Our Jazz Fest Picks for the Second Weekend

Welcome to the home stretch! Two more days to go. Here are our thoughts for the second weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Helen Gillet kicks of the intimate Lagniappe Stage on Saturday with her solo act. A lot of people have been using loops since I first saw Theresa Andersson use the technique several years back. But Gillet’s approach is a little different because it seems more organic. It’s as if she’s not using technology at all.

The Blues Tent is going to be on fire when the act billed as Butler, Bernstein and the Hot 9 hit the stage in the middle of the day. The Butler in question is the one and only pianist and vocalist Henry Butler. This act has yet to appear in New Orleans because the players are all New York-based, but I read a review and the critic was positively scorched by the dynamic interplay in the band.

I know all the Fishheads reading this will be heading to hear Ed Volker and Trio Mollusc, but for those less piscine festers, check out Jon Batiste and Stay Human. This pianist and vocalist is the New Orleans-born, New York-based musician formerly known as Jonathan. We have watched him grow into a first class talent even as he shortened his first name. His new album is delightful and I am looking forward to hearing how his sound continues to evolve.

Expect it to be super crowded at the end of the day with the fans of Bruce Springsteen digging into his nearly three-hour set. For something considerably more mellow, consider check out Al Jarreau. This jazz vocalist is one of the true greats.

I always recommend checking out the Mardi Gras Indians on the last day, so Sunday morning, head to the Jazz and Heritage stage for Big Chief Juan Pardo and Jockimo’s Groove. This is the first time Pardo has been billed as “big chief” on the Jazz Fest schedule. In years past he was known as “war chief.” No matter, he’s just a bit older and now fits into a big chief’s suit.

The Deslondes feature some of the musicians that used to be in Hurray For the Riff Raff. It takes some serious dedication to forgo being a part of that band’s national debut in favor of maintaining the momentum of your own career. Here’s to stick-to-it-ness. Let’s see what they have going on at the Lagniappe stage at 12:55 PM.

It’s your last chance to see the second weekend’s Brazilian acts today, so consider checking out Os Negões on the Jazz and Heritage stage at 2:55 PM, or check out the Casa Do Brasil anytime during the day for a final dose of South American culture. After today, you’ll have to head down to Brazil.

The Radiators Return or Arcade Fire? Tough choices abound on the last day.

The final slot on the final day? As with every day at the Jazz Fest, there’s something for everyone. I caught Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (pictured at top) at his debut closing out the fest last year and was impressed by his willingness to take a chance with his lesser known original material. He didn’t have the complete crowd completely until he vaulted the barricades, trombone in hand, and played a blistering solo in the middle of the field.

A tiny group of festers surrounded him, but many thousands made the act famous as they watched it on the big screen. Here’s betting he does it again.

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