40 Years of Jazz Fest
Nothing else can bring such a wide variety of musicians and fans together in close quarters like Jazz Fest does. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Fest, and the lineup includes headliners Neil Young, Bon Jovi, Tony Bennett, Ben Harper, the Dave Matthews Band and James Taylor, just to name a few. But not to be overlooked of course, are the local sweethearts such as Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Allen Toussaint, Trombone Shorty, and Amanda Shaw [Ed. note: See Persona, p. 28 for more on Shaw].
Encompassing all genres of music from gospel to rock ‘n’ roll, Jazz Fest’s lineup is sure to please children and adults, visitors and locals alike.
There are 12 stages this year, including the ever-popular Kid’s Tent.
Held at the Fair Grounds, Jazz Fest will, as usual, showcase the universal talents of musicians, as well as cooks, artists, craftsmen, Mardi Gras Indians and more. The Fest will be held on April 24-26 and April 30-May 3.
Free in the French Quarter
Preceding Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest serves as a festive warm-up for all the music that’s taking captivating New Orleans. Taking place year April 17-19, this free music festival is held at a variety of venues downtown – though it’s grown so much that it may soon encompass the entire city.
Highlights this year at French Quarter Fest will include a new stage called Esplanade in the Shade, which offers a bohemian Frenchmen Street-like feel, with performances by Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr. and the Wild Magnolias, Ingrid Lucia, Astral Project and more.
There’s also going to be the World Championship Oyster Eating Contest, held in the Old U.S. Mint, and Tulane Hospital for Children hosts a hula hoop and jump rope competition, along with face painting, drum circles and more. Last year, French Quarter Fest celebrated its 25th anniversary, drawing in nearly half a million people. This year it will certainly be attracting just as many, if not more, with its performances by the Radiators, Walter “Wolfman” Washington and the Roadmasters and a wide variety of other fabulous local talents.
Information, 522-5730, www.fqfi.org.
Wednesdays at the Square
It isn’t like we’ve all been hibernating or anything, but now more than ever is the time to get outside.
Wednesdays at the Square, the free weekly music festival put on by the Young Leadership Council will make a return on April 1, sponsored by the New Orleans Saints.
Each week will feature some fabulous mainstays on the music scene; the Bucktown All-Stars with the Soul Rebels Brass Band will kickoff the event, while Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Shades of Praise, Jeremy Davenport, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, Jake Smith, Marcia Ball and Marva Wright and the BMWs are all slated to perform this month. Also make sure to check out the Artists Village and a variety of concession stands to keep you satisfied.
VaudevillianS for a Cause
On April 10 One Eyed Jacks will take guests back in time with the vintage vaudeville-style Dancing Angels’ Revue fundraiser.
Check out performances by Fleur de Tease, known for its mix of modern style vaudeville and classic New Orleans dance routines and circus-style acts; the Bustout Burlesque troupe, known for its authentically risqué 1950s-nightclub style; and the Storyville Starlettes, the longest-running burlesque show in the city. Comedian Magic Mike, dancer and hula-hooper Sarah the Bobcat, sultry singer Anais St. John and retro torch singer Debbie Davis will also provide entertainment. The event isn’t just for fun though – proceeds will benefit the FeedTheChildren.org and the Abandoned Children’s Center in Nairobi, Kenya. Fleur de Tease member Lily Summers came up with the idea when touring with HBO’s Comic Relief last summer, and she hopes that this event is the first of many.
If you have a short attention span but a good sense of humor, “Short Takes,” a series of brief comedies by Mary Louise Wilson, will premiere on April 3 at Le Chat Noir. Wilson, who’s a Tony award-winning actress, playwright and a graduate of our own Isidore Newman School, will touch upon topics ranging from haute and haughty dining in Paris to memory loss and aging, and she’ll even make fun of her own kind: theater folk. Directed by Carl Walker an produced by All Kinds of Theatre, the cast will include Carol Sutton, Claire Moncrief and J. Patrick McNamara.
Information, 581-5812, www.cabaretchatnoir.com.