The following is a consolidated rundown of some of the best bets for nighttime musical experiences during the Jazz Fest. Quite frankly, it’s an embarrassing orgy of music. The only folks who should be pitied more than the out-of-town readers who can’t make it are the brave souls that do try to catch it all—it will be rough.
Check listings for times. And remember, EVERYTHING is subject to change.
Thursday, April 22
For you early-birds, three-fifths of the world class modern jazz outfit Astral Project (Tony Dagradi, Jim Singleton & John Vidacovich) are playing at 8 p.m. at the Columns Hotel. Or you might want to ease into Fest aboard the Natchez and enjoy dinner and a cruise with the Original Crescent Jazz Band (boards at 6 p.m., sails at 7 p.m.). Al Hirt is in town and is appearing tonight at Jelly Roll’s at 9 p.m.
For a stompin’ good time, second-line with Rebirth Brass Band at Kemp’s. Or if you like your zydeco hot and spicy, you’ve got two top notch bands to choose from: Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas at Mid-City Bowling Lanes and Rockin’ Dopsie at Muddy Waters. Beausoleil is so busy these days that Jazz Fest seems to be one of the few times you can catch this great Cajun band in New Orleans. They’re playing at the Maple Leaf tonight. If you like blues, harp man Rockin’ Jake will be ripping it up at Vic’s Kangaroo Cafe, and the inimitable master of lounge blues, Charles Brown, will be appearing at Tipitina’s at 10 p.m. Austin blues shouter Marcia Ball will be appearing with Walter “Wolfman” Washington at Jimmy’s around 10 p.m.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Beausoleil at the Maple Leaf, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas at Mid-City, and Charles Brown at Tip’s.
Friday, April 23
Where to go, what to do? Tonight you can check out Lafayette’s homegrown brand of young-buck Cajun-spiked rock at the Howlin’ Wolf with the Bluerunners. Or revel in the presence of the legendary Ernie K-Doe appearing with Lenny McDaniel at Jelly Roll’s. Waltz or dance the two-step at Michaul’s with Jean Savoy and Beausoleil or at the Maple Leaf with Dopsie. The King of Clarinet, Pete Fountain, will be appearing at his place on Bourbon Street and the world renowned Dirty Dozen Brass Band will be shakin’ it down at Muddy Waters. The Allman Brothers Band, Fabulous Thunderbirds and John Campbell are kicking off the Jazz Fest night concerts at the Municipal Auditorium and the superb all-woman country band Evangeline will be rockin’ at Rosy’s Big Easy.
For you who like your music less raucous, New Orleans’ father of modern jazz, Ellis Marsalis, will be performing at Snug Harbor and NPR’s Butch Thompson can be seen at the Palm Court Cafe several times during the festival. Tex-Mex lovers will really enjoy the Iguanas at Mid-City, and the Rockin’ Jake Blues Band will be at Checkpoint Charlie’s. For down home blues, Willie Lockett and the Blues Krewe can be found at Rhythms on Bourbon Street Friday through Sunday. If you want to fight the crowd, the Neville Brothers are at Tipitina’s for the next three nights.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Allman Brothers concert at Municipal Auditorium, then Ellis Marsalis at Snug Harbor, and bring it on home with the Iguanas at Mid-City.
Saturday, April 24
Man, oh man, everybody’s playin’ tonight. The Jazz Fest night concert features Patti LaBelle, Johnny Taylor and Louisiana Purchase at the Municipal Auditorium. Legendary local blues picker extraordinaire Snooks Eaglin completes a double bill with the Tan Canary, Johnny Adams, at Mid-City. New Orleans’ colorful darlings, Tribe
Nunzio, will appear at Cafe Brasil and home town favorites the Radiators will bring their fish-head music to Jimmy’s. Terrance Simien will treat the crowd at Muddy Water’s to his unique brand of zydecajun, and Marcia Ball can be seen again at the Maple Leaf. She always gets low down at the Leaf.
Dixieland kings Al Hirt and Pete Fountain both are on stage at Jelly Roll’s and Pete’s place, respectively. Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis holds court at Snug Harbor and the Soul Rebel Brass Band get down at Trombone Shorty’s. For more brass band excitement, the Dirty Dozen is playing again at the Warehouse Cafe. Walter “Wolfman” Washington is at Rosy’s Big Easy just up the street from the crowd getting Neville-ized at Tip’s.
For smoother, more laid back fare, there’s always blues singer Luther Kent at Horizons or country pop singer Mari Serpas at Margaritaville (formerly Storyville). If this ain’t enough, Paul McCartney is appearing at the Superdome!
