Here’s hoping that the third time really is the charm. After two years of planning great line-ups only to be COVID cancelled, Jazzfest has once again tantalized our live music taste buds with the promise of a New Orleans Spring we haven’t seen since 2019.
This week’s show indulges in that hope by working through some of the local New Orleans acts that will be performing at the Fair Grounds Race Course in the last weekend of April restarting a tradition that ran unbroken from 1970 until two years ago.
To say that this year’s festival is a big (add expletive) deal is an understatement.
This week’s show starts with Don Vappie, a world class banjo player who sings in French and English and helps sustain the Creole sound with his Creole Jazz Serenaders. Every song afterwards is by a musician scheduled to take the stage on that first weekend, including Jon Cleary, Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band, Alexey Marti, Aurora Nealand, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, the Original Pin Stripe Brass Band and Delfeayo Marsalis.
JazzFest is a chance for musicians and music lovers alike to remember and honor those that have died. In the first weekend, special events are scheduled to mark the passing of Ellis Marsalis, Jr. , Dr. John, Spencer Bohren, and George Wein. Also, the Hot 8 Brass Band will perform — a band that has lost too many of its band members, including its bandleader and founder Bennie Pete last summer. You’ll hear Spencer and Bennie in this week’s show.
As usual, the lineup includes non-New Orleans acts such as Lionel Ritchie, the Avett Brothers, Foo Fighters and The Who. But you won’t hear them on my New Orleans music show. Not that I do a particularly good job of covering the over 100 New Orleans area acts that will be performing. I only had time for 26 songs in this two-hour show.
However, you will hear a classic recording by Clarence “Frogman” Henry who will be part of a “New Orleans Classic Recording Revue” with the Dixie Cups and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson. And despite the name, its not all jazz so this show’s mix includes the New Orleans Spiritualettes, Cha Wa , Jamie Lynn Vessels and Lakou Mizik which is a Haitian band that has recorded in New Orleans.
Another musician you won’t hear at JazzFest but will certainly see is Jon Batiste. He’s featured in the official festival poster created by Terrance Osborne whose work can be easily seen and purchased at his studio on Magazine Street. Batiste will not be able to make the festival but his spirit will preside. The Osborne image conjures up Batiste’s grammy-nominated song “Freedom” and its accompanying video of dancing in the streets.
Next week I’ll feature music by acts scheduled for the second week including Bon Bon Vivant which is touring the Northwest right now and will be performing in Tacoma on February 2, 2022. Yes, 2/02/2022. And then the next morning, they’ll be in the KAOS studio with me. Subscribe so you don’t miss it!