Big Freedia Is Mardi Gras' Ambassador

Few other contemporary New Orleans artists sit perched on as high of a royal pedestal as Big Freedia. From underground local stardom to collabs with Beyoncé and Drake, Freedia seems to be gradually taking over and becoming bigger than anyone would have imagined. If you’ve ever attended a Big Freedia show, you know that it’s a participatory act. She spearheads a crowd so convincingly that they would probably follow her into a burning building. They move with her. They shake, wobble, and twerk with her.

DJ Nice Rack Connects the Future and the Past at Voodoo

Michelle Currier performs as DJ Nice Rack, and she is indebted to New Orleans’ musical lexicon. The Louisiana native considers bounce and southern hip-hop the backbone of her sets. Her sound straddles the musical universes to which she’s bound, looking both backwards and forwards as she merges old school hip-hop with forward-looking house beats.     

Jazz Fest: Aerosmith Acts Its Age

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler clearly has no plans to grow old gracefully. Saturday at Jazz Fest’s Acura Stage, the lead singer spent much of the set having an obvious, onstage squabble with the sound engineer running the monitors, repeatedly pointing angrily at the wedges in front of him and his in-ear monitor. At one point, Tyler jokingly stopped short of hitting him in the face with the base of his mic stand, and Tyler missed the pick-up in “Sweet Emotion” because he couldn’t let it go.

Jazz Fest: The Second Saturday at the Fest and at Night

Saturday at Jazz Fest ends with Cage the Elephant and Aerosmith opposite each other at the Gentilly and Acura stages. One rocks; one used to rock. Cage the Elephant has never sounded as gloriously decadent as Aerosmith in the ‘70s, but neither has Aerosmith since the ‘70s. I realized at one point in their 1980s comeback that I cared more about what happened to Alicia Silverstone in their videos than the songs themselves, and that was that.

Jazz Fest: Saturday's Best at the Fest and the Clubs

Saturday at Jazz Fest, Rod Stewart tags in for Aretha Franklin. I give Stewart credit for aging into the Great American Songbook--even if I don't want to hear him sing those songs--but when he last played Jazz Fest in 2007, he closed with "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy." That might be a question that the then-62 Stewart wondered in his heart of hearts, but making it his final statement/question to the audience made him seem desperate and shallow.

New Orleans Sings Along at Christmas Time

[Updated] According to singer Judith Owen, Christmas has two sides—“Bloody awful and wonderful,” and both are represented in Christmas songs. When sung together, they’re shared expressions of community, but “they're all about yearning,” she said in 2012. “They're about missing home. They're about missing people. Songs like 'White Christmas' and 'The Christmas Song' are about yearning. 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' is one of the saddest songs I've heard in my entire life."

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