Jazzfest 2010- First Weekend

T-shirt available from The Dirty Coast

It saddens me greatly that I will not be attending Jazzfest this year. It is an absolutely killer lineup, and a great time to be in the city. But just because I won’t be in attendance doesn’t mean I can’t stare longingly at the cubes and plot an imaginary course. Here’s how I would attack weekend one at the fair grounds.

Friday, April 23rd-

Its day one, and probably a good day to take it easy. If you feel like being up early, or if you’re the type that can’t stand to miss a thing, start in the jazz tent at 11:15 for the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Ensemble. This is the graduate level jazz ensemble from Loyola University and should feature some good players.

However, a  leisurely breakfast in New Orleans can be a great thing, and Friday’s line-up offers a unique opportunity to get a good spot at one stage and spend the bulk of your day there. The line-up for the Gentilly Stage is pure New Orleans goodness, starting at 12:15 with the Joe Krown Trio, followed by Jon Cleary at 1:55 and Dr. John at 3:30. You may have enough time between Cleary and Mac to check out the Black Mohawk Mardi Gras Indians parade at 3:00, but don’t risk losing your spot. You’re better off sending one of your group on a mission for more beer and some meat pies.

After Dr. John you have a choice. Next up on the Gentilly Stage is the Black Crowes. I’ve seen the Black Crowes a few times and they put on a great show, and if you’re spot is good enough you may be tempted to stay. But this is not the New Orleans Stadium Rock n’ Roll Festival. This is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, so I would suggest you shuffle on over to the Jazz Tent for Joe Lovano Us Five. Trust me.

After leaving the fair grounds you might be a little hungry, but I’d suggest a shower and change of clothes, maybe a power nap if you have time. You are, after all, going to be out all night.

I’d start at Dos Jefe’s Uptown Cigar Bar for the Eric Traub Trio at 10:00. A good smoke, a great glass of scotch and a really great horn player. These few hours relaxing will come in handy, because you need to be at Tiptina’s around 1:00 for Galactic’s 2:00am show. In my book this is a must see, but acceptable substitutes would be Gorge Porter, Jr at Tipitina’s French Quarter or Brian Coogan at d.b.a.

Saturday, April 24th-

After about 6 hours sleep, you should be ready for round 2. Today you will definitely need to be at the ‘fest on time for Johnny Sketch and The Dirty Notes on the Gentilly Stage at 11:20. After Sketch, head over to the Economy Hall Tent for Treme Brass Band at 12:25 and tip a little out for Bunchy.

After getting your brass fix, swing by the Congo Square Stage for part of Big Sam’s spot on your way back to Gentilly for Papa Grows Funk, or if you prefer the Acura Stage for Cowboy Mouth. Either will be a great show.  Next up on Acura is the Funky Meters, a can’t miss at every festival.

When the Funky Meters are done, you’re going to want to flee the Acura Stage as quickly as possible before the tourists descend upon it for Simon & Garfunkel. If you really, Really, REALLY want to see Simon & Garfunkel, please stop reading this. You are beyond my help. However, if you would rather enjoy yourself, head back to Gentilly for My Morning Jacket. Yeah, I know, I said no rock acts, but its a weak time slot. You may be better off leaving the fair grounds and heading out for dinner.

For tonight’s shows I recommend John Ellis and Doublewide at the Rusty Nail at 10:30 followed by George Porter Jr at d.b.a at midnight.

Sunday, April 25th-

Sunday starts a little slow, but that’s alright because you have a 10am reservation for jazz brunch at Commander’s, right? You definitely want to be at the fairgrounds for Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s set on the Gentilly Stage at 12:15. Next up check out Jeremy Davenport in the Jazz Tent at 12:55.

After Davenport, you can go try and fight your way through the crowd for a decent spot at the Acura Stage for Levon Helm at 3:10 and the remnants of the Allman Brothers Band at 5:00, but I would set up camp at the Jazz & Heritage Stage for the Free Agents Brass Band at 3:10, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux at 4:35 and Hot 8 Brass Band at 6:00.

For your evening entertainment, you can’t go wrong with Terrance Blanchard at Snug Harbor at 8 or 10, but I’d much rather be at Tipitina’s for The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Jon Cleary. A rather perfect end to a pretty great first weekend.

That does it or Jazzfest 2010 weekend one. I found all my selections for evening shows from Gambit, New Orleans’ weekly alternative newspaper. You should probably have one of these in your back pocket the entire time you’re in town. Check back here next week for my second weekend suggestions.

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