Our Jazz Fest Picks
for Day One, 4/27

PHOTO: DENNIS McDONOUGH | Here we go again! It’s time to start figuring out where you’ll be when the gates of the 2018 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival open at 11 AM on Friday. Regular readers know I tend to highlight some of the lesser-known acts for our picks every day. You know where to look if you need to find out about the big acts. The full schedule is here.

Conflicts are inevitable at the Jazz Fest and the opening slot on the first Friday is no exception. Michael Skinkus and Moyuba are a great and spiritual way to start the day on the intimate Jazz and Heritage stage. Skinkus is one of the city’s top percussionists and his group plays the sacred sounds of Afro-Cuban music associated with Santeria religious devotion.

For something a bit more contemporary, New Orleans blues and roots master guitarist Spencer Bohren and the Whippersnappers are just the ticket. This band features the veteran with a young-ish band that includes his son, drummer Andre. World music lovers will also have to make a choice in the 1:30 PM time slot. Local resident and Cuban native Alexey Marti brings his hot band into the Jazz Tent.

If you live in New Orleans, you have plenty of opportunities to see Marti, so consider checking out Sidi Touré of Mali. Mali has a deep and lengthy musical history with some truly inspiring acts. The 59-year-old singer/songwriter plays guitar and will be accompanied by more traditional African instruments like the kora.

Head back to the Jazz and Heritage stage for the New Orleans Nightcrawlers. I just saw this all-star brass band at the French Quarter Festival. They don’t play too often but sounded as if they had already played a full set. They were on fire!

Samantha Fish (pictured at top) has been winning awards since she was a youngster fascinated with the blues. Her sets are dynamic with stellar guitar work. Fish has been living in New Orleans for some time now and we are proud to call her our own.

For more stringed prowess, as well as a little overlap with Fish’s set, check out ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. His set is the only non-south Louisiana act playing on the Fais Do Do stage on Friday and he will undoubtedly draw a big crowd intent on seeing his fleet fingers on the tiny instrument.

Unless there’s one headliner I have to see, I always leave the last slot of the day wide open and let the winds of Jazz Fest take me around the perimeter track. Sting is the consummate showman who will put on a great set, but Sturgill Simpson has local saxophonist Brad Walker in his band, and Steel Pulse are reggae legends. Of course, bluesman Bobby Rush is a legend too. See you on the field.

Tomorrow—weekend picks!

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