Checking out the First Week Lineup of the 2022 New Orleans JazzFest

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.

Image from the 2022 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival by Terrance Osborne.

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!

Letting It Snow and Ho Ho Ho the New Orleans Way

As I write this and prepare for this week’s show, the forecast for New Orleans is a mostly sunny day with a high of 79 degrees. But close your eyes and start my show and we’ll conjure up this winter’s celebration with music by New Orleans musicians.

The 2021 Steve Martin Banjo Prize Winner Don Vappie kicks us off the show with a swinging “Please Come Home for Christmas.” Kenny Neal drives home that point with his “I’ll be Home for Christmas.” Whether you celebrate Christmas or Solstice or some other winter holiday or nothing at all, most of the messages of the songs I play on this week’s show are universal. And capturing one of my more hipper ideals is Kermit Ruffins with his “Crazy Cool Christmas.” But don’t worry, the show gets un-hip pretty quickly with an airing of the “12 Yats of Christmas.” A little about New Orleans accents in one of my earliest posts.

As a kid in New Orleans, a White Christmas was only a dream. I recall one snow day as a child and it was pretty wimpy. The Radiators sing about their first snow while Allen Toussant delivers is classic “The Day It Snows in New Orleans.” Here’s a previous Christmas week post that goes a bit more into memories of snow in New Orleans.

Next set goes into the struggles of holidays when its may be missing something or someone. Ted Hefko introduces “It’s Cold in Here” with how his partner had to always be away during the Christmas season cause of work while Kelcy Mae sings about the struggles couples have when they have competing family interests to satisfy during the holiday — a song that become even more poignant when it turns into a celebration of legal same sex marriage. Marva Wright drives home the relevant point with her powerful “Stocking Full of Love.”

At this point in the show, just over halfway, Santa makes an appearance with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington’s “Jingle Bells,” Earl King’s “Santa, Don’t Let Me Down,” Frankie Ford’s “Santa Won the Lottery,” Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias with Bonerama give us “Shakana Santa Shake,” and two songs about Rudolph by Fats Domino and Debbie Davis and Matt Perriine.

If you made it through the show this far you will be rewarded by a great new Christmas single by Bon Bon Vivant “The Old Christmas Song” and some other treats — don’t want to ruin the surprise. And I always love to hear Smoky Greenwell’s rhythmic Frosty the Snowman. Check it out.

Y’all have a wonderful winter holiday whether its Christmas, Kwanzaa or just yelling at the radio . . .as long as you’re listening. Cheers.