This weekend, The Big Easy will once again open its heart and soul for the two-weekend, seven-day 42nd annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. Internationally known as simply "Jazz Fest," this august musical institution brings together artists of every genre known in popular music; not just jazz, but country, gospel, blues, zydeco, R&B, and rock, for over 400,000 anticipated festival-goers.
- Joe Frisbie
- Dr. John at last year's Jazz Fest
Headlining on the 12 stages this year are Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Jimmy Buffet, The Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Little Anthony & The Imperials, the Foo Fighters, the Zac Brown Band, My Morning Jacket, Al Green, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Earle, Ani Di Franco, Bunny Wailer, The Beach Boys, and Galactic. Both contemporary and old-style jazz legends like Herbie Hancock, Bruce Hornsby, David Sandborn, Kermit Ruffin and Trombone Shorty are included, as well as many of the iconic brass bands for which Bourbon Street is most famous, among them, Rebirth, Dirty Dozen, Hot 8, Original Liberty Street, and the Storyville Jazz Band with George French. Perennial favorites like The Neville Brothers, Dr. John & The Lower Nine, and the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band are again making their traditional appearances.
The Jazz Fest experience goes beyond just the sounds, however; it encompasses the sights, smells, and tastes that have made New Orleans so beloved to the folks who love it. Every year, Jazz Fest focuses on one aspect of New Orleans culture and history — this year, it's the Mardi Gras Indians, famous around the world for their music and the beautiful, intricate artisanship of their colorful headdresses and suits, typically smothered in neon-bright colors, feathers, and sequins, and painstakingly created. [More after the jump.]