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New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: Friday, April 27th

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Time for that magical mystery tour to the Crescent City to eat, drink and hear amazing music. Lots of Chicagoans go, so if you see me, don’t be shy. We’re there to have a great time together!!! Here are Friday’s fest recommendations from your humble D.J. Print and pack.

The Acura Stage will feature the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary tour as their headliner at 5:30. To get you into that golden top 40 mood, don’t miss The Classic New Orleans Review with three guys who put out 45′s that made it into my high school record collection. I’ve seen them all in concert and they do a great job putting you in a New Orleans Mood. Frankie Ford will take you on a Sea Cruise, Al Johnson will give the day a Carnival Time feel, and Robert Parker will have everyone Barefootin’. Really. I mean it. People will shake of their sandals and dance barefoot like there’s no tomorrow. What fun.

Then don’t go anywhere because at 2:15 the ultimate New Orleans girl group takes the stage. The Dixie Cups are so wonderful. They made me cry when the did a cover of Dancing With My Father. And when they do their hits….wow. Takes me back to watching them on Shindig. You can’t hear this anywhere else in the world.

Bon Iver will headline the Gentilly Stage at 5:25. Gomez, who did a great XRT show a couple months ago at the Vic, will play at 2:10, and the Givers follow at 3:45.

The Congo Square Stage is surrounded by a wonderful African crafts area. Yes…not only great food and music, but shopping as well. It is like heaven. You’ll always hear great soul and world music at this stage. An absolute standout reggae band, Steel Pulse, is the headliner at 5:30. Love, love, love this band.

There is jazz at this Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the jazz tent is always a good bet to sit for a bit out of the sun and hear amazingly great music. The headliner sounds like an outstanding time with Cubano Be, Cubano Bop: Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Band featuring Terence Blanchard. I’ve loved that jazz/Cuban fusion since I Love Lucy…and seriously since Dizzy Gillespie went there. Terence is a New Orleans citizen and a musician I can highly recommend. They take the stage at 5:30. Be prepared to dance.

The Blues Tent is the place to hear the blues if you’re getting homesick, but there’s also some zydeco. Buckwheat Zydeco wraps up the day at 6:00. Chuck Leavell has played keyboards for The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers Band, and Eric Clapton. He’s put together a band with vocalist Bonnie Bramlett (remember Delaney & Bonnie…THAT Bonnie.) They take the Blues Stage at 4:25.

If you really want to experience New Orleans music, get yourself into the Economy Hall Tent. Always a treat to hear those traditional jazz bands. Banjos, tubas and jazz. If you played clarinet in high school band and thought you were a geek for it, this will be a liberating experience. Bring an umbrella and join the second line. At 3:10 Butch Thompson will present his tribute to the great Jelly Roll Morton, and at 4:40 the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band plays. They are really worth checking out.

The Fais Do Do Stage is like hearing some folks play on their front porch. But they happen to be really talented folks. Outstanding day for great zydeco artists like Gene Delafose at 12:40, the wonderful Chubby Carrier at 2:05, and BeauSoleil at 3:40. Can’t go wrong with any of them. Then at 5:30 it the Texas Tornados with Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyers, and Shawn Sahm. That’s as close as you can get to hearing Sir Douglas Quintet. There will be an interview with them in the grandstand at 3:30.

At this point you’re wondering how you can be at more than two places at once. I know. But get one of yourselves to the Jazz & Heritage Stage for must-see Mardi Gras Indians and Brass Bands. Don’t come home till you’ve witnessed the Indians. At 5:55 the Real Untouchables Brass Band will bring it home. Here they are at last year’s fest.

When I get to the point in my life where someone has to wheel me there in a chair, I’ll just have them drop me off in the gospel tent and pick me up for dinner at 7:00. Even if you’re agnostic, get in there. Holy whatever, it’s an experience. Irma Thomas, soul queen of New Orleans and my fave, will once again do her tribute to Mahalia Jackson at 4:40. That is worth marking on your intenerary. I love seeing the banners with picture of Mahalia at the first Jazz Fest. The whole day is a combination of small groups and big church choirs. Never a dull moment. The day will close with Pastor Jermaine Landrum and the Abundant Praise Revival Choir at 5:45. Abundant praise indeed. Can I get a witness????

Try to see as much as you can. Keep moving and don’t forget your fluids. New food item this year is a fried fish taco. We don’t go there for our health. Crawfish Monica is amazing. Back tomorrow with more recommendations.


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