Our highlights for the day include Sweet Crude, Red Baraat, and Native American hip-hop.
The first weekend of Jazz Fest ends with two interesting choices (sorry—in my mind, Jimmy Buffett isn’t one of them). David Byrne’s ability to reinvent himself in ways that embrace the breadth of his musical interests makes his set on the Gentilly Stage promising. Early shows on the tour including Coachella have leaned heavily on Talking Heads and concluded with Janelle Monae’s #blacklivesmatter anthem “Hell You Talmbout.” At the same time, former Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson brings some classic R&B showmanship to the Congo Square Stage, and he has stolen the show from a number of high-powered Essence Festival headliners including Kendrick Lamar.
Two promising question marks on Sunday are Nicholas Payton Too Black and Jon Batiste with the Dap-Kings. Since I loved his Afro-Caribbean Mixtape, I’m curious what this will be, and Batiste played one of Jazz Fest’s best sets last year with Stay Human. It will be interesting to see what changes when Batiste subs in the great soul band that powered Sharon Jones for the genre-fluidity of his long-standing band.
Here is our downloadable schedule, color-coded with our picks, and we have a few basic principles that aren’t on the grid. 1) See something in Economy Hall; 2) See something in the Gospel Tent; and check out international acts. Principles 1 and 2 get you out of the sun and into a world that likely isn’t yours, and 3 gives you a chance to see something you likely won’t see again. Period. Some acts are Culture On Parade and good for you like flossing, but Jazz Fest does a pretty good job of getting acts that are wrestling with ways to honor their traditions in a contemporary context. It’s the same challenge that the best New Orleans and Louisiana bands manifest in their music.
Here are a few sets we want to make sure are on your radar:
Lacee and Labrado (Congo Square, 1:55 p.m.)
Sweet Crude (Gentilly Stage, 1:55 p.m.)
Supaman (Jazz and Heritage Stage, 4:25 p.m.)
For me, Sunday night is a little thin, and the choices are clear.
Los Lobos at House of Blues (8 p.m.)
Red Baraat at Gasa Gasa (9 p.m.)