The Best of iFest's Second Weekend: Aaron Neville, Sergent Garcia, Grupo Fantasma, etc.
Photos by Jody Perry
After four certified platinum albums and a few Grammys, Aaron Neville -- now 72 -- would have had every right to hang it all up years ago. Instead, to the delight of fans, the New Orleans soul singer found himself performing at iFest this weekend in support of his fourteenth studio album, My True Story, his first release in seven years.
Clad in a white button-down, blue jeans and with a beige fedora atop his head, Neville closed down the World Music Stage early Sunday evening, crooning to the horde of listeners that had gathered to hear and see the legend for themselves, eventually getting everyone to snap their fingers and dance along. He performed plenty of his own songs, including "Hercules," "Don't Go, Please Stay" and True Story's title track, peppering his set with renowned classics such as Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and Ben E. King's "Stand By Me."
If Sunday's performance was any indication, Neville's still got soul to spare, and he won't be slowing down anytime soon. MATTHEW KEEVER
Rob Curto & Matuto
Houston music fans got their first major exposure to forro, one of the reigning Brazilian rhythms now being popularized in America, during the festival's first weekend, via the manic musical artistry of Forro in the Dark. Saturday the second lesson, a sort of forro in the rain, came courtesy of a water-soaked but uniformly wonderful set by accordionist Rob Curto and his New York band Matuto. The group played Sunday under sunny skies, but the Saturday-afternoon show on the Bud Light World Music Stage, which had fans, with and without umbrellas, dancing blissfully in the rain, was a quintessential outdoor festival experience.
The sound of Matuto is at once more traditional, due to the lead role of Curto's accordion, and yet more eclectic, due to the fusion of additional musical styles, such as overt bluegrass quotes, than many of the other bands working in the forro genre. The fans probably didn't know about such technicalities and they certainly didn't care as long as the band, featuring superlative guitar stylings by Clay Ross, kept the music coming amidst the claps of thunder and the ever-increasing rain. MICHAEL POINT