Jazz Fest 2014: A closer look at the “cubes”

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Now that everyone has had a chance to make an initial pass through the Jazz Fest lineup, it’s time to dig a little deeper beyond the obvious. Here are a few thoughts about each of the seven days.

On the first Friday, Ruben Blades and the Roberto Delgado Orchestra precede Santana. This is fest booking at its best. Blades is best known, if he is known at all to the younger generation, as an actor. But he is also a great musician. His set will educate fans about Latin music before one of the icons takes the stage.

On the first Saturday, Phish takes over the Acura stage for a full three hours. I may be incorrect, but I believe this is the longest set any single act has ever had at the Jazz Fest. Their cube looks incredibly strange—five tiny letters on a huge field of white.

On the first Sunday, Bombino, an amazing guitarist/vocalist and performer from Niger in Africa, returns to the Jazz Fest. But he is booked again in the Blues Tent. Please powers-that-be—let us dance during his set. I remember leaving the last time he performed because of the overwhelming negative energy from the blues “fans.” If I could feel it, so could the band.

Thursday, May 1, is Slacker’s Day. But don’t be slack—get there early enough to catch the Forgotten Souls Brass Band. This super group, made up of members of the best brass bands in town, only plays once a year.

Ditto for the second Friday. The Red Hawk Hunters represent the cream of the crop of 21st century Mardi Gras Indians. They hit early at 11:15 AM.

Both the Acura and the Samsung Galaxy stage on the second Saturday are fine examples of the thought and effort spent on designing the schedule. Check it out and leave a comment if you know what I mean.

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Last year, Trombone Shorty closed out the Acura stage and Aaron Neville filled the final slot on the Gentilly stage (now Samsung Galaxy). This year, John Fogerty closes along with Troy. Aaron Neville is the second-to-last performer in the Blues Tent. Hmmm….

Finally spend some time scouring the Internet to learn about all the Brazilian bands playing at the fest. The musical styles of the South American country are as deep and broad as ours, and Jazz Fest has seen fit to bring a ton of music here.

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