notes dogs don’t even know existed. But she totally overdid it at Kodak Hall last night. The soaring, skull-piercing notes began to grate on my ear and took on the life of a siren — not the kind that lure sailors to a watery grave — but that of a four-alarm fire. She tagged them on virtually every line. Sure it’s impressive, but it was clearly overdone. Her band was vicious and delicious, and played so in-the-pocket that they were covered in lint by the show’s ”Lady Marmalade” end.

                                                                                                                                                                PHOTO BY MARTIN KAUFMAN

The third singer I encountered last night — and the best, by my account anyway — was blue-eyed soul singer Southside Johnny, with his band, The Asbury Jukes. Johnny sings as if he’s truly heartbroken. I could hear him choke back the tears as The Asbury Jukes made it all better in front of a huge crowd.

Mom got to meet Jake “Jeff-as-she-still-insists-on-calling-him” Shimabukuro, which made her night. Come to think of it, it made mine, too.

After my jazz festival junket, I stopped down to Abilene Bar and Lounge to decompress and dig Toronto’s surf-a-go-go quartet The Surfrajettes. The scene was spilling out at the sides, and the arrival of summer finally announced the arrival of less clothes and cold beer. T’was sweet and sweaty.

Tomorrow, you can catch me as I catch Stefon Harris and Blackout at Kilbourn Hall, Over The Rhine at Geva Theatre Center’s Wilson Stage, and Michael Winograd & the Honorable Mentshn in the Big Tent. F out.