If you’re heading to New Orleans this weekend, here are some recommendations for Sunday at the fairgrounds. Make sure you check out the blogs posted for Friday and Saturday. Print and pack. Also, when you get there, seek and find an OffBeat Magazine. It’s the bible. If you’re at a hotel, check with the concierge. They also have a website and app at the iTunes store. Love technology.
When you see Sunday’s lineup you’ll know why regulars never fly home Sunday. Don’t wanna miss this. The Acura Stage will be jammed because Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are the headliners at 4:30. But they are playing till 7:00 so you can check them out and still see some local musicians. Or you might want to camp there all day. Trombone Shorty And Orleans Avenue take the stage at 12:45. Troy Andrews is one of the hottest of the young New Orleans musicians…for good reason. He’s followed at 2:30 by Dr. John & Lower 911. Mac has always been worth seeing, for decades, but even more now because his new album, Locked Down, is one of his best and selling like hotcakes. Don’t miss the Doctor.
Couple of highlights at the Gentilly Stage. At 12:45 it will be a Tribute to Alex Chilton featuring Dave Pirner, Alex McMurray, Susan Cowsill, and others. Yes, Dave from Soul Asylum and Susan from The Cowsills. Don’t laugh. She’s great. She’s a local and is talented and a lot of fun. I’m sure they’ll do some cool Box Tops songs in that set. At 3:55 it’s one of New Orleans finest rock ‘n’ roll bands, Cowboy Mouth.
The Reverend will not be in the Gospel Tent. He’ll be at Congo Square. Rev. Al Green will bring that amazing Memphis soul sound to the Square at 5:40. Sometimes he makes the audience do all the work, but if he’s up for singing, you should see him at least once in your life. He handed me a rose at a Soundstage taping a hundred years ago. One of the highlights of my life.
The Jazz Tent is a great place for music and a break from the sun. While Wynton Marsalis is in Chicago for some gigs at Symphony Center, his daddy will be playing in the Jazz tent. The great Ellis Marsalis is a great citizen of New Orleans, music educator, father of some amazing musicians, and he has the time an energy to be a fantastic pianist. He’s there at 1:30. at 4:05 is Dianne Reeves, and excellent vocalist who adds some R&B to her jazz stylings. Even played her on Breakfast With The Beatles a few times. She’s done some excellent Lennon-McCartney covers. She will be interviewed at 1:00 in the grandstand. I always learn a ton from those interviews. Especially good when you’re hot and tired and just need a second wind. And you can never hear too much brass in NOLA. The great trumpet player Nicholas Payton is the headliner at 5:45.
Strong lineup and lots of variety in the Blues Tent. At 12:30 it will be a mix of blues, African and reggae sounds with Phil Wiggins & Corey Harris. At 1:50 it’s one of the locals you’ll never see up North…Ironin’ Board Sam. Ween yourself from longtime favorites once in awhile to check out some local talent. You traveled so far…. At 3:05 it’s longtime Louisiana and XRT favorite Sonny Landreth. There’s going to be some great guitar playing in the tent on Sunday, and he’s one of the reasons it will be a stand out day. The big buzz this year has been Gary Clark Jr. You can find out what all the fuss is about at 4:30. Tab Benoit is the headliner. He’s a Louisiana guy who not only sings and plays some wicked guitar, but also is active helping the homeless, the environment and other issues. I’ve been on the Blues Cruise with him, and some of my traveling companions have fantasized out loud about having his children. Lord have mercy.
Speaking of the Lord, even Bill Mahr would love the Gospel Tent. They don’t call that music “spiritual” for nothing. New Orleans’ own Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir will close the tent for the first weekend, going on at 6:05. Don’t stay away because the names of the artists are unfamiliar to you. Get in there and let the music move you. It will.
The Economy Hall Tent is the place to hear traditional New Orleans Jazz. Please get there at least once during the weekend. If you’ve been watching the excellent Treme series on HBO, you can hear some jazz from that neighborhood with the Treme Brass band at 2:50, followed at 4:20 by one of the greatest Dixieland players of all time, Pete Fountain. Yea, he’s still alive. 82 years old. Get in there.
It would be easy to spend the whole day at the Fais Do Do stage. Some classic cajun by one of the greats, Hadley J. Castillo at 11:20 AM, followed by Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys at 12:40, then at 2:05 if Clifton’s kid, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band with some zydeco, at 3:35 Iron and Wine, yes the same Iron and Wine you’ve been hearing on XRT, and at 5:35 a big old international accordion summit. Really. I would go to a festival just to see this line up on one stage.
Please please please do not come back up North without seeing some Mardi Gras Indians. And Sunday you can see the great Big Chief Monk Boudreax & The Golden Eagles 4:30 at the Jazz and Heritage Stage. They will also have lots of tubas and Ethiopian music. Cool.
And I haven’t sent you to the Lagniappe Stage yet. It’s in the grandstand area, and this Catholic girl highly recommends getting there at 3:45 for the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars. Trust me. Really.
I’ve got to pack. See you there. Don’t think I’ll be offended if you buy me a Birthday drink. Let the good times roll.