So you’re in town for Jazz Fest and want to spend every waking moment seeing live music? Hell, that’s easy. What we’re offering here is a timetable for the truly intrepid, those who prefer not to sleep at all. Is it possible to go 24/7, and literally rock around the clock?
The day we’ve picked for our 24-hour challenge is the Wednesday between Fest weekends—the day when some Fest-goers prefer to take a rest, is also one that offers plenty of musical opportunities. So, we’re going to start bright and early, and see how long we can keep it up. And we suggest you start this challenge with a large group of various runnin’ partners, since some are bound to stay at one location for much of the duration.
11 a.m.: We’ve allowed you time to stock up with a good brunch, but this is traditionally when the stage starts heating up at the Louisiana Music Factory. The Frenchmen Street store’s schedule was not available as of this writing (see their ad elsewhere in this issue), but all three days between Fest weekends are full of hourly performances by recognizable local names; and they’ll all have new CD’s to promote, since they do this gig for free. It’s no crime to plant yourself here until the evening, with intermittent jaunts over to your favorite Frenchman spot for libations.
Speaking of Frenchmen, the music also gets going there at around 12 p.m. Or you can take a side trip into the Marigny to see Raphael Bas, the singer, guitarist, and harmonica player (and leader of the currently-dormant band Harmonouche) holds court. His fluid acoustic playing is a perfect tonic for this time of day, and Bacchanal’s rustic courtyard may be the most relaxing place you’ll find yourself all day.
Some of this week’s offerings are mighty ambitious, and one starts at 1 p.m., when the music begins at NOLA Brewing’s Cosmic Crawfish Ball. They’ve got a full lineup that begins with Billy Iuso—the roots-rocking guitarist/songwriter who’s been on fire for quite a few years now—and winds up long after sunset with DMD, a jam band with Daru Jones of Jack White’s band, Doug Wimbush of Living Colour, and lots of other heavy hitters. Like many of the jam bands that form at this time of year, DMD can be counted on to stretch out at length.
Yet another mini-festival opens at 3 p.m., at the Central City BBQ. Their “NOLA Crawfish Festival” has a mighty lineup including Samantha Fish and Anders Osborne. Plus you’ve got the double whammy of crawfish boil plus BBQ joint, meaning your food intake for the next 24 hours will be well taken care of.
Once you get into the mid-afternoon, you don’t have to work too hard to catch some local headliners. Blues wailer Johnny Sansone starts up at SideBar at 3 p.m., and Davis Rogan, a.k.a. DJ Davis, a sharp and witty songwriter, plays Starlight at 5 p.m. Or go back to Frenchmen and plop yourself at d.b.a., where the Tin Men (Alex McMurray, Washboard Chaz and Matt Perrine) play one of their always hot sets at 4 p.m., before the Iguanas rock the house starting at seven. In between those sets, you can run over to Bamboula’s, where world-class bluesman Mem Shannon holds court starting at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, doors open around 7:30 p.m. at the House of Blues for Trombone Shorty’s Shortyfest, which features an all-star, brass band-centric lineup including the Soul Rebels, New Breed, and Erica Falls, plus students from Shorty’s own music academy, and a funk/Indian collaboration between the New Orleans Suspects and the Golden Comanches. With Shorty playing his own set to conclude the show, this one should last well into the wee hours. And if you want to get away from a club situation, the terrific alt-Cajun band Sweet Crude plays at the Ogden Museum at 7 p.m. You can even get some fresh air and daylight with your music if you go see Deacon John who played on a stack of classic vinyl, at Lafayette Square.
So, now that you’ve been at this for a good 12 hours, prime time at the clubs is just about to come around. The venerable Radiators are at the Civic—that show sold out months ago though, so good luck. More accessible options include funky pianist Jon Cleary doing a lower-key solo show at Chickie Wah Wah, or the Creole String Beans, who possess an endless repertoire of buried swamp-pop treasures and similarly-styled originals, at the Rock ’n’ Bowl.
By now you’ve stretched it well into the a.m., but you’re still determined to stay out all damn night? No problem. The Honey Island Swamp Band are headlining the Rock ’n’ Bowl, and they’re always at their best when they take the opportunity to stretch out. Not only that, they’ve got an opening band (the Cris Jacobs Band), so this 12:30 a.m. show should easily last all-night. Also at the Rock ’n’ Bowl, the Bayou Gypsies—yet another jam-based supergroup, this one a trio with Terence Higgins, Tony Hall, and Roosevelt Collier—is set to start at 2 a.m., to carry you on until daylight.
Between roughly 6-10 a.m., the first band should be hitting the stage at the Seahorse Saloon, across the street from the Fair Grounds, while the rest of the city’s clubs shut down for a few hours to clean up. If you’re determined to stretch this for the full 24 hours, you best options are probably to prowl the Quarter for the first buskers that set up, or sit by the river and listen to the calliope. But since you’ve been clubbing since yesterday morning, isn’t it time to duck home for a quick shower? Nah, you’re headed straight back to the fairgrounds, where nobody’s going to care.