Fest Quest – A guide to the First Weekend – 2017
New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival
By Rhonda K. Findley, co-owner of Pop City & Funrock’n stores, New Orleans
Quite frankly, I’ve never planned my own personal Jazzfest experience. But, I was inspired. Normally, I just get there, park the bike and let the track and the crowds take me where they may. This year is different. I decided that I would make a plan. A plan that would allow me to go from A to B or should I say from Congo to Gentilly and back without missing anything. My business is to plan and plan around a theme. And, I must say, Jazzfest seems to have a few themes going on. Music. Food. Shopping. Socializing. The four things that make Jazzfest really special. A theme it is then. And, please, feel free to make it your own and don’t forget to “Wave Your Fest Flag” . . . Hopefully, I’ll see ya at the Fairgrounds and remember . . . “Point me in the direction of New Orleans” or better yet, “Point me in the direction of Jazzfest.”
Friday, April 28, 2017- Festin’ with the Ladies
2017’s First Fest Friday is all out the ladies. It seems that woven in and out of an incredible first day, the ladies are taking over as individual “Ruler(s) of the Universe.” Of course, my shout out to Ms. Irma Thomas, Soul Queen of New Orleans, is not so thinly veiled. But as our leading lady of the music scene, she sets the bar high.
So here’s how you can show the Fest ladies and yourself some real love on Friday.
Food First . . . Love me some Ms. Linda
Ms. Linda Green, The Ya-ka-Mein Lady Food Area 1 Near the Jazz & Heritage Stage
Right out the gate, I’m heading over to see Ms. Linda Green at her world famous Ya-Ka-Mein booth. You see Ms. Linda is known the world over for her secret family recipe for the ubiquitous noodle soup that wraps you in warm goodness and will bring you back to life during the Fest. She also cooks up pork chop sandwiches and bread pudding. Ms. Linda is my first stop and it won’t be my only visit to her.
Tip: If it drizzles or the temperature drops, the Ya-Ka-Mein is a must. I’ve noticed around 3-4pm her lines thin out a bit. But all in all, always worth the wait.
Moyuba Lagnaippe Stage 11:30AM
Its Moyuba’s backup vocalists – always female that are a stellar attraction with Michael Skinkus’ authentic Cuban rythmn exploring the traditional drumming of Santeria melded with jazz compositions. Being a personal fan of Margie Perez of the Honeypots this set should be a real treat if Margie is part of the ensemble and from all accounts I hear she is there.
Kristin Diable & The City Gentilly Stage 12:30-1:20pm
Right now, Kristin is THE female singer/songwriter of the moment. She lives in New Orleans– I mean really lives here. Every once in a while, she does these open house parties which are sure legendary teaming up with other musicians. No regular rhyme or reason just old fashioned music loving. You may have not personally seen her perform or realized that her tunes have passed your ears. By that I mean, since 2015, her catalogue has garnered spots on locally and nationally produced television shows. NPR cited her 2015 release as one of the best albums of the year. So, you might have heard her but not know it’s her. With that said, head over and meet Kristin. You’ll be a fan, if not already one.
Betty Winn & the A-Chord Gospel Tent 1:55pm
Winn founded her gospel group in 1955 with her husband and has traveled the world delivering the unique sounds of New Orleans gospel. Winn melds incredible 3-part harmonies into a stunning delivery. If presenting any of Mahalia Jackson’s repertoire let’s just say musical salvation will happen.
Helen Gillet Lagnaippe Stage 1:50pm
I’ve been at a Gillet show, closed my eyes and could feel myself transported back 100 years to an old café on a Parisian street. Helen, a Belgium native, lives in the Musician’s Village and has embraced her craft while living and becoming a true New Orleanian. With that being said, Gillet isn’t one to stay in her lane. Her weapon is the cello along with her vocals and she can be classical, electric and pop, it’s hard to know. This is as much a part of her charm as her massive talent.
Mishchya Lake & the Little Big Horns Acura Stage 2:10pm
I first saw Lake perform as a duo in the driveway of an art house years ago in the Marigny and then later at an underground speakeasy in the same neighborhood where she killed it delivering her rendition of Jolene. She is a powerhouse and a stunning vocalist. Many locals consider her a hometown lady now and it will be exciting to watch her and her formidable band members command the massive main stage.
Stephanie Jordan and Big Band Jazz Tent 3pm-4pm
Another native son, Stephanie Jordan is known for her real deal Jazz vocals. She is going to deliver an authentic Jazz experience. If she delves into the Lena Horn songbook, watch out my friends! Right now, she is our legacy in the making. I would say if you are coming to Jazz Fest then she is going to deliver what everyone says there needs to be more of – real jazz. So I suggest festers, pack her tent and get what you came for.
Kathy Taylor and Favor Gospel Tent 3:55-4:55p
Another Gospel diva with chart topping records. Her vocals are driving and refreshing. And, an experience I’d say worth grabbing a chair and let her lift ya up.
Kim Carson & the Real Deal Lagnaippe Stage 4:20-5:20p
Could this be Kim’s 18th appearance at Jazzfest? I’d say that pretty much sums up this Honky Tonk darling who was voted best country artist by Offbeat Magazine eight times. Should be a fun moment where you can boot scoot around.
Blue Lu Baker Remembered Featuring
Meschiya Lake & Quiana Lynell People’s Heath Economy Hall 5:30pm-6:45p
Lake & Lynell . . . These two ladies are simply going to tear it up. Lake is a mainstay in the New Orleans scene while Lynell, an LSU grad transplanted from Texas and a classically trained vocalist may be one of the most interesting pairings of all of the 2017 Fest line up.
