Mdou Moctar Takes Desert Blues Electric at Jazz Fest

In the land of the underdog story, Mdou Moctar is king. Born in the Tuareg commune village of Tchintabaraden, Niger, Moctar was raised in a strict Muslim household in which music was forbidden. He built his first guitar, a lefty five-string, from wood and bicycle brake cables and practiced it in secret, with no formal instruction. Now, he’s touring the U.S. behind his third studio album, Ilana (The Creator).

Rolling Stones are Quint-essential Jazz Fest

Before Tuesday’s announcement of the lineup for the 50th anniversary edition of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell, photographers crowded close to get shots of festival producer Quint Davis welcoming Mayor LaToya Cantrell. The greeting was official and cordial, but it also served as a reminder that Jazz Fest isn’t simply a musical or cultural event.

An Unplanned Ending the Only Blemish on Janelle Monae's Voodoo Set

[Updated] The last time Janelle Monae played Voodoo, it was located in City Park’s Marconi Meadows in 2010, She was touring behind her debut album, The ArchAndroid, and when she performed “Tightrope” to close the show, she tipped the tightrope on the ground in front of 50 or so people who supportively gave her room to move. 

QOTSA, Beach House, Weedie, and "Exile" Play Night Shows During Jazz Fest

The jam wave that followed Phish’s first appearance at Jazz Fest changed New Orleans’ nightlife during the festival, for years turning it into a place where the members of Lettuce are royalty, Grateful Dead-like jams take place nightly, and friendships made on the Jam Cruise find a stage. Funky jazz rock, rocky jazz funk, and jazzy funk rock have been the dominant sound for a decade, but this year featured some shows that acknowledged the broader spectrum of music. On Friday, April 27, the festival closed with sets by Sting and Sturgill Simpson.

How Does Jazz Fest Turn 50?

On a star power level, this year’s Jazz Fest was soft. Its biggest names play casinos and theaters, not arenas. David Byrne’s tour will play Saenger-like venues when he’s not booked at festivals. Jack White fit in the Saenger as last time he was in town, and it’s hard to imagine that the poorly received Boarding House Reach changed his draw for the better.

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