How to navigate the best Jazz Fest night show line-up ever

Holy shit! I guess it’s appropriate considering how awesome the Jazz Fest 50th Anniversary line-up is, but this Jazz Fest night show roster is Off. The. Hook. Here’s a quick way-too-early guide to navigate possibly the greatest 10 days of live music in New Orleans ever. Ever.

The Rolling Stones.

Our methodology for these recommendations was somewhat democratic: the powers that be here at September 16th compiled a list of every show that’s been announced so far, made notes, and sat down together recently at Luvi restaurant and duked it out. We aimed for one early-ish show, one late show, and one alternative per night. This year has a very deep line-up of night shows overall so we know we missed some really great options.

You can only do so much though. With this guide in hand, we expect to wake up on May 7th infinitely happy, enlightened, hung over, exhausted, and completely broke. Call your wife, husband, boss, or whoever you need to now, and let them know you will not be home, at work, sober, or lame from April 26 through May 7.

Phil, The Hangover.

So let’s get started. What do you actually do with so many options? Here is our early guide to the Fest nights. Hopefully, you can use this to book ahead where necessary and insure that you have the ultimate 10-day live music experience. Remember this is only the night shows, apparently there’s a pretty bad-ass festival going on during the day. We do recommend that you buy your tickets now, as many of these shows are likely to sell out.

If you are only able to go to 3 night shows, here are our top picks. Seriously, do NOT miss these shows.

  1. Foundation of Funk with Oteil Burbridge (Wednesday May 1 at Fillmore New Orleans, 8pm) – If you’re not familiar, Foundation of Funk is a combination of the Meters, the Nevilles, and dumpstaphunk. They get down. George Porter is a bonafide rock star now and maybe NOLA’s best active musician today. Add Oteil from The Allman Brothers, and more recently Dead & Company, and this concoction will blow your mind. Expect serious rock stars to join this show as well.
  2. Colonel Bruce Hampton Tribute feat. Marcus King, Terrence Higgins, Jake Eckert, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Roosevelt Collier, Jenn Hartswick at Maple Leaf (Thursday May 2 LATE at Maple Leaf, 1am) – It’s late, you’ve been going all day at Jazz Fest with the Rolling Stones and caught the awesome Foundation of Funk show the night before. You. Are. Exhausted. Well, get your shit together however you know how and find a way to Maple Leaf for the real late set. Marcus King is an amazing young blues guitarist that you need to see, and Taz is the best axe man under 20 on the planet (not a typo). Throw in some Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Roosevelt Collier, and vocalist Jenn Hartwick. Light fuse, step away.
  3. VooDoo Dead feat. Steve Kimock, George Porter Jr, Jeff Chimenti, Al Schnier, JM Kimock, Oteil, and Jaimoe at Republic New Orleans (Sunday May 5 at Republic New Orleans, 10pm) – Man, you’ve rocked your ass off for 10 days straight. You’ve seen the Stones, Dave, Little Feat, John Fogerty. You haven’t slept since last Tuesday. One more show, fellas. Voodoo Dead has a combo of Dead & Company, The Meters, the Kimock bros, and moe. Recently, this show announced the added horsepower of Oteil (see above) and Jaimoe (Allman Brothers drummer). Stay strong. Push through. Sleep when you’re dead.


Thursday April 25, 2019

  • Early recommendation: Shovels & Rope at Civic Theatre (doors 8pm, show 9pm) – Shovels and Rope is a husband/wife folk duo from Charleston who I’ve been privileged to see on 2 occasions previously: once with John Prine at the Saenger in 2016 and then again at 2017 Hogs for the Cause. Cary Ann Hearst was even impressive in the Iris Dement role with Prine on “In Spite of Ourselves”, a part that is difficult to pull off, especially without blushing. The duo is soft and under-spoken with good harmony using the acoustic guitar as the third voice of a virtual folksy trio.
  • Late recommendation: Eric Krasno, George Porter Jr, & Johnny Vidacovich at Maple Leaf (show 10pm) – This show will be funky, funky with NOLA’s raining bass monster George Porter Jr, Krasno’s guitar chops, and Johnny Vidacovich banging the drums. Think of this as New Orleans musical gumbo.
  • One alternative: Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band at The Joy Theater (doors 7pm, show 8pm) – Founding member of the Dead and legendary bassist Phil Lesh in New Orleans’ best concert venue.

Friday April 26, 2019

  • Early recommendation: JJ Grey & Mofro with North Mississippi Allstars and Samantha Fish at Orpheum Theatre (doors 8pm, show 9pm) – JJ Grey, a soulful Floridian with a solid catalog of southern rock hits, joins up with rising star Samantha Fish and North Mississippi Allstars. Samantha Fish’s bluesy singing should be a nice complement with JJ Grey vocally, and NMA should open up the ensemble’s range.
  • Late recommendation: JRAD at Mardi Gras World (doors 8pm, show 9pm) – The hottest jam band around returns to NOLA for what has become a regular multi-night run. Mardi Gras World is not our favorite venue, but that should not be a deterrent for this show. We call it a “late” show because the band will likely go deep into the night despite the early start time. Marco Benevento is worth the price of admission alone.
  • One alternative: The Allman Betts Band plus JD Simo at House of Blues
    • (doors 8pm, show 9pm)
JJ Grey & Mofro.

Saturday April 27, 2019

Warren Haynes, Gov’t Mule.

Sunday April 28, 2019

Sonny Landreth.

Tuesday April 30, 2019

Wednesday May 1, 2019

Zigaboo Modeliste and George Porter Jr.

Thursday May 2, 2019

Friday May 3, 2019

Marcus King.

Saturday May 4, 2019

Sunday May 5, 2019

Oteil, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Marc Quinones.

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