My most favorite event of the year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, has sadly come to an end but was wonderful while it lasted. Here's a recap of what went down at the New Orleans Fairgrounds for the past two weekends...
The festival is a two weekend celebration of New Orleans music and culture, a completely original and amazing experience. If you are thinking about taking a trip to New Orleans, schedule it for either the last weekend in April or the first weekend in May so that you can join in on the festivities.
There is a huge variety of live music at the festival, encompassing every style associated with the city and state: Bues, R & B, Gospel, Cajun, Swamp Pop, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, Folk, Latin, Rock, Rap, Country, Bluegrass and everything in between, and of course Jazz, both contemporary and traditional. Tons of major and local artists perform at the festival each year - each day from 11am to 7pm, a variety of artists perform on 12 different stages, each with its own unique theme. If you are interested in hearing some amazing rock music, take a walk over to the Acura stage. In the mood for some southern rap? Head on over to the Congo Square stage. Sadly, it is impossible to see every artist/band at the festival, so plan ahead and choose a day or weekend that features your favorites, but regardless of when you go to Jazz Fest, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Here are just a few of the major artists that appeared at the 2011 Jazz Fest (I saw Kid Rock and he was absolutely amazing. Had a blast!):
Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, Wyclef Jean, Irma Thomas, Bon Jovi, Jason Mraz, Partners & Crime & 5th Ward Weebie, John Legend & the Roots, Kenny G, John Mellencamp, Tom Jones, Cindi Lauper, Better than Ezra, Arcade Fire, Willie Nelson, Lupe Fiasco, Mystikal (so sad to have missed him perform), The Strokes, Lauryn Hill, Jimmy Buffet, Cowboy Mouth, Kid Rock, the Neville Brothers, Maze feat. Frankie Beveryly, and many more.
Crafts & Marketplaces (from nojazzfest.com)
Beginning in the early 1970s with a handful of artisans — from self-taught painter and street preacher Sister Gertrude Morgan, to acclaimed jewelry designer Mignon Faget to Louisiana Coushatta basket weavers — the Festival's Crafts now include the diverse works of hundreds of regionally and nationally acclaimed artists in multiple distinct event venues.
Filled with music, art, and energy, the CONGO SQUARE AFRICAN MARKETPLACE is alive with the culture and spirit which helped create the jazz and heritage for which New Orleans is known. You will find an array of local, national, and international artisans exhibiting ancient crafting techniques, as well as modern variations and adaptations of those techniques. Enjoy the exchange of wares, customs, and ideas that embodies a true marketplace experience as you encounter people and art from throughout the African Diaspora.
CONTEMPORARY CRAFTS, set among blues, jazz and gospel music tents in Heritage Square, is a nationally recognized showcase of alluring handcrafted clothing, beautiful leather goods and musical instruments, along with a brilliant array of paintings, photographs, sculptures and irresistible jewelry. Observe ongoing skilled demonstrations of metal work, painting and fiber work, as well as pottery turning – it's certain to please your creative inquiries.
In LOUISIANA MARKETPLACE, the state's finest traditional and contemporary artists display and sell hand-colored photographs, pine needle baskets, whimsical jewelry, and other creations that evoke the state's unique cultural landscape.
The Festival also features a wide variety of vendors with local foods. The official food policy of the Festival is "no carnival food." Indeed, there are more than seventy food booths, all with unique food items, including but not limited to: Mango Freeze,crawfish beignets, cochon de lait sandwiches, alligator sausage po' boy (sandwich), boiled crawfish, softshell crab po'boy, crawfish Monica and many other dishes. All food vendors go through strict screening for quality, food handling practices and capacity, all vendors are locally owned small businesses, all who set up and dish out there goodies at three distinct areas: contemporary, Congo Square and Folk.
In the Louisiana Folklife Village, master artisans and tradition-bearers create cultural treasures by using generations-old techniques. Here, Cajun musicians meticulously handcraft accordions and boat-builders transform bald cypress into the graceful pirogues and skiffs that ply our waterways. Watch as New Orleans architectural tradesmen forge decorative ironwork and fashion intricate wood trim characteristic of historic New Orleans homes. Learn the traditions of Mardi Gras Indians and Marching Clubs, and watch as float makers create carnival masterpieces from papier-mâché. Visit the Folklife Village and bear witness to our state's unique cultural history.
A component of the Folklife Village, the Native American Village celebrates the rich heritage of our state's indigenous peoples. Relax under the shade canopy of a palmetto-thatched chickee while enjoying traditional drumming and singing by Southeastern dance and pow-wow troupes.
The air-conditioned Grandstand gives Festival-goers a chance to take an intimate look at the vibrant culture, cuisine and art of Louisiana. This year's programs includes Special Exhibits spanning both weekends on the 1st Floor, West Wing, and four intriguing stages: Zatarain's Food Heritage Stage (1st Floor East), Zatarain's Cajun Cabin (on the apron outside Food Heritage), the Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage (2nd floor East), and the Lagniappe Stage (in the outdoor paddock).
Upcoming Louisiana Fun & Festivals:
Mid City Bayou Boogaloo: The 2011 festival will feature a wide variety of musical genres including New Orleans roots in Blues, Jazz , Funk, Cajun, Zydeco, Latin, Brass, Country, Alternative, Hip Hop and Rock. There will be something for everyone!
The Great Souther Rally: Motorcycle Rally on 250 Acres at Lamar-Dixon Expo Center - Camping, RV Hook Ups and the best biker party in the Great South! Swamp rides - Cajun Poker Runs - MFG Demos over scenic 10 mile River Road Run - 100's of Vendors - Music - Outdoor Activities and More. Food and Hospitality...The Southern Way!
New Orleans Oyster Festival: the New Orleans Oyster Festival will educate the country about the benefits of the Louisiana Gulf Oyster, honor and celebrate the restaurateurs and oyster farmers who have solidified the New Orleans French Quarter's position as the "Oyster Capital of America."Proceeds from the event will go to "Save Our Coast". Come out to see live local music and eat great food! Don't miss out on the Acme Oyster House World Oyster Eating Competition.
is a multi-day music and arts festival in New Orleans, Louisiana that was originally held on Halloween weekend in 1999, it has since moved between the weekend before Halloween and Halloween weekend throughout the years. The festival returned to Halloween weekend in 2009.
The Voodoo Experience is known for its blending of high profile national artists from all genres such as Eminem, 50 Cent, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kiss, The Black Keys,Duran Duran, Nine Inch Nails, R.E.M., and 311 with local Louisiana musicians including The Original Meters, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue and Dr. John.
Obviously this is not a complete list of all the fun events that Louisiana has to offer, but I chose these because they are some of my favs. I'll post a complete list of all of the events at a later date.