Widespread Panic to lure Colorado residents to New Orleans jazz fest
A lot of people I know from Colorado are excited about the upcoming Jazz Fest. The inclusion of Widespread Panic to the lineup has a lot to do with it.
Oh, you thought I was talking about the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Festival. Hardly.
No, I’m “talkin’ bout, talkin’ bout, New Orleans,” as The Meters’ song repeats. Since 1970, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has been one of the top annual attractions for music lovers worldwide.
A lot of other big names are on tap this year: Wilco, April 24; The Who, April 25; Jimmy Buffett, April 26; No Doubt (or Chicago), May 1; Elton John (or Jerry Lee Lewis), May 2; Steve Winwood (or The Meters or the O’Jays), May 3, which is closing day.
Typically at Jazz Fest, I skip the names that draw massive crowds, and I lurk around the smaller stages. (That said, I will probably check out The Who, Panic and The Meters.) I hate getting bogged down in a sea of sweat and heat and warm beer and bodies virtually lumped on top of each other.
Here’s my offer of a few best bets for the many hundreds of Colorado residents who are planning a trip to the Crescent City in less than two months for this year’s version of Jazz Fest:
• April 24: Fans of Zydeco music and Swamp-tinged blues won’t want to miss opening day. Park yourself at the Fais Do-Do Stage for many of these acts: Wayne Toups, Sunpie & the Sunspots, Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie, Lil’ Nathan and Chubby Carrier.
• April 25: Personally, I want to see if The Who has still got any of its special brand of power rock left. Otherwise, this looks like a good day for milling around, eating Crawfish Monica and checking out various artists and bands, including Robert Cray, Dumpstaphunk (with Art Neville) and Raw Oyster Cult (all-star band with John Gros and Dave Malone). The nerds will want to see John Legend.
• April 26: I’ll skip Jimmy Buffett and opt for the weirdness of Tony Bennett performing with Lady Gaga. The first Sunday also includes Irma Thomas, Beausoleil and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.
• April 30: Get there early and spread a blanket near the front of the mega-stage for Widespread. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Runner-ups: Amanda Shaw, Alison Krauss.
• May 1: Spend the day in the French Quarter or take a river cruise. Wait for the night shows in the clubs. If you absolutely must go to the Fair Grounds, head to the Gospel Tent and inject yourself with some much-needed Holy Spirit. You Colorado heathens need some religion, badly.
• May 2: “The Killer” is back — Jerry Lee Lewis is a living legend and he can still pound those keys. Otherwise, I’m pointing the way toward Kermit Ruffins, Henry Gray and Taj Mahal.
• May 3: What a huge closing day: The Meters, Lenny Kravitz, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, The Radiators, Dr. John, Tab Benoit, Anders Osborne. So many greats, so little time.
Booked your flight yet?
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