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Jazz & Heritage Festival’s First Weekend

04:01 PM Monday 5/2/11 |   |

Photographer John Davisson checks out the first weekend of this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, taking in the music, food and atmosphere while finding the time to snap a few pictures.

  • Jazz & Heritage

    The Carrollton Hunters and Big Chief Kevin Goodman & the Flaming Arrows Mardi Gras Indians march through the Fairgrounds.
    May 1, 2011

    (John Davisson)

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Every year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival brings two weekends of great music to the Fairgrounds Racetrack in the Big Easy. I enjoy going because the festival is such a mix of musical styles, food, and people. I can usually count on some rock, country, bluegrass, jazz, blues, soul, hip hop, brass, and everything out there. The first weekend is now over. But there are still plenty of tickets available for the second weekend and plenty of time to make travel plans.

The first weekend featured a variety of headliners on the main stages. Jeff Beck was the guitar virtuoso, wringing otherworldly sounds from his guitar, followed by Robert Plant & the Band of Joy with a modern take on roots music. Bon Jovi had the field full of fans for set of hits on Saturday evening, and John Mellencamp closed the festival on Sunday night. The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons played modern-roots sets. Tom Jones was not unusual on the mainstage either.\

  • Jeff Beck

    Performing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans.
    April 29, 2011

    (John Davisson)

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  • Tom Jones

    New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
    May 1, 2011

    (John Davisson)

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The legendary Irma Thomas wore a flashy new jacket that was a gift. Dr. John was as flashy as usual and John Cleary was more subdued…except for his keyboard flash. Amos Lee represented the newer singer/songwriters, The Low Anthem was low-key, and Jason Mraz was power-pop-happy.  Ricky Skaggs brought a band and played a good-time bluegrass set. Justin Townes Earle played in a folky, bluegrassy trio on the Fais-do-do Stage.

  • Irma Thomas

    Embracing the Jazz & Heritage Vibe.
    April 30, 2011

    (John Davisson)

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There was a Gospel tent, a jazz tent with artists such as singer Germaine Bazzle, Kenny G, and the Astral Project, and there was a blues tent with sets by Robert Cray, the Joe Krown Trio (with Walter “Wolfman” Washington), and a trio with Anders Osborne, Johnny Sansone, and John Fohl, and Arlo Guthrie (well, there is no folk tent).

  • Germaine Bazzle

    Playing the Gospel Tent at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
    April 29, 2011

    (John Davisson)

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Other treats at the first weekend included a set by The Decemberists on the Fais-do-do Stage, Latin music by Alejandro Sanz on the Congo Stage, and John Legend and The Roots on the Congo Stage. There was also a plethora of brass bands such as Louis Ford & His New Orleans Flairs in the Peoples Health Economy Hall tent and the Storyville Stompers Brass Band on the Jazz & Heritage Stage.

Mardi Gras Indians performed on some stages and marched through the Fairgrounds throughout the weekend. Gift shops featured crafts from diverse cultures, with Haitian, African, and Indian knick-knacks. The food at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is also one of the features. I had some jambalaya, a plate of pork ribs with white beans and ham, and some red beans and rice with sausage. The strawberry lemonade was wonderful too. In addition to traditional festival fare like hamburgers, dogs, and fried chicken, there was plenty of Cajun food, gelato, candy, and pies and cakes. I still can’t bring myself to try crawfish though.

  • Alejandro Sanz

    Congo Stage, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
    May 1, 2011

    (John Davisson)

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  • A Few Friends

    Anders Osborne, John Fohl & Johnny Sansone.
    May 1, 2011

    (John Davisson)

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After the festival is over, there are still plenty of shows happening throughout New Orleans, and plenty of other things to do in the French Quarter. The party never ends in New Orleans. And there is still another weekend (4 days this time) of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival to look forward to in just a few days. Arcade Fire, Jimmy Buffett, Cyndi Lauper, Gregg Allman, Wilco and The Strokes are some of the bands that will be playing the second weekend. More info is at www.nojazzfest.com.


Comments

  1. slipkid wrote:

    06:19 PM, May 04, 2011

    John - you haven't lived if you haven't tried the crawfish!! Other "musts" - the trout & Rosemint iced tea between the blues and jazz tents, coconut macaroons near Fais-Do-Do, and creole chicken and tasso. Dig it! Danny Melnick