It will be an incredibly diverse year out at the track. The Jazzfest lineup hasn’t looked this good in a long time.

On Tuesday, just hours shy of another major festival lineup announcement (we’ll be discussing that soon), Jazzfest revealed the lineup for their 2016 program. Right out of the gate, the headliners are a bit fresher than recent years. Pearl Jam and Neil Young are both quintessential festival acts. Pearl Jam has spent the last twenty years honing their live persona. Whether you like their music or not, their performances are extraordinary. Neil Young will be backed by Lukas Nelson’s (yes Willie’s son) band Promise of the Real. The two came together last year for Young’s record The Monsanto Years. If that weren’t enough Stevie Wonder is there to round out the big three. The lineup is so strong this year that Snoop Dogg, Paul Simon (who is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the time he played one of the best sets ever at Jazzfest), Beck and Van Morrison all got pushed to the second row of the listing.

Once we push past the big names at the top, the strength of this lineup really shines through. Tedeschi Trucks Band and Friends return this year as the Thursday headliner. That is a perfect match. Argo Guthrie will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Alice’s Restaurant and Los Lobos will be performing La Pistola y El Corazón in full. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats return to town after a sold out show at Tipitina’s this fall. Snarky Puppy return to finish the set that was cut short by rain last year. I would imagine that the tribute to Allen Toussaint, hosted by his band, will be one of the events of the year. Everyone will want to pay tribute to Toussaint on the stage that he held with effortless grace for so many years. Keeping in line with expansion of indie Americana at the festival we have Brandi Carlile, Elle King, Rhiannon Giddens and The Lone Bellow on the bill as well. All four of these performers put on excellent shows, let’s hope they don’t get shunted off to the Fais do-do stage.

This year it looks like Saturday is your best bet for the first weekend (of course everyone else is thinking that too). If Pearl Jam is too crowded at Acura, Van Morrison on Gentilly isn’t a bad alternative. Of course Saturday also includes, Galactic, Nathanial Rateliff and Leo Nocentelli. While my favorite day of the festival is invariably the Thursday, the final Sunday looks like an absolute lock this year with Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Mavis Staples, The Toussaint Tribute, The Punch Brothers, The Tin Men and of course Bobbie Lounge (can’t have Jazzfest without Bobbie Lounge).

On the whole, the Jazzfest team has outdone themselves. This lineup is aggressive and takes full advantage of the bands heading out on the road this summer. As always, I’d love to see a bit more indie rock, but one thing at a time. Suddenly, I’m looking forward to the spring even more.

 

To Do This Week

Tonight check out Royal Teeth at Gasa Gasa. On Friday the traveling music and art tour Art, Beats and Lyrics will be at the Howlin' Wolf. Local artists Ana Hernandez, Diwang and J Hand will be featured along with music from Scarface, Rich Medina and Wally Sparks. This will be an excellent night of art and music. Saturday night George Porter Jr and the Runnin’ Pardners will be at the Civic. On Sunday Marrow and Sima Cunningham will be at Gasa Gasa (this is my recommended show of the week). On Wednesday the Star Trek symphonic experience will be at the Mahalia Jackson.

 

To Listen This Week

Paul Simon and Aaron Neville sing “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” at Jazzfest in 2001 via Youtube

Grimes has released a new video for “Kill v Maim” via Youtube

PJ Harvey has released a teaser of her new single in advance of her new record via CoS