Jazz Fest: A gumbo pot of music for all to enjoy
Published on 04/09/18 by Jennifer Cohn Nierman
Spring is a busy time for Realtors, so for this month’s blog post I trusted by music loving husband to write you little something. He’s dishing out his tips on what to listen to during Jazz Fest 2018. I hope y'all enjoy the read.
Spring in New Orleans is a glorious time. The end of “winter” (in quotes because it’s a relative term down here) brings warm weather without the stifling humidity that’s around the corner, plenty of crawfish to eat, and most importantly, Jazz Fest!
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, as it’s officially known, has been providing the Crescent City and visitors from around the world with top-quality music, food, and fun since 1970. Held at the Fair Grounds Race Course, Jazz Fest is seven days that represent the peak of “Festival Season.” This year’s event begins on Friday, April 27 and concludes on Sunday, May 6.
With stages featuring everything from pop to blues to zydeco to gospel, there’s something for all musical tastes at the festival. Here are a few that I look forward to checking out:
Tribute to Fats Domino (featuring Bonnie Raitt, Irma Thomas, and more) – Saturday, April 28, Acura Stage
Fats was a legend in these parts and is at least partially responsible for the birth of Rock N Roll. Fats passed away this past October and Jazz Fest will pay its respects appropriately. This is sure to be more of a celebration than a mourning ritual, so don’t miss it.
Honey Island Swamp Band – Thursday, May 3, Gentilly Stage
A local band that puts a Louisiana spin on rock, the Honey Island Swamp Band pulls together influences from folk to funk to produce an exciting and fresh sound. “Locals Thursday” is a great time to check them out and enjoy the Fest with a somewhat smaller crowd.
Lost Bayou Ramblers – Saturday, May 5, Acura Stage
Regulars at Jazz Fest in recent years, the Lost Bayou Ramblers are arguably the best and most successful Cajun band around today. Their most recent album, Kalenda, was a Grammy winner for Best Regional Roots Music Album. Don’t worry if you don’t speak French; the music will grab you anyway and you’ll be tapping your toes before you know it.
Johnny Sansone – Sunday, May 6, Blues Tent
Johnny is a harmonica whiz and a regular on the local music scene. Get to the fest early on the last day and catch his set at the Blues Tent before he blows the roof off it.
Aside from the main festival, the two weekends draw spectacular talent to the local area for night shows that keep the party going well into the evening – and sometimes clear through to the next day! Here are a few highlights at some beautiful and historic local theaters or places of interest:
As The Crow Flies – Saturday, April 28, The Joy Theater
Chris Robinson and friends will celebrate the music of The Black Crowes, the legendary Southern Rockers that have been defunct since he fell out with brother Rich in 2015. Filling Rich’s big shoes on guitar will be up-and-comer Markus King, who has been turning heads across the country despite being just 22 years old. Originally a movie house in New Orleans’ “Theater District,” The Joy opened in 1947. In late 2011, the renovated theater reopened its doors.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – Friday, May 4, Mardi Gras World
As their name implies, JRAD is probably the next best thing to seeing the actual Grateful Dead. Get your tickets now before this one sells out. (Second night on May 5 is already full!) Mardi Gras World has become a unique venue to catch a show, as the warehouses that normally store the world famous floats from Mardi Gras will be transformed into a hippie commune for these two nights.
Ryan Adams: Exile on Bourbon Street – Saturday, May 5, Saenger Theater
Adams and a to-be-announced band of all-stars will play the Rolling Stones’ classic double album Exile on Main Street in its entirety. It will sound great in this wonderfully-restored theater that dates back to 1927!
Whether you’re into jam bands, classic rock, brass, rap, or soul, there’s music for you to enjoy at Jazz Fest. You just have to get out there and explore! I can’t wait to see you out there. Happy Jazz Fest, y’all!