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Snooks and Johnny at Mid-City, on to the Warehouse Cafe for Dirty Dozen Brass Band and winding down (or up) with the Soul Rebels at Trombone Shorty’s or Marcia Ball at the Maple Leaf.
Sunday, April 25
Sunday is the perfect day to ease into the week with some good gospel. It doesn’t get any better than the Friendly
Travelers, who will be appearing at Cafe Brasil starting at 6 p.m. The Jazz Fest night concert is headlined by Grover Washington and presents “New Orleans Night” with Danny Barker, Alvin Batiste, Harold Battiste, Germaine Bazzle, Edward “Kidd” Jordan, Ellis Marsalis and the Heritage School of Music. For you traditionalists, the Olympia Brass Band will be at Preservation Hall. The Warehouse Cafe is serving up salsa with its “Latin Jazz Festival” featuring Acoustic Swiftness and others. The Queen of Entertainment, Charmaine Neville can be found at Snug Harbor and Dad Charles and uncles Art, Cyril and Aaron (the Neville Brothers) will be at Tip’s for their last club appearance during Fest. Indefinable guitarist Anders Osborne will be at Margaritaville and Walter “Wolfman” Washington will be at Trombone Shorty’s. One half of Cowboy Mouth—Fred LeBlanc and Paul Sanchez—will be carrying on acoustically at The Howlin’ Wolf.
But tonight is really blues night, and if you’re a big-time blues lover, you’re going to be hard pressed to catch all the exceptional blues around town tonight. You can find blues harp player Andy J. Forest at Carrollton Station and blues belter Marva Wright at Club Second Line. Marva is performing several times this week, so you’ll have the opportunity to catch her at a later date. If you’re hanging in the French Quarter don’t forget about Willie Lockett at Rhythms. Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Treme Brass Band are at Trombone Shorty’s. But the hard choice will be between the OffBeat-sponsored “Blues Harmonica Showdown” at Mid-City or Alligator Records Night at Muddy Waters, featuring Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Kenny Neal and Tinsley Ellis. Whew!
RECOMMENDED ROUTE (this one is tough): Friendly Travelers at Cafe Brasil, Willie Lockett and the Blues Krewe at
Rhythms, get something to eat, the “Blues Harmonica Showdown” at Mid-City (for an hour or so), the Alligator Show at Muddy Waters (for an hour or so), then top it off with the Neville Brothers at Tipitina’s (you have to see them in a club to be properly Neville-ized).
Monday, April 26
Tonight is a great night to see some premier gospel at the Saenger Theater (Jazz Fest night concert) with John P. Kee & the New Life Community Choir, the Dorothy Love Coates Singers and New Creation Baptist Church Mass Choir. If you haven’t caught Snooks yet, he’ll be appearing with George Porter, Jr. at The Howlin’ Wolf and the Soul Rebels will appear again, this time at Kemp’s. Marva will be singin’ the blues at Muddy Waters and AI Hirt will again be entertaining at Jelly Roll’s. Allen Fontenot will be two-steppin’ at Michaul’s. For a special treat, you must hear Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots serve up blues and zydeco at the Maple Leaf, or check out Paul Cebar and the
Milwaukeeans (Milwaukee/New Orleans rhythm & blues!! It works!) at Mid-City.
One of New Orleans’ finest young jazz lions, saxophonist Victor Goines, will be swingin’ at Snug Harbor and that once-a-year special event, “Piano Night,” will be happening at Tip’s with Ellis Marsalis, Allen Toussaint, Marcia Ball and others. Drummer Shannon Powell (who plays with Harry Connick, Jr.) and friends will make a rare appearance in town at Joe’s Cozy Corner.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Al Hirt at Jelly Roll’s, on to Mid-City to check out Paul Cebar, and finish the night at the Maple Leaf with Sunpie.
Tuesday, April 27
A good example of the diversity of New Orleans music is the Middle Eastern sounds of the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, appearing at Cafe Brasil. Klezmer music is Yiddish folk music (a la with a New Orleans twist here). For you steel band aficionados, PAN-ASHE Steel Band and Sampa-core Tropical Quartet will be appearing across the street at Cafe Istanbul. Walter “Wolfman” is at Muddy Waters, Marva is at Club Second Line, and that great second-line bluesman and slide guitar player, John Mooney, will be appearing at Jimmy’s. Paul Cebar makes his last club appearance on a double bill with Rebirth at the Maple Leaf and Pete Fountain can be seen at his French Quarter club again tonight. Rockin’ Jake holds down late night at Benny’s.
