Our highlights for the day include Lulu and the Broadsides, Doctor Nativo, Boyfriend and New Orleans hip-hop.

boyfriend photo for my spilt milk by greg miles
Boyfriend, by Greg Miles

The 50th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell celebrates the festival’s past with tributes to some of the greats who have been important to its development. That would feel more special if Jazz Fest didn’t look back almost every year. On Thursday, I don’t think there are 20 acts out of 70 that will be on stages (not counting the Kids’ Tent and the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage) that haven’t played the festival before, including headliners Earth, Wind & Fire, Taj Mahal, The James Carter Organ Trio, and Ciara. Mahal, Earth, Wind & Fire, and a number of local acts have played Jazz Fest many times.

The familiarity means the biggest draw to this year’s Jazz Fest is Jazz Fest itself. Headliners J Balvin and Katy Perry may help attract fans specifically for their sets, but for the most part the top of the bill helps people decide when—not if—they are going. This is ironic considering the news when festival producer Quint Davis announced the lineup was that, really, Jazz Fest was going to be the opening act for The Rolling Stones. Now the draw is the same as it has been since the start: an encapsulation of Louisiana culture as it fits on 13 stages, four food areas, and two or three arts and crafts centers. 

We’ll have picks each day with videos to let you know what your in for. If we’ve covered artists in the past, we’ll link to our stories. We won’t spend too much time on headliners because there are plenty of outlets that can recommend Alanis Morissette to you. They can’t be counted on to know who Lulu and Broadsides, Boyfriend or Doctor Nativo are. 

Grayson Brockamp and the New Orleans Wildlife Band
12:20 p.m., WWOZ Jazz Tent
Grayson was part of My Spilt Milk’s coverage of the death and rebirth of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. He makes his Jazz Fest debut with his own band this year. 

Amy Helm
1:25 p.m., Gentilly Stage

Lulu and the Broadsides feat. Dayna Kurtz
3:05 p.m., Lagniappe Stage

4:05 p.m., Gentilly Stage
We’ve talked with Boyfriend a number of times including this podcast conversation from 2017.

New Orleans Female Hip-Hop Experience feat. Ghetto Twinz, Cheeky Blakk, 3D Na’Tee, M$ Tee, Keedy Black, Briki Fa President, DEJ Westbank Red & Downtown Leslie Brown
4:25 p.m., Congo Square Stage

Doctor Nativo
6:05 p.m., Jazz and Heritage Stage