Weekend Shots, Jazz Fest Edition Part One!

Today I have the picks for Saturday and Sunday. Saturday is bound to be one of the most crowded days with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers making their first appearance at the Fairgrounds. It’s on days like this that I recommend “going where they’re not.”

However, if you’re bound and determined to see Petty, get to the Acura stage bright and early (the gates open at 11 AM) and check out Empress Hotel. They are one of a rising number of indie bands that hail from Louisiana. My colleague at TVD NOLA, Ariane, likes them a lot.

The first big conflict of the day emerges in the second time slot. I have raved a lot in this space about Khris Royal and Dark Matter and Marc Stone interviewed me last week about my new book, so it’s hard to choose, but you really can’t go wrong with either act. Of course, you could split the difference and also check out Big Chief Walter Cook (pictured) and the Creole Wild West. They are the oldest Mardi Gras Indian gang and always come strong with many adults and kids resplendent in colorful suits.

I always lobby strongly for African bands at the Jazz Fest and the booking of Cheikh Lo of Senegal is a major coup for the organizers of the fete. He is a charismatic performer and is bound to impress even the most jaded music fans. Check him out on the Congo Square stage at 1:40 PM.

The second-to-last time slot also has me in knots due to the conflicts. Bobby Rush and his big booty dancers, the brass band super group, the Midnite Disturbers or the Carolina Chocolate Drops? I missed the African American string band at the first Jazz Fest performance, so the Drops may get the call. But who knows? On the crowded days, I sometimes led the music lead me.

Sunday comes early the first weekend and like Friday I recommend starting your day with a dose of the Mardi Gras Indians. Big Chief Larry Bannock (pictured parading) of the Golden Star Hunters has been in ill health, but only incapacitation will keep him from making this gig. He’s one of the legends; don’t miss it.

Indie rock pioneer (before there was such a genre) Alex Chilton died a year ago and we still miss his ethereal presence. Some of his musical friends are presenting a tribute. With Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum leading the band and New Orleans’ own Alex McMurray, Susan Cowsill, Doug Garrison, and Rene Coman on board, this one just may make your heart ache.

At 3 PM you’ll find me at the Jazz and Heritage stage checking out the Debo Band. They are billed as an Ethiopian Groove Collective and that means some serious dancing will be going on. Read my review on Monday to see how I enjoyed them.

The final slot on Sunday is ridiculous. The behemoth is Bruce Springsteen with a rare 2-½ hour allotment. Janelle Monae, Al Green and Nicholas Payton are also playing, not to mention Tab Benoit, Don Vappie, and Sun Pie Barnes’ Accordion Summit. But I’ll be at Kirk Joseph’s Tuba Tuba. How often have you seen more than one tuba on stage at the same time? Plus, did I mention that “go where they’re not” is my motto? See you there!

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