New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival resumed on Thursday, kicking off the 2022 event’s second and final weekend with performances by Billy Strings, Luke Combs, Ziggy Marley, Bettye LaVette, Ranky Tanky, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Leo Nocentelli, Kermit Ruffins, Nigel Hall, and scores of others. Once again serving as the customary “Locals Thursday,” when New Orleans residents can get into the Fest for a discounted rate, the Fair Grounds Race Course buzzed with an air of familiarity and appreciation as the long-awaited 2022 event paraded past its midway point.
Any Jazz Fest vet will tell you that one day at the Fair Grounds is not enough to take in everything the event has to offer. If you only have a few hours one afternoon before the daily 7 p.m. closing time? Forget about it. With more stages than most festivals have artists, Jazz Fest is a po’ boy that can’t be consumed in a single sitting—but that didn’t stop us from trying as we sped to the Fest on Thursday afternoon to squeeze in as much of the obligatory checklist as possible in three short hours.
Stop by the Gospel Tent to cleanse your soul before letting the good times roll? Check, thanks to spiritual powerhouses like Le’Andria Johnson and the Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries Mass Choir.
Post up in Congo Square and listen as Afro-Caribbean culture communes with Big Easy sensibilities in the form of a thoroughly unique “Iko Iko” by Playing For Change Band (featuring Donald Harrison Jr., Bill Summers, and more)? Check.
Get sucked into the Blues Tent by Mr. Sipp just in time to watch him saunter through the middle of the crowd and back to the stage all while ripping a hair-raising guitar solo (and never missing a note)? Check, indeed.
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Pass by the Fais Do-Do to see Charleston’s Ranky Tanky perform their Grammy-winning, jazz-influenced arrangements of traditional Gullah music? Check. Hear from our Mexican neighbors by way of the impeccably dressed, New Orleans-based Mariachi Jalisco? Claro que sí.
Hit the Jazz Tent with drummer/singer/bandleader Herlin Riley for some free-form exploration, tail feather-shaking numbers, and appreciation of the legacy of late NOLA musician and music educator Danny Barker? Check. Plan to go hear Ziggy Marley playing Bob Marley but get sucked in by that rad brass band you hear playing on the Jazz & Heritage Stage across the way and become acquainted with the big, beautiful, all-ages Da Truth Brass Band? Check.
Swing by the food stands to inhale a Crawfish Monica (and maybe even some Cochon de Lait to wash it down)? Check and check. Get a lesson in Motown history and queen-diva gravitas with legendary Detroit rhythm and blues singer Bettye LaVette back in the Blues Tent? Big old check.
Sprint over to the Gentilly Stage as the sun dips below the tree line in time to take in the breathtaking sea of flags, fans, and smiling faces as Billy Strings closes out his headlining set with a resonant cover of Bob Dylan‘s “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” and a shred-rock “Meet Me At The Creek”? You see where we’re going with this.
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Three hours is not enough to truly enjoy Jazz Fest, but it’s enough to take a nice, big bite. Thankfully, we all get another chance today. See you out there…
See below for a full list of Live For Live Music’s upcoming Fest by Nite New Orleans concerts and events this weekend. For more information and ticketing details, head here.