April means that the height of festival season is fully upon us, and that French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest are right around the corner. This year, French Quarter Fest is April 11-14. FQF remains the preeminent showcase for local talent—everyone drops by for a set. I like the feel of the Quarter during this festival. It’s a great way to spend time revisiting old haunts and finding some great new music.
This season, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival adds an extra day running April 25-28 and May 2-5. It’s the 50th anniversary of Jazz Fest and there has already been a lot of talk about the presence of the Rolling Stones at the Fair Grounds this year, so let’s talk about some of the other great things going on at the Fair Grounds. First off—in order to accommodate the Stones—Jazz Fest organizers have added a fourth day to the first weekend of the fest and packed it with some amazing talent. On that day alone you’ll be able to see Earth, Wind and Fire, Alanis Morissette, The Doobie Brothers, Taj Mahal, Boyfriend, BeauSoleil and Jason Marsalis. The last time that Jazz Fest had a first Thursday was 2003 and that remains one of my favorite days of the festival—the bulk of the attendees hadn’t made it into town yet and the day was relatively quiet, intimate and local. Make a point of seeing Hurray for the Riff Raff on the 27th—Alynda Segarra and company are based here and riding on a string of excellent releases and engaging live performances. It’s great to see them among the likes of Katy Perry and Leon Bridges. Sunday the 28th is a home run with Van Morrison and Al Green, along with Bonnie Raitt and Irma Thomas, not to mention Jerry Lee Lewis and the Indigo Girls, plus a pair of high-powered tributes to Fats Domino and Louis Prima. Friday the 3rd offers performances from Gary Clark Jr., Kamasi Washington and the incomparable Cécile McLorin Salvant. In addition to the Stones, the second weekend of Fest is anchored by two long time festival favorites with Dave Matthew Band holding down Saturday, and Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band taking the Sunday honors. Quint Davis and company have done a very good job of booking both amazing headliners and wonderful local and rising talent throughout the festival schedule. There are going to be a lot of very difficult scheduling conflicts this year—keep your walking shoes close.
Playlist of mentioned bands available at: http://bit.ly/InTune4-19
SoDown moves the Hi-Ho.
Death Cab for Cutie rocks The Orpheum.
Willie Nelson tells stories at The Fillmore.
Antiseen rocks the Howlin’ Wolf.
Bayonne experiments at Gasa Gasa.
San Holo moves The Joy.
Hand Habits rocks Gasa Gasa.
Tyler Childers brings bluegrass to The Civic.
Big Boi raps at The Fillmore.
Avey Tare rocks Gasa Gasa.
The Suffers bring the soul to One Eyed Jacks.
Boyfriend goes big at One Eyed Jacks.
Dates are subject to change; email Mike@MyNewOrleans.com or contact him through Twitter @Minima.