The music scene in April is dominated by French Quarter Fest and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest. This year French Quarter Fest has shifted to the week before Jazz Fest due to the NCAA Women’s Final Four Tournament. This change places FQF April 16-19 and Jazz Fest April 23-May 3, so get ready for a flat sprint of music through the end of the month.
French Quarter Fest will see the return of local legends including: Irma Thomas, Ellis Marsalis, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Leroy Jones, The Soul Rebels, Sweet Crude, Alex McMurray, Charmaine Neville and Walter “Wolfman” Washington. You can also catch first time performances from The Givers, Loose Cattle, Mikayla Braun and the DinosAurchestra. French Quarter Fest has really come into its own as a world-renowned festival. The vibe in the Quarter is electric while it is going on.
Jazz Fest returns with a combination of exciting headliners and great local talent. The festival has kept its eight-day format from last year and will run from Thursday through Sunday both weeks. Each of the two Thursdays has been designated a locals day with discounted admission for folks with a valid Louisiana ID. I always find the Thursdays of Jazz Fest to be the most enjoyable days as the crowds are a little lighter and the frenzy of the weekend is just getting started. This year the first day of Fest (23rd) has a substantial lineup including The Beach Boys, The Givers, Gal Holiday and more. The second Thursday (30th) features an equally strong showing with the return of The Black Crowes, Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, the outstanding War and Treaty, and the Pfister Sisters Tribute to the Andrews Sisters. The first weekend of Jazz Fest also features Lenny Kravitz and Elvis Costello on Friday, along with locals Big Freedia and Charmaine Neville. On Saturday you can catch The Who and The Avett Brothers in headlining spots, with other sets by Shovels and Rope and Rickie Lee Jones. The Foo Fighters and Erykah Badu close out the first weekend with supporting performances from Brandi Carlile and Norah Jones.
The second weekend boasts performances from Lionel Richie and the Wu-Tang Clan featuring The Soul Rebels on Friday. On Saturday, Dead & Company return and Lizzo takes a headlining spot with supporting sets from Tank and The Bangas and PJ Morton. You won’t want to miss the tribute to Art Neville featuring The Meters, Aaron Neville and The Neville Brothers. Finally the festival winds down 2020 with Stevie Nicks, The Lumineers, John Prine and The Radiators.
As usual, in April there are a number of excellent night shows that round out festival days. Of special note this year is the reunion of the OG Garage a Trois featuring the groups original lineup of Stanton Moore on drums, Charlie Hunter on guitar and Skerik on saxophone. This show will be Sunday the 26th at Tipitina’s.
Playlist of mentioned bands available at: http://bit.ly/InTune4-20
Thundercat jams at the Joy Theater.
Vagabon haunts One Eyed Jacks.
Mersiv moves the Joy Theater.
Of Montreal pops into the Howlin’ Wolf.
Dillon Francis rocks the Fillmore.
Wavves rock One Eyed Jacks.
Sharon Van Etten moves The Civic.
April 24- 25
Umphrey’s McGee jams the Fillmore.
Lettuce jams at the Orpheum.
Caroline Rose pops into Gasa Gasa.
The Radiators radiate at The Civic.
The North Mississippi Allstars with Taj Mahal rock the Joy Theater.
Dates are subject to change; email Mike@MyNewOrleans.com or contact him through Twitter @Minima.