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.

Jazz Fest: Shorty Honors the Nevilles

Trombone Shorty’s fest-closing set deserves to be the ritual that the Neville Brothers’ set used to be. The shows have been impressive, funky, and a lot of fun as he worked to justify occupying the slot, and each one has shown meaningful growth. He concluded this year’s Jazz Fest by using his songs as starting points for more expansive musical experiences.

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: Catching Up with Joe Dyson

Since Joe Dyson was a teenager at NOCCA, he has been one of The Drummers Most Likely To …. He, Conun Pappas, and Max Moran made an impact right away as The Bridge Trio, and became players to watch when they performed an impromptu tribute to the NOCCA teacher and mentor Alvin Batiste at Jazz Fest on the day he died in 2007. They furthered their musical education playing with Donald Harrison Jr. during their stint in the Tipitina’s Intern Program, a program for which Harrison is artistic director.

Jazz Fest: Tank and The Bangas Contain Multitudes

Friday at Jazz Fest was a lesson in context. I went into the day excited to see Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, but after an afternoon that included Fiend, 3D Na’Tee, Tank and The Bangas, and Jupiter & Okwess from the Congo, a dude with carefully crafted country(ish) songs didn’t fit the day’s flavor profile. The musical and lyrical clarity in his songs were also at odds with the sometimes gnarly music I got from Tank and Jupiter. 

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