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Norah Jones mesmerizes Oaktopia second night of fest

Norah Jones mesmerizes Oaktopia second night of fest

Norah Jones performs Friday at Oaktopia Fest 2016

Norah Jones mesmerizes Oaktopia second night of fest
September 24
18:00 2016

Friday night was at least a little cooler than it was this past week, and after the sun went down, Oaktopians were eager for the night’s UNT stage headliner Norah Jones.

“I’m stoked to be back in Texas,” Jones said to a cheering crowd during her performance onstage. “It’s hot though, man.”

Jones played in front of several hundred festival goers who were delighted to see the UNT alumna back in the Lone Star state. A world-renowned musician who has played with famous musicians like Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Dolly Parton, Herbie Hancock and more, Jones has sold millions of albums worldwide with her first album in 2002, “Come Away With Me,” selling over 26 million copies alone. Before she began her rise to fame, she attended the University of North Texas, majoring in jazz piano.

A few days before her performance at Oaktopia, Jones was invited as a guest back to UNT to speak to an overloaded performance hall in the main music building about her brief time at the university and her career in music. At the event were members of the student government, music students, faculty, scholars playing hooky and President Neal Smatresk. Closing the panel, Smatresk awarded Jones a presidential medallion, the most prestigious award the president is authorized to give out.

At Oaktopia, the band ran through a few classics off of Jones’s first record, such as “Come Away With Me,” and a couple songs from some more recent records, like “Sinking Soon” off of Jones’s 2007 record “Not Too Late.” Jones also tested the crowd with some new songs that will be coming out on a new record. Her new record, titled “Day Breaks,” will be her sixth solo record and comes out later this year on Oct. 7.

They also played some country takes on some songs, including a cover of Gram Parson’s “Hickory Wind,” where two guest artists were invited onstage to sing along.

“I have a lot to say to you, but I don’t know how to say it,” Jones said onstage, addressing the crowd in a town that missed her.

When the band played “Come Away With Me,” music lovers relaxed, wrapped their arms around each other and enjoyed the smooth tune. It was at this point, a point that happens often at any music festival, where people closed their eyes, savoring the escape from whatever was to come in the days or weeks ahead. The people in the crowd were happy to be exactly where they were.

“We do a lot of theater, sit-down shows so playing a show like this where people are excited and having a good time is kind of the most fun, you know?” guitarist Jason Roberts said after the show.

Roberts said the musicians in the band, before the Norah Jones project, had been playing together for around eight years. They joined the team as Norah Jones’s band in 2012 and have been playing together since.

The Oaktopia crowd was charmed and enchanted by Norah’s voice and mesmerized by the band’s performance. The warm set featured expressive guitar solos, hearty pocket drumming, fluid bass work and overall feel-good music. UNT had one of its most famous students back under the green light, and most of those in attendance were appreciative.

Narciso Tovar, spokesperson for the festival, said things were going pretty well over the course of the weekend. Saturday is the third and final day of the festival, and headliners Best Coast, Rae Sremmurd, Andrew W.K. and Erykah Badu as DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown are slotted to wrap everything up nicely.

“It’s going really good. [We’ve had] a couple little hiccups, but I mean every festival gets them. Everyone’s really enjoyed the festival, all the VIPs have been having a great time, the city’s been enjoying it and UNT as far as we know is having a good time. It’s been a great partnership for sure,” Tovar said. “I mean, you can’t go wrong with Norah Jones, you really can’t.”

Featured Image: Norah Jones performs Friday at Oaktopia Fest 2016. Hannah Breland

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Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin

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