New Orleans Jazz Festival | 4/28/24 | Recap

Article Contributed by L. Paul Mann | Published on Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The first week of the New Orleans Jazz Festival wrapped up on Sunday, and it was a spectacular day! Initially, there were concerns about rain, but the weather turned out perfect with clear skies and a refreshing breeze. The crowds were smaller than Saturday's, making it easier to navigate the festival grounds and access food quickly.

Welcome to 2024 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Marc Stone | NOLA 2024

The day's musical journey began in the Blues Tent with the Marc Stone Band taking the stage. Marc Stone is a force to be reckoned with in the music scene. With over 15 years of professional experience, he's not just a guitarist and singer but also a radio DJ, music journalist, and a seasoned performer who has graced stages around the world. His musical versatility ranges from scorching Delta Blues on his steel guitar to electrifying electric and lap steel guitar performances with his four-piece band. Stone's commitment to his craft has garnered him a loyal following, glowing reviews in multiple languages, and a nomination for Best Emerging Blues Artist at the prestigious 2005 Best of The Beat Awards in New Orleans.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Keiko Komaki, Michael "Fou" Fouqier, Marc Stone, and Garland Paul | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Typically, an opening set at a music festival is a challenging slot as most concertgoers are still dealing with parking, entry, and finding their way around. However, Stone managed to draw a nearly full house right from the start. He and his veteran band, featuring Keiko Komaki on keyboards and vocals, Michael “Fou” Fouquier on drums and vocals, and Garland Paul on percussion and vocals, delivered a fiery set that included tracks from Stone’s new album, “Shining Like A Diamond," reminiscent of Dr. John’s early recordings.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2024

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The album "Shining Like A Diamond" features a roster of New Orleans music royalty. Guitarist Leo Nocentelli appears on “Digitize,” choosing a bluesy electric slide over his typical Meters funk—a first in a song addressing internet disinformation. Jazz vocalist Meschiya Lake joins Stone on a Stax-style R&B duet, “When We Were Cheating,” which playfully reminisces about their infidelity with a longing to relive those moments. George Porter Jr. and his trio add to “Love is Everything,” echoing a classic Allman Brothers ballad, while “The Truth” sees contributions from the New Soul Finders, including legendary singer Marilyn Barbarin, bringing a contemporary twist to a funky gospel track.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Jontavious Willis | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Following Stone, Jontavious Willis, a young bluesman who consistently exceeds expectations, took the stage. He showcased his mastery of traditional Chicago and Delta blues and surprised the audience with ventures into blues rock and a dreamy folk-tinged tune. Adjacent in the Gospel Tent, Bishop Joseph Carter and The Boyz from Slidell, Louisiana, energized attendees with an uplifting guitar-driven gospel set.

Seratones | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Seratones | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

With 14 stages hosting performances from a diverse array of musical genres simultaneously, festival-goers faced tough decisions about where to spend their time. However, with ample exotic food and drink options everywhere, indulgence was never a problem. The Shreveport soul-rock band Seratones kicked off the main Festival Stage with an energetic set that set a high bar for the day.

Dusky Waters | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Dusky Waters | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Dusky Waters sent waves of joy through the crowd at the Rhythmpourium Stage as they performed their album's title track, "Pass It On." Frontwoman Jenn Jeffer's expertly crafted songs and the tight-knit band's seamless shifts between banjo and guitar underscored her powerful vocals. Their cover of a song by their musical godmother, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, was a highlight, demonstrating both their respect for tradition and their innovative spirit.

Joaquín Pérez y su Herencia Ancestral | NOLA 2024

Joaquín Pérez y su Herencia Ancestral | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The festival's international appeal was highlighted by Colombian artists Joaquín Pérez y su Herencia Ancestral on the Jazz and Heritage stage, celebrating Colombia's rich musical heritage. At the same time, the Fi Yi Yi and Mandingo Warriors brought a slice of Mardi Gras Indian culture to the audience. Sunday’