Thursday April 1, 2010
Begun in 1970 to commemorate the great heritage of jazz in New Orleans, JazzFest has expanded into nearly all genres of popular music. Besides traditional (Dixieland) styles, JazzFest now features blues, gospel, soul/R&B, international music (especially African and Caribbean), funk, country/western, hip hop, Cajun/zydeco, folk and just plain good ol’ rock and roll. In short, there is something for everyone with any sort of musical taste and preference. A great mix of local performers and internationally renowned “big names.”
And, in addition to the music, there is also an abundance of culture and food scattered widely around the festival site. Artwork, works of craftsmanship, collectable posters, books, CDs, DVDs and much more are offered for sale, along with some of the most fabulous food you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Here are just a few of the major acts appearing at this year’s JazzFest:
Simon & Garfunkel
The Allman Brothers
The Levon Helm Band
George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic
The Gipsy Kings
Jual Luis Guerra
The Black Crowes
Gerald Albright, Kirk Whalum and Jeff Lorber
Frankie Beverly and Maze
Plus a special tribute to New Orleans-born jazz singer/trumpeter Louis Prima. Celebrating what would have been Prima’s 100th birthday will be his former wife and singing partner Keely Smith and two of the Prima children, Lena and Louis, Jr.
Here are some other choice offerings at this year’s JazzFest besides the music:
Crafts & Marketplaces
Beginning in the early ‘70s with a handful of artisans—from self-taught painter and street preacher Sister Gertrude Morgan, to acclaimed jewelry designer Mignon Faget, and Louisiana Coushatta basket weavers—the festival’s crafts now include the diverse works of more than 300 regionally and nationally acclaimed artists in four distinct event venues.
At Congo Square you can experience music and art from Africa and the African Diaspora. The Congo Square stage features performances by African, African-American, African-Caribbean and Latino musicians. Shop at Congo Square African Marketplace for original paintings, sculpture, clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, and an array of handcrafted artworks.
Contemporary Crafts is a nationally recognized showcase of alluring handcrafted clothing, beautiful leather goods and hand-blown glass, along with a brilliant array of paintings, photographs, sculptures and irresistible jewelry.
In the 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 history.
Nowhere else will you find such matchless cuisine as is found at JazzFest. The Food Fair offers classic New Orleans staples and over time has expanded to include Creole and Cajun offerings as well as international cuisine
The dizzying array of choices extends beyond pot-cooked favorites such as:
shrimp and okra gumbo
meaty white beans
oysters Rockefeller bisque
sausage macque choux
Plus such New Orleans favorites as po-boy sandwiches stuffed with anything from fried local crawfish with jalapenos to luscious cochon de lait.
Still not enough choices for you? Here’s more...
fried green tomatoes
Creole hot tamales
fried oyster spinach salad
fried chicken livers with pepper jelly
Creole stuffed crab
cracklin and hot sausage po-boy
And, if you still have room and want to indulge your sweet tooth, you can try sweet potato cookies, banana bread pudding, pecan pie, couscous with yogurt sauce, spumoni, and lemon pound cake. For the young ‘uns, the child-friendly menu in the kid’s area includes cupcakes and corn on the cob.
In addition to the many fine foods offered, there are two cooking stages at the Fair Grounds Grandstand demonstrating our rich culinary history, and offering samples of signature dishes featuring local ingredients from celebrated chefs, farmers, fishermen, and home cooks.
How to Get There
The Fair Grounds Race Course is located at 1731 Gentilly Boulevard, just minutes from downtown and the French Quarter. However, the immediate area around the site will be off-limits to most vehicular traffic. Convenient bus service on the Esplanade route will take festival-goers to within walking distance of the festival gates, as will shuttle bus service from various park-and-ride lots and other convenient pick-up points around the city.
For a scenic route to the festival you can take the Canal Street Streetcar line, transfer to the North Carrollton Avenue branch and take it to the end at City Park. From there the festival is about a half-mile walk down Esplanade Avenue. Follow the crowd and you can’t miss it.
For more information on JazzFest 2010 visit www.nojazzfest.com.