Whomever was the brainchild behind this “tribute” deserves a pat on the back.
You may not know Ms. Barker was born in New Orleans and was married to the illustrious Danny Barker. Barker was best known for her 1938 recording, “Don’t Ya Feel My Leg.” But it was 10 years later she charted on Billboard reaching #4 with “A Little Bird Told Me.” Fun. Fabulous. I’m going to make a prediction if the Jazzfest gods smile this will be a pivotal moment in Fest history.
Big Shot Pick of the Day – See you there Girls . . .
It’s a draw between Harry Connick, Jr. at Acura or NAS featuring Soul Rebels. Two big names from New Orleans. Of late, Harry has been making love letters to NOLA as he makes his mark on the talk-show world . . . as for the Soul Rebels with their grinding tour schedule led by local talent manager Adam Shipley this could be a huge moment for them as they combine forces for NAS – Congo Square will be a rocking dance party for sure.
Saturday,April 29, 2017 –Brass or Bayou and Shopping Local
Saturday out the gate and I’m heading over for some ice tea and over to the craft market to do a bit of shopping. Who am I excited to see?
Niki Fisk Jewelry – Her three dimensional jewelry creations tell stories.
Kate Beck’s hand painted shibori textiles
Molly McGuire’s circus style banners
Karen Ocker’s NOLA culture paintings (she is the bomb!!!)
Tracy Thompson’s Kabuki Hat creations the ultimate wearable art.
All local New Orleanians – shop local my friends.
I really feel like today is either Brass or Bayou, literally.
New Birth at 12:25pm (Gentilly) and hopping over to The Dirty Dozen at 1:55pm (Acura) and then on to Rebirth Brass Band at 3:25pm (Congo Square).
Lost Bayou Ramblers 11:15am-12:05pm (Gentilly) then Marc Broussard 12:30pm-1:30pm (Acura) and Sunpie Barnes and the Louisiana Sunspots 3:05p-4:05pm (Fais Do-Do)
Big Shot Pick of the Day
Tribute to Pete Fountain Economy Hall 4:15pm-5:30pm
featuring Tim Laughlin, Evan Christopher, Wendell Brunious, Banu Gibson & Izzy Harrell
Sunday, April 30, 2017- Let’s Hear it for the Boys
If Friday was Ladies day then Sunday is all about the Boys . . Get up and get in the gate for opening and hustle on over to catch the Tin Men at 11:10am at the Blues Tent. Coffee with Alex, Matt and Washboard Chaz at the Fairgrounds – just might be the best part of wakin’ up!
And, if that’s the case and you setting down in the blues tent keep your seat my friend and send your compadres to bring back lunch and enjoy Little Freddie King at 12:10pm at The Blues Tent. Without moving a muscle, you will be the hippest thing around.
After parking it for the morning, venture out for a real out of the box experience at the Gentilly Stage for Boyfriend at 12:45pm. Sex-positive rap from a former conservative Christian that has yet to reveal her name. If not for anything else, go so you can say you were there. You won’t be sorry.
Post Boyfriend you might need to head over to the Gospel Tent for some Sunday PTL (Praise the Lord) and I highly recommend checking out Glen David Andrews and the Treme Choir at 1:55pm. The Andrews family is deeply embedded in the Treme culture and history and you might say they are in many ways the first family of music in the Treme. I think this is going to be high energy and simply just a fun way to get your Church on.
Shop Local at The Louisiana Marketplace
I’m going to carve out some time to check out The Louisiana Marketplace. This collection of Lousiana artist is so carefully curated that none disappoints. If there is a standout to me, I’d suggest definitely meeting Nurhan Gokturk. 2017 marks his first year as a Jazzfest artist and he is already a star around the City as his unique style captures its spirit. Meet this guy. His star is on the rise.
Dr. John Acura Stage 3:15pm
Right now is the best time to grab some food as I suspect people are heading over to claim a spot for Dr. John at 3:15pm where he commands. If you have never seen him live, I’d say this is a must this year.
While were talking classic New Orleans, John Boutte is our real deal. He starts at 4PM on the Zatarain’s WWOZ stage. Cool. Classic. John is always mind blowing and fun.
Big Shot Pick of the Day – Tom Petty Acura Stage
I would have to say that by this time and with the above schedule picks bounded by the fantastic overall lineup Waiting Is The Hardest Part? I’d say at this point. Nah. It’s jus that now its time for Tom Petty and he rocks, without a doubt. But then the whole weekend did truly.
Now go to bed because next weekend is four days of Festing and you are going to need to rest up.
— Rhonda Findley can be reached at email@example.com
Rhonda Findley is a national best-selling author and New Orleans entrepreneur, designer and retail expert. Ms. Findley was named by Gambit New Orleans as a top New Orleans Stylemaker in 2016 for her iconic stores Pop City and Funrock’n (French Quarter, Magazine Street). And her Nola Arrow design is paced to become one of the top iconic symbols of modern NOLA culture. Her national release as co-author with local PBS rising star Chef Kevin Belton, Kevin Belton’s Big Flavors of New Orleans, reached number one in 2016 and 2017 Amazon’s best sellers list for Cajun & Creole Cooking and Food & Wine. This national publication is in its 5th printing. She is also the author of the perennial 100 Top New Orleans Recipes and is often referred to as the “cookbook whisper” as she often works with chefs behind the scenes to bring their culinary visions to print. Ms. Findley resides in the historic Bywater neighborhood with her partner, Carlos Leon and rescue dogs Reni and Luna.