Over the years, Essence Fest has made New Orleans a serious destination for music in July.  This year, the festival returns July 5-8, with an absolutely amazing lineup. For starters, the headliners are Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige and Erykah Badu. You can also catch Jill Scott, The Roots, Snoop Dogg and Queen Latifah as well. One of the great things about this festival is it really brings the Quarter to life. Keep an eye out for all of the after party announcements, as every part of downtown will be some special event.  

If you’re interested in going a bit farther afield and maybe avoiding a bit of the summer heat, it’s time once again for Jazz Fest’s sister festival Newport Folk. From the 27th to the 29th the folk world will once again descend on Fort Adams for three days of collaboration and play.  This year the festival will feature Margo Price, Moses Sumney, St. Vincent, Sturgill Simpson, Courtney Barnett, Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, Jenny Lewis, Passenger and The War and Treaty among others. This is an extreme amount of talent packed into one weekend. Courtney Barnett has an extremely good new record out and Moses Sumney had one of the best albums of last year. St. Vincent has debuted an exciting new stage show and Hamilton + Leithauser’s collaboration with Rostam has been absolutely epic. When you couple all that with the temperate New England weather it makes for an excellent excuse for a vacation. As usual, we’ll have daily updates from the festival online, so keep an eye on that space.  

If you’re not making that trip, make sure to check out the Free Friday shows at Tipitina’s. On  July 6, you can catch Maggie Koerner and Miss Mojo. On July 13 they have Corey Henry’s Treme Funktet and Erica Falls. On July 20, they have Gravity A with Video Age and Spencer Whatever and on July 27 you can see the excellent Honey Island Swamp Band with Sonic Bloom. These shows are a great way to beat the heat and check out some free live local music. You really can’t go wrong with any of these nights.

Playlist of mentioned bands available at: http://bit.ly/InTune7-18


Must-see music


Paramore and Foster the People rock Champions Square.


Unknown Mortal Orchestra psych out Republic.


Alison Krauss sings to the Saenger.


Lake Street Dive rocks the House of Blue.


The Body experiments at Gasa Gasa.


Deacon John brings the blue to Tipitina’s.


River Whyless folks the Parish.


Sales and No Vacation pop into Gasa Gasa.

Dates are subject to change; email Mike@MyNewOrleans.com or contact him through Twitter @Minima.