Lost Bayou Ramblers Explore Cajun's Outer Limits at Jazz Fest

A lot was good on Friday at Jazz Fest, but nothing was as mind-blowing as the Lost Bayou Ramblers’ set. The Cajun band has shown a healthy sense of adventure since 2012’s Mammoth Waltz, but you could almost always trace musical ideas back to Cajun musical traditions. Friday, they went further out, and it sounded better for the moments of musical exploration.

Jones, Staples Top a Thursday at Jazz Fest That Has Gone Through Changes

The most compelling music during Jazz Fest’s first weekend came in the Cultural Exchange Pavilion, where Moonlight Benjamin created all the rock ’n’ roll excitement you could ask for from a Haitian singer, a psychedelic European art rock take on the blues, and some rhythms that split the difference between cultures of origin. In the center of it was Moonlight Benjamin, who was a rock star.

Hurray for the Riff Raff, Curren$y, Stayed True to Themselves at Jazz Fest

Music is only part of the story at Jazz Fest, which is part of why covering it is so interesting. It’s a business story, so one thing that has to be taken into account in pieces that praised Katy Perry’s show—which was fine and did as much spectacle as she could manage under the circumstances—was that the number two name on the festival’s initial lineup release was a soft draw, particularly of young people. The folding chair village was full, but there was a lot of standing room on the track-side of the stage.

Moonlight Benjamin's an Earlier Contender for Most Exciting Jazz Fest Set This Year

Bands have been trying for years to do what Moonlight Benjamin made seem effortless. Starting with The Gun Club, countless American bands have tried to find the place where the blues and Voodoo-inflected spirituality meet. In fact, Moonlight Benjamin do more than that, but the Haitian singer and the rock band accompanying her started there with “Papa Legba” in the Blues Tent Friday at Jazz Fest.

Broadsides, Boyfriend Best at Jazz Fest Thursday, and Friday Highlights

Think of Thursday at a test drive for this year’s Jazz Fest. The lineup was a Locals Thursday lineup and lacked the firepower to get a lot of people out to the Fair Grounds, and the morning rains further discouraged attendance. For that reason, the first day of this year’s festival didn’t feel like much of an event, but there were still some impressive shows. 

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: The Second Friday at the Fest and at Night

For me, the stretch from 12:25 to 5:25 p.m. Friday is what makes a good Jazz Fest. During that stretch, I hope to see part of the New Orleans Hip-Hop Experience (particularly Fiend and 3D Natee), Lil’ Buck Sinegal with Barbara Lynn, The Nth Power, Tank and the Bangas, Jupiter & Okwess, 79rs Gang, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, and The Soul Rebels.

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

The second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell starts today with Locals Thursday. For the first time, locals actually get a discount on tickets—$50 down from $80 at the gate with no fees. Festgoers can get up to two locals tickets at ticket booths at the Fair Grounds with a Louisiana driver’s license, a Louisiana ID card, or college ID from a Louisiana institution if it has a photo on it.

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