The Jazz Fest night concert presents Wynton Marsalis and the Duke Ellington Orchestra conducted by Mercer Ellington at the Sheraton Grand Ballroom. Charmaine Neville gets sassy at Snug and the Funkmasters themselves,
the Meters, are at Tip’s.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Start in the Quarter with a little bit of Marva Wright at Club Second Line and then over to
Frenchmen Street for the Klezmers at Cafe Brasil. Then move uptown and catch Mooney at Jimmy’s, and Rockin’ Jake after that at Benny’s (a must experience).
Wednesday, April 28
So many tunes, so little time. For you rhythm freaks, the New Orleans Drum Association will be at Cafe Istanbul. Cajun picker Bruce Daigrepont will be playing Mulate’s and Charmaine will be appearing again, this time at Maxwell’s. New Orleans’ most alternative music club, the R.C. Bridge Lounge, will be showcasing Meathook, and the Radiators will be doing it acoustically at Rosy’s Big Easy. Pete Fountain is on stage again at his place and Ellis Marsalis will be performing at the UNO Sandbar. Tip’s is hosting the Meters again and Mid-City is featuring a terrific double bill with zydeco master C.J. Chenier and Marva Wright.
The Jazz Fest night concert presents Nina Simone, McCoy Tyner Big Band, and the Alvin Batiste Sextet at the Sheraton Grand Ballroom. Another special jazz event will take place at Snug Harbor—called “New Orleans Voices,” it boasts Germaine Bazzle, Phillip Manuel and Tami Lynn. The Iguanas are at the Maple Leaf and Phil DeGruy, Leigh “Lil’ Queenie” Harris, John Magnie (from the subdudes) and Cranston Clements are at the Howlin’ Wolf. The annual Blacktop Records Blues-O-Rama takes place at Jimmy’s and features Earl King, Bobby Parker, Robert Ward, Maria Muldaur, Clarence Hollimon, Lynn August & Hot August Knights and Carol Fran. Rebirth is at Trombone Shorty’s.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Start at Mulate’s with Bruce Daigrepont then catch the early “New Orleans Voice” show at
Snug. Slide over to Jimmy’s for a bit of Blues-O-Rama and funk it up with the Meters at Tip’s.
Thursday, April 29
Reggae lovers must catch lrie Vibrations at Charlie B’s and Cajun lovers should head over to the Maple Leaf and hear Filé. George Porter, Jr. will be rippin’ the roof off of Muddy Waters, Tribe Nunzio will be at the Warehouse Cafe, and Rockin’ Jake will be at the Siam. K-Doe and Lenny McDaniel are at Jelly Roll’s and Rockin’ Dopsie will be doin’ that rubboard thang at Jimmy’s. Woodenhead will be making a rare New Orleans appearance at Rosy’s Big Easy. Charles Neville’s wonderful jazz band, Diversity, will be mesmerizing the Snug Harbor crowd and the Rounder Records Zydeco Party with Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, John Delafose and Beau Jocque will take place at Mid-City. Blues lovers can catch Troy Turner & Third Gear at Vic’s Kangaroo Cafe.
“Dew Drop Inn Revisited” at the Sheraton Grand Ballroom is tonight’s Jazz Fest night concert and Marva Wright, Lloyd “Mr. Personality” Price, Benny Spellman, George French, Roland Stone, Wardell Quezergue and Bobby Marchan will be appearing. Marcia Ball makes her last Fest club appearance on the bill with zydeco king Boozoo
Chavis and Rebirth at Tip’s. Dopsie is at Jimmy’s. And the genre-bending alternative James Hall Band is at the Howlin’ Wolf.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Charles Neville at Snug Harbor (early show), on to the Warehouse Cafe and Tribe
Nunzio, and end the evening uptown at Muddy Water’s with George Porter, Jr. or, if you haven’t caught Rockin’ Dopsie yet, at Jimmy’s.
Friday, April 30
Getting tired yet? Still three more fun-filled days and nights. Tonight, go south of the border with the Iguanas at
Cafe Brasil and Pedro Cruz and the Ruben “Mr. Salsa” Gonzalez Show at Café Istanbul. Maria “Midnight at the Oasis” MuIdaur headlines at the Howlin’ Wolf with local country songstress Mari Serpas opening. K-Doe and Lenny
McDaniel at Jelly Roll’s again and Rockin’ Dopsie makes his last club appearance during Fest. If you haven’t seen him yet, tonight’s the night. The fabulous subdudes bring their wonderful, uncategorizable roots music to Margaritaville and Al Hirt stomps ‘em down at Maxwell’s for his last Fest appearance. Buckwheat Zydeco makes his one and only club appearance at Muddy Water’s tonight. Steve Riley, one of the great up-and-coming young Cajun musicians (his third Rounder album will be out soon) will show off at Mulate’s and Pete Fountain again performs at his club. Zachary Richard makes the first of two club appearances at Rosy’s Big Easy while up the block the Rads go fishing at Tip’s. For some great blues, check out Smoky Logg & the Flame Throwers at Vic’s Kangaroo Cafe. Johnny
Adams appears with David Torkanowsky (piano man for Astral Project) at Snug Harbor and the Dirty Dozen Brass
Band squeeze into the Warehouse Cafe for fun and funk. There’s a late night (midnight) jam session at Charlie B’s with John Stubblefield, Billy Harper, Earl Gardner, Avery Sharpe, Aaron Scott and others. Mojo Hand opens for Marcia Ball in her last club appearance at Jimmy’s and the Jazz Fest night concert presents an amazing line-up at the Municipal Auditorium featuring Terrance Simien, Los Lobos and the Neville Brothers.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: You must see Pete Fountain if you haven’t yet. Then, as long as you’re in the Quarter, sit in for a set of the subdudes at Margaritaville. Stop in the Warehouse District to hear Maria MuIdaur and start heading uptown. Catch a set of Zak Richard at Rosy’s and wrap up the night with Buckwheat Zydeco at Muddy Waters.
Saturday, May 1
Too much fun. Too much music. NEVER! If you haven’t heard Bryan Lee at the Absinthe Bar, this French Quarter institution is a must hear. The dance party that is Tribe Nunzio plays for the last time during J-Fest at Cafe Brasil and Marva belts her blues once more at Club Second Line. Jazz singer extraordinaire Germaine Bazzle appears with Carl
Franklin at Hotel Inter-Continental and, for something completely different, you can marvel at the wild antics of Cowboy Mouth at Jimmy’s. Walter “Wolfman” Washington wails at the Maple Leaf downwind from the Dirty Dozen at
Muddy Waters (their last club appearance), with Johnny J and O.L.D. If you didn’t catch Zachary Richard last night, tonight’s your last chance at Margaritaville. The Iguanas roll with the bowlers at Mid-City and the raunchy ravings of
bluesman J. Monque ‘D can be heard at the Rivershack.
Woodenhead heads out after tonight so catch ‘em at Rosy’s, Pete Fountain plays for the last time during Fest at his place and ditto for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Muddy Water’s. Traditional jazz lovers can hear the real thing at Preservation Hall with the Humphrey Brothers and modern jazz lovers have one last (Fest) chance to hear Ellis Marsalis at Snug Harbor. If you haven’t had a chance yet to hear Rebirth, tonight’s your last opportunity at the Warehouse Cafe. Same holds true for Rockin’ Jake, who will be appearing at the Siam on Esplanade.
The Jazz Fest night concert again outdoes itself with a stellar lineup at the Municipal Auditorium: Santana, King
Sunny Ade and the Meters (damn!).
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: All of the above. OK, OK—The Jazz Fest Night Concert is too good to miss. Uptown to Jimmy’s for a set by Cowboy Mouth, catch a few moments of Walter “Wolfman” Washington at the Maple Leaf, then crawl on your hands and knees to the Rivershack and get rejuvenated by J. Monque ‘D. Or, if you can’t make it to Jefferson Parish, go to Tip’s and boogie ‘til dawn with the Radiators.
Sunday, May 2
Alright, you’ve made it this far. You’re a walking zombie, so it’s no holds barred. Last call (if there were such a thing in New Orleans). Walter “Wolfman” Washington bounces his howl off the tin walls at Cafe Brasil. Cyril Neville & the Uptown All Stars bring you the only second-line reggae band in the world at Jimmy’s. Marva again holds court at Muddy Water’s and there’s an open jazz jam at Kemp’s (remember, there’s lots of musicians in town so you just never know who may show up). Butch Thompson makes his last Fest appearance at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe, George Porter, Jr. & the Runnin’ Pardners close out Fest at Rosy’s Big Easy, and the Iguanas compete at Tip’s. Treme Brass Band is at Trombone Shorty’s and if you can’t get yourself out of the French Quarter, have a beer at
Rhythms and enjoy Willie Lockett and the Blues Krewe.
The last Jazz Fest night concert, “La Noche Latina,” is at the State Palace Theater and presents Los Sabrosos del
Merengue and Nueva Generacion.
RECOMMENDED ROUTE: Butch Thompson at the Palm Court, uptown to Jimmy’s for Cyril Neville, and curiosity would send us Mid-City for the jam session at Kemp’s. Go home. Go to sleep for several days.
Until next year…