Weekend Shots,
Jazz Fest Edition, Part 2

The final two days of the 2012 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival are packed with talent. There are hundreds of musicians scheduled to perform and what follows are my picks. I am highlighting acts that you may not be familiar with but ought to consider checking out.

Mas Mamones is a Cuban-inspired band made up of New Orleans musicians who typically play in other genres. They were a central part of the Frenchmen Street scene in the 1990s that is documented in my new book. Get yours here. After a long hiatus they are back with danceable sounds and killer musicianship. They hit bright and early on the Acura stage on Saturday.

If the crowds don’t get you then the Fishheads will because the Malone Brothers (pictured) follow Mas Mamones leading up to the big peak of the Eagles closing the Acura stage. 

It’s wonderful that the booking team at the Jazz Fest is so inclusive. How else can you explain the presence of a mariachi group on the Fairgrounds? With the increasing presence of Latin Americans in the United States, this group, Mariachi Jalisco, should be an opportunity to see what our neighbors to the south bring to the musical table.

Keeping the international vibe going on a day that is bound to be super-crowded with My Morning Jacket opposite the Eagles in the closing slot, I plan to check out Bombino of Niger on the Jazz and Heritage stage. The African continent percolates with talent though I don’t think we have ever seen a band from Niger on a Jazz Fest stage. Check out the video if you are on the fence.

The Black Feather Mardi Gras Indian tribe lost their long time big chief Lionel Delpit last summer. Some of the members chose not to mask this year as a way of honoring their well-respected leader. But they are on stage; so don’t miss this chance to see some of the most intricate suits made in the downtown, three-dimensional style.

As I have already mentioned, the final slot on Saturday is jammed with talent and the Fairgrounds will be jammed as well. Consider heading over to the intimate Lagniappe stage for the set by the Hot Club of New Orleans. They are one of my favorite bands and bring ace musicianship and telepathic interplay to the musical table.

Start your day on Sunday with the Mardi Gras Indian intensity and spirit of Jockimo’s Groove. War Chief Juan Pardo (pictured), one the most exciting of the newest generation of black Indians, leads the band.

I don’t often recommend rock acts at the Jazz Fest, but with the first-ever appearance of New Orleans metal icons, Zebra last weekend, I may as well suggest checking out Supagroup if you feel like rocking. Two brothers from Alaska founded the band when they moved to New Orleans and they rock out with lyrics that sometimes seem to have tongue firmly planted in cheek.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Jazz Tent will be bristling with energy for the Living Tribute to Harold Battiste. I recently read the educator/producer/musician’s autobiography and I was moved to tears. Peers like Ells Marsalis will be joined by his former students in a showcase of his music and career. They are giving him his flowers before he’s gone.

Ed Volker retired from the Radiators and the band disbanded. After a year out of the spotlight, he is back and performing on the Lagniappe stage. He recently played at the Maple Leaf Bar with the percussionist Michael Skinkus and the great improvisational saxophonist Tim Green. I expect they both will join him here.

Fans of the Radiators will be feeling bittersweet as the last slot rolls around on the final day of Jazz Fest 2012. The band closed out the fest on the Gentilly stage for nearly 20 years. Quint Davis, the producer/director of the fest, has stated that since no one can replace the Rads, the slot will rotate among worthy acts.

This year, it’s the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (pictured) celebrating their 50th anniversary with lots of like-minded friends—some of whom you’ve likely heard of including Allen Toussaint, Ani DiFranco, Jim James, Steve Earle, Trombone Shorty and Bonnie Raitt.

Have a great fest and don’t forget to (shameless plug) buy my book!


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