The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has released its daily lineups. It’s still too early to plan any particular day at the Jazz Fest, because we don’t yet know any act’s exact time or stage. Nevertheless, realizing that inability to bilocate may prevent me from seeing all these acts, the following look promising:
Friday, April 24. I’ve never heard of the 19th Street Blues Band, but the name makes me want to check it out. And I may wander over to (probably) the Gospel Tent for the Tribute to Mahalia Jackson, featuring Irma Thomas, Mavis Staples, and Pamela Landrum. Barring some heartbreaking conflict, I will definitely try to see Spencer Bohren. Toward the end of the day, I’ll have to choose among Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave., Tab Benoit, Henry Butler, and Joe Cocker. Jazz fans will probably want to see Wynton Marsalis.
Saturday, April 25. Here’s another act with a name intriguing enough to pique my interest: the Tipsy Chicks. The mid-afternoon highlight looks to be Joe Krown with Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Russell Batiste, Jr. Later in the day, there will be a landslide of talent; the pickings include New Birth Brass Band, Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Rebirth Brass Band, Pete Fountain, Johnny Winter, and Irma Thomas. Also on tap is a lanky New Englander named James Taylor.
Sunday, April 26. Last year I missed Guitar Slim Jr. I’ll try to catch him this year. For my jazz fix, it’ll be Dr. Michael White. Later in the day, the choosing becomes most difficult: Eddie Bo, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles, Sonny Landreth (best bet), Terence Blanchard, Mavis Staples, Robert Cray, Etta James, Earth Wind & Fire, and the Dave Matthews Band.
Thursday, April 30. Thursday is usually a relatively low-key day. But there will be a lot of stuff worth seeing. For instance, Little Freddie King, who brought the house down at the Blues Tent last year. For zydeco fans, the pickings include Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys and one of my favorites, Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots—an under-rated and under-appreciated group. Theresa Andersson will show everyone what incredible things a woman with loop pedals can do. Other acts I’ll try to see: Anders Osborne, Eddie Bo, Jakob Dylan, and Solomon Burke.
Friday, May 1. The headliner is a curious choice: Tony Bennett. Great voice, but he doesn’t strike me as a festival act. Instead of seeing him, I’ll probably catch Bonnie Raitt. Leading up to that: J. Monque ’D Blue Band, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Frankie Ford, BeauSoleil, Kermit Ruffins, and Marcia Ball.
Saturday, May 2. Here’s another headliner that has me scratching my head: Bon Jovi—flashbacks of 80s music, 80s hair, 80s clothes, and MTV. What next, Duran Duran? The good thing about big-name acts like that is that they draw a mass of humanity to whichever stage they’re playing, leaving some elbow room in front of the other stages. Me, I’ll be looking for elbow room wherever Dr. John is playing, and hoping that he plays some material from “City That Care Forgot.” Bobby Lounge will be on my must-see list. The try-to-see list includes Chris Thomas King, Bonerama, Eric Lindell, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and Aaron Neville (assuming I can squeeze into the Gospel Tent).
Sunday, May 3. My must-see will be Buddy Guy, if only because I’ve never seen him live before. My try-to-sees: D.L. Menard & the Louisiana Aces (traditional Cajun music), Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm, Big Chief Bo Dollis & the Wild Magnolias, Snooks Eaglin, Los Lobos, and the Neville Brothers.