The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival attracts big-name entertainers every year. // © 2011 Nelson: Douglas Mason; Hill: Zack Smith
New Orleans is a world-famous city for many reasons, and its diversity of music as well as its distinctive Creole and Cajun cuisines top the list. Now in its 43rd year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will celebrate this and more from April 27 to May 6.
“I’m looking forward to this year’s Jazz Fest for the great music, food and people from the city of New Orleans. It isn’t only the festival itself that is great, it is also the after hours in the city’s restaurants, bars and clubs. The music keeps playing until 4 a.m.,” said Carl Rhodes, who attended last year’s festival.
On opening weekend, the founding members of The Beach Boys will reunite for a global 50th Anniversary celebration. Beach Boys members, Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks, will perform their new studio album as well as some of their biggest hits.
“This anniversary is special to me because I miss the boys, and it will be a thrill for me to make a new record and be on stage with them again,” said Brian Wilson in a statement.
The festival also shines the spotlight on home-grown acts — including the Neville Brothers, Preservation Hall Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Irma Thomas, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Better Than Ezra — who will perform among internationally renowned acts in jazz, folk, rock, gospel, funk and other genres.
This year’s lineup includes performances by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Eagles, Al Green, Herbie Hancock, My Morning Jacket, Bon Iver, Florence + the Machine, Feist, Bunny Wailer, Bonnie Raitt, Janelle Monae, Iron & Wine, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Ani diFranco and Givers, among hundreds of other artists.
Indeed, a major attraction of Jazz Fest is the cuisine. On-site food tents offer the best of the Crescent City, from Cafe du Monde’s famous beignets to pies stuffed with alligator meat. It’s not hard to find vegetarian options (fried green tomatoes, veggie muffulettas, spinach artichoke casserole), but meat-lovers just might find themselves in an epicurean heaven with spicy boudin, boiled crawfish, andouille sausage gumbo, cracklins, jambalaya and soft-shell crab poboys.
“A highlight for me was eating boiled crawfish and getting several lessons from locals about how to eat them properly,” recalled Rhodes. “One of them even ended up giving me a free beer.”
Single-day tickets to enter the festival are available for $45, and multi-day passes are available at various costs.