Shorty, Nevilles Belatedly Pass the Torch at Jazz Fest

Jazz Fest producer Quint Davis introduced the festival-closing set by saying that three acts had closed the fest on what is now the Acura Stage—Professor Longhair, the Neville Brothers, and Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue—and that two of the three were coming up. There were a few other acts between Longhair’s death in 1980 and 1986 when the Neville Brothers took up residency in that spot, but the time slot has been associated with the Neville Brothers and Shorty for more than 30 years.

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.

Lizzo Challenges Critics, But She Doesn't Need To

Lizzo has made her name for by loving herself and forcing everyone else to follow suit. Her message is one of aggressive self-empowerment, and it has given voice to many people who never see themselves represented in mainstream pop culture. She’s incessantly positive about her size, gender, and race because she exists in an industry and world that proves she must be. She’s is setting a lot of firsts, and in order to normalize the things she wants to normalize, she must be relentless.

J Balvin Introduces Jazz Fest to Reggaeton

I was thinking a lot this weekend about things you never see at Jazz Fest, and I got two more on Sunday. A fan somehow snuck a portable speaker in—portable speakers are not on the Kermit Ruffins-voiced list of prohibited items we hear when entering Jazz Fest!—and played reggaeton in the audience before J Balvin’s set began at the Gentilly Stage. It was great to see people start their own party with their own entertainment, just as it was great to see four girls rush the stage to hug Jack Antonoff during Bleachers’ set before Balvin.

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. 

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