While the Fair Grounds go quiet during the “daze between” New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival weekends, the city remains abuzz with music and celebration all week long. On Tuesday, new music festival Daze Between New Orleans—presented by Live For Live Music, Purple Hat Productions, GMP Live, and Rose Tours—offered mid-week revelers an exciting destination, hosting performances by The String Cheese Incident (featuring surprise guest Billy Strings and more), Snarky Puppy, Erica Falls, Nicholas Payton, Eric Krasno & Friends, and Benny & The Late Bloomers.
Daze Between New Orleans 2022 Official Recap Video
Mid-afternoon Bayou sunshine beat down on fans as they filtered into the sprawling grounds of Faubourg Brewery, a lush, green oasis in the mostly-industrial New Orleans East area. With stages situated at either end of the brewery lawn and gourmet food trucks, art vendors, a Frenchy gallery, lawn games, and more lining its perimeter, the festival took on the atmosphere of a laid-back day in the park. As sets alternated between the main stage and a second stage at opposite ends of the lawn, attendees strolled the premises throughout the day, sampling the beer offerings in Faubourg’s stylish taproom—including a special “Daze Between Beer” (try one, they’re fantastic)—lounging in the shade of the tree-lined pond, or popping inside the stately, red brick brewery facility for some oysters and other local cuisine courtesy of “strEATery” Fete Au Fete.
An early afternoon set by Benny & The Late Bloomers, the New Orleans-centric passion project of Lettuce trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom, got the Daze Between festivities rolling. Rounded out by Brad Walker on sax, Ari Teitel on guitar, Eric Vogel on bass, Alvin Ford Jr. on drums, and Andriu Yanovski on keys, the Late Bloomers provided an impeccable appetizer for a long day of music to come. Bloom was in his element throughout, keeping attendees laughing with his patented, Tony Clifton-style schtick and wowing them with his abilities both on the horn and on the mic. While this was his party, Bloom was generous with the spotlight, jumping on keys with Yanovski while Walker took a scorching sax solo and trading lines with his Lettuce bandmate, keyboardist Nigel Hall, when he sauntered onstage mid-set.
Eric Krasno & Friends broke the ice on the festival’s main stage next. Backed by a talented band featuring a slew of his The Assembly cohorts (organist Wil Blades, guitarist James the Eighth, and drummer Curtis Kelley) as well as trumpeter/vocalist Jennifer Hartswick, the band worked through a number of recent songs and fan-favorites from Krasno’s repertoire. Guests floated in and out throughout the set, with Nigel Hall jumping in to sing lead on “Leave Me Alone“, Snarky Puppy’s Chris Bullock joining in on sax to fill out the horn section, and guitarist Duane Betts making an unannounced appearance to play the Dickey to Krasno’s Skydog for a wild ride through the Allman Brothers Band‘s “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”. Hartswick, in particular, shined in her versatile role with the talented krewe, turning in powerful vocal readings of Aretha Franklin‘s “Rock Steady” and The Isley Brothers‘ “Work To Do”.
Eric Krasno & Friends ft. Duane Betts – “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” (Allman Brothers Band) – 5/3/22
Back on the second stage, local hero Nicholas Payton led his versatile outfit through a hip-hop-inflected set of jazz-funk grooves. The five-piece seamlessly fell into place around Payton as he moved between trumpet and keys, the ever-present Nigel Hall notably flashing his multi-instrumentalist credentials as the group’s primary bassist and guiding them on keys through an instrumental reading of D’Angelo‘s Voodoo classic, “The Root”.
Ever-evolving jazz-fusion collective Snarky Puppy was up next on the main stage as the sun descended toward the horizon. Bassist/bandleader Michael League was all smiles as the ten-piece conjoined like gears in a Swiss watch, each individual part a marvel in its own right—an inspired keyboard solo here, a tease of the dungeon soundtrack from Super Mario Brothers there—yet tastefully deferential to the overall flavor of the musical gumbo. The unannounced appearance of renowned percussionist Weedie Braimah late in the set ensured that the spontaneous nature of the city and season carried over to the Snarky Puppy performance.
After local favorite Erica Falls ushered in the golden hour with an energetic showing on the second stage, headlining act The String Cheese Incident took to the main stage to close down day one with a two-set show. A “Sometimes a River” opener led the way into the first surprise of the performance, a rendition of “MLT” featuring added percussion and keys by Snarky Puppy’s Nate Werth and Shaun Martin, respectively. The String Cheese Incident eventually brought set one to a close with a wild segment that saw Weather Report classic “Birdland” weave into and out of “The Remington Ride” before flowing into a “Willin'”-infused “Jellyfish”, taking a detour through an improvised “Brewery Jam”, and landing in an emphatic “All We Got”.
The biggest surprise of the night was still in store as The String Cheese Incident stepped onstage for the day’s final set. As the band reached the breakdown in a set-opening “Close Your Eyes”, Bill Nershi ad-libbed some audience salutations (“How’s everybody feeling now?”) as an additional guitarist quietly took the stage: surprise guest and rising superstar Billy Strings.
The young bluegrass picker got straight to work reminding the New Orleans crowd why his rare appearances with an electric guitar in his hand have become a highly sought-after treat for his legion of fans, trading fiery licks with Nershi and Michael Kang. Once the jam finished and the crowd roared its appreciation, the Strings-augmented outfit dove into a rendition of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Ramblin’ Man”.
The String Cheese Incident w/ Billy Strings – “Close Your Eyes” – 5/3/22
The String Cheese Incident w/ Billy Strings – Ramblin’ Man (Allman Brothers Band, partial) – 5/3/22
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The spur-of-the-moment appearance by Billy Strings, who is in town for a headlining set at the Fair Grounds on Thursday, seemed to encapsulate the intangible magic of New Orleans during Jazz Fest season. Explains Daze Between New Orleans promoter Kunj Shah (Live For Live Music), “Billy heard that String Cheese was playing a show and came out to check out Daze Between as a patron. After enjoying the first set from GA, he went to go say hi to the band during set break and within minutes he had a guitar in his hand and was being escorted to the stage for second set.”
Adds GMP Live’s Gideon Plotnicki, “When the Jazz Fest schedule was announced, we hoped something like this might happen with Billy Strings and The String Cheese Incident at Daze Between New Orleans. We didn’t know he would be here until he was backstage with the band. We’re so happy that Billy decided to stopped by for the first day of our new event.”
Watch a video recap of the inaugural Daze Between New Orleans below, and scroll down to check out the String Cheese Incident setlists and full-day photo galleries from Tuesday’s festivities via Dylan Langille (ontheDL), Courtney Scout (Scout It Out Media), and Dave Vann.
Setlist: The String Cheese Incident | Daze Between New Orleans | Faubourg Brewery | New Orleans, LA | 5/3/22
Set One: Sometimes a River, MLT*, Rocky Road Blues, Dragonfly, Birdland (Weather Report) > The Remington Ride (Hank Penny, Herb Remington) > Birdland (Weather Report) > Jellyfish# > Brewery Jam > All We Got
Set two: Close Your Eyes^, Ramblin’ Man^, Mouna Bowa, Hotel Window > Space > Miss Brown’s Teahouse, It Is What It Is
^ w/ Billy Strings
* w/ Nate Werth (percussion) & Shaun Martin (keyboards) from Snarky Puppy
# verses of “Willin'” (Litte Feat) in a Jellyfish/Willin’ mashup
Tickets for day two of Daze Between New Orleans are available at the box office. A portion of all proceeds benefit the festival’s charitable partner, Rex Foundation, the Grateful Dead-founded organization that writes grants to small nonprofits doing great work in the arts, sciences, education, environment, indigenous culture, and social justice. In the spirit of the season, Rex Foundation will direct all charitable funds generated during the festival to New Orleans-based organizations.
Rex Foundation and Daze Between New Orleans are also hosting a virtual auction, which offers fans a chance at NOLA- and Grateful Dead-themed artwork, experiences, and memorabilia. You can also donate to this campaign directly by texting DAZE to (202) 858-1233 or heading here.