TVD’s Jazz Fest Picks
for Day One, 4/29

It’s been three long years of stops and starts and teases as the fine folks at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival have tried to manage the pandemic. This includes two scheduled fall dates, meaning we have theoretically missed out on four chances to dance at the New Orleans Fairgrounds. I’m back at it for the next two weeks with picks and reviews.

One of the hallmarks of the Jazz Fest is conflict in each time slot over the course of the eight hours of music each day. Festers interested in the traditional sounds of New Orleans will have to make their first decision early. The Shake ‘Em Up Brass Band is lined up alongside the Semolian Warriors Black Indian tribe.

Shake ‘Em Up is an all-female brass band, the second in the city as far as I know, along with the venerable Pinettes Brass Band. The Semolian Warriors are a relatively new tribe led by Big Chief Yam. They are an uptown-based gang.

For even more traditional roots music, check out Michael Skinkus and Moyuba. This band takes its cues from the Yoruba culture of Africa as it was transferred via the Middle Passage to Cuba. Skinkus is one of the best percussionists to ever call the Crescent City home.

In keeping with the African roots of New Orleans music and the Jazz Fest, head over to the Blues Tent for Bombino of Niger at 1:30 PM. Bombino (pictured below) is part of the new generation of musicians known for turning the desert blues of the Sahel into electric guitar gold. His solos are not to be missed. He also plays later in the day at the Cultural Exchange Pavilion, the intimate tent on the infield.

Fans of the African diaspora also can make their way to the Cultural Exchange Pavilion for Kizaba (pictured at top). This group is listed as from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Canada and is led by its namesake singer Lionel Kizaba. Their music is not specifically aligned with Congolese roots but is more in the vein of electro hip hop with traditional beats.

Boyfriend has been expanding her self-described rap-cabaret by adding live instruments. Though she has always had musicians on stage with her at Jazz Fest, that has not always been the case on other gigs. Recently, appearances with rockers the Revivalists and members of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band have made her sound more organic. Her sets at Jazz Fest are over the top with dancers, costume changes, and tons of props.

The last slot on the first Friday features R&B icon Lionel Richie, reggae legends Third World, and indie rock darlings Death Cab for Cutie among others. But I am going with the War and the Treaty. This husband and wife band plays heartfelt soul and was the most talked about act at the last Jazz Fest we all experienced.

Tomorrow—Weekend Picks!

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