Every Jazz Fest veteran knows that some of the best performances of the week don’t happen at the Fair Grounds. And while the actual festival still offers the best bang for your buck, the dozens of shows happening across town afterward offer the chance to see some big names and all-star jam sessions in more intimate settings.
For a comprehensive list of the seemingly endless number of shows happening next week, let the “Nearly World Famous” Jazz Fest Grids guide you to musical nirvana. But, if, like us, you’re feeling overwhelmed by all these choices, we’ve compiled a handy guide featuring our top picks for each night.
Thursday April 24
Stanton Moore Organ Trio feat. Robert Walter and Will Bernard @ Blue Nile: One of the busiest players throughout Jazz Fest, Stanton Moore kicks things off with a funky trio at Blue Nile featuring guitarist Will Bernard and organist Robert Walter. Stanton is playing 25+ shows over the course of 11 days, proving that great things are guaranteed to happen when you choose music over sleep. Check out the rest of Blue Nile’s post-Fest offerings here.
Johnny Vidacovich, Erick “Jesus” Coomes, Nicholas Payton @ The Maple Leaf: Johnny V’s weekly jam at The Maple Leaf kicks off an impressive run of shows at the fabled venue, including music til sunrise on most nights. This trio features Erick Coomes, bassist for Boston-based funk band Lettuce, and Nicholas Payton, local trumpeter who has played with the likes of Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. Leave it to the Maple Leaf to get these three guys together for an unexpected collaboration. Check out the Maple Leaf’s entire Jazz Fest lineup and buy tickets here.
New Orleans Suspects w/ Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett @ Howlin Wolf: One of the best bands in town plays a special show featuring the formidable guitar duo of Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat fame. Over the course of three sets, the band will play a tribute to Little Feat that should fit perfectly alongside the Suspects’ own brand of good time funk and roll. Click here for the Howlin Wolf calendar and tickets.
Friday April 25
Dumpstaphunk performs Led Zeppelin plus Easy Star All-Stars perform Dub Side of the Moon (late set) plus The Roosevelt Collier Band feat. Nick Daniels and Nikki Glaspie perform Band of Gypsies, Cas Haley performs The Police, and Gravity A perform Talking Heads (in The Den) @ The Howlin’ Wolf: Unfortunately, tickets for this stretched-out covers Fest are already sold out but those interested in attending can always track the secondary market for last-minute miracles. If Dumpsta’s recent Zepp set, at the Wanee festival in Florida is any indication, this one is a can’t miss for Dumpsta/Zepp fans.
Bootsy Collins @ The Joy Theatre: The intergalactic funkateer himself touches down for a night of classic funk at the beautiful Joy Theatre. Bootsy has played with everyone from James Brown to Snoop Dogg, and this show will feature songs from across his 45 year career. Bootsy usually plays Tip’s or the House of Blues when he comes to town, so it’s good to see the legendary bassist mixing up his venue selection.
Headhunters River Jam @ Creole Queen Riverboat: Fiyawerx Productions puts on some of the best after-Fest shows in the city every year, and this year is no exception. One of the coolest experiences you can have during Jazz Fest is setting sail on the Creole Queen Riverboat with some of the best players in town for a dance party on the river. Fiyawerx is hosting four river jams this year, with each trip having a distinct identity — from hip hop to NOLA funk. The first voyage is my top choice, featuring three members of Herbie Hancock’s legendary Headhunters band alongside three of NOLA’s finest adopted sons: Nigel Hall, Eddie Roberts, and June Yamigishi.
Saturday April 26
Pretty Lights feat. Preservation Hall Jazz Band Horns, Talib Kweli, Eric Krasno, Hot 8 Brass Band @ Champions Square: Derek Vincent Smith, aka Pretty Lights, is one of the pre-eminent DJs in the world right now, thanks to his irresistible songs that avoid the infamous “drops” of the modern EDM scene in favor of more melodic soundscapes. His most recent album, the Grammy-nominated A Color Map of the Sun, featured a slew of local musicians and made a strong case for the “DJs are musicians too” argument. Smith usually fills arenas on his own, but this show will feature his full band, including the musically adventurous Pres Hall Horns and the incomparable Talib Kweli, for a giant party outside the Superdome.
The M&Ms (Papa Mali, Stanton Moore, Robert Mercurio, John Medeski) @ Tipitina’s: This all star band doesn’t get together much, but when they do you know sparks will fly. Moore and Mercurio make up Galactic’s rhythm section, Papa Mali is one of the best guitarists in town, and John Medeski plays keyboard with the jazz-fusion group Medeski Martin & Wood. Four musicians at the top of their game getting together for a funky jam. Sounds like Jazz Fest heaven.
moe. and Moon Taxi @ The Civic Theatre: The timing for this twin bill is as ideal as it gets for intrepid jamband fans given the fact that this show will get cracking shortly after Phish and Anders Osborne’s daytime sets at Jazz Fest wrap. Jam veterans moe. have over a quarter-century of heavy touring under their belt and this two-night run marks the band’s first show in New Orleans in nearly a decade. Nashville’s Moon Taxi return after an impressive set last fall at the Voodoo Experience, fresh off a big year in support of their latest LP Mountains Beaches Cities.
Funk N’ Stay Up Y’all: Marco Benevento, Johnny Vidacovich, Mike Dillon & more @ Maple Leaf: With Oak Street’s house drummer and two vital members of experimental jazz-rock supergroup Garage A Trois joining forces for a 3 am show, expect this to be a full-bore circuit-and-time-bending odyssey that should push on ’til the sun peeks in. Plus, with the “Leafopotamus” show (New Orleans Suspects: CR Gruver , “Mean” Willie Green (Neville Brothers), Reggie Scanlan (The Radiators), Jake Eckert (Dirty Dozen Brass Band), Jeff Watkins (James Brown) + Marco Benevento, Fred Tackett (Little Feat), Eric McFadden (PFunk/George Clinton), Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band), Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys)) going on just before, you can bank on a few other heavy hitters sticking around for the late late show.
Sunday April 27
Black Joe Lewis @ Tipitina’s: Austin-based Black Joe Lewis leads his swaggering band of garage-funk brothers in songs that mix humor and heartbreak in equal measure. Equally comfortable playing alongside indie rock bands like Spoon and The New York Dolls as they are funking with the best of ‘em, Black Joe Lewis and his band are guaranteed to get you moving.
The Word @ Joy Theatre: Of all the night shows going on over this two week period, the rare chance to see The Word has perhaps got me most excited. This brand of sacred steel gospel should re-rouse the spirits after weekend one at the Fairgrounds reaches its end. Led by Robert Randolph’s pedal steel at the forefront, The Word also features John Medeski (Medeski, Martin and Wood) as well as Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, and Chris Chew from North Mississippi All-Stars.
Worship My Organ (Marco Benevento/Skerik/Robert Walter/Adam Deitch/DJ Logic) @ Blue Nile: Expect to hear some of the best, freakiest and purest improvisation you could hope to witness throughout the whole Jazz Fest run at this one. With two keys virtuosos (Benevento and Walter), a jazz-punk sax wizard (Skerik), and a couple of beatsmiths (live drummer Adam Deitch and DJ Logic), you’ve got yourself quite a cross-section of abundantly imaginative talents. Worship My Organ truly never disappoints and since this one is slated for two sets on Frenchmen Street, this is a sure bet to go deep into the Monday AM.
For a chance to win FREE tickets to a few of these shows, check out our giveaway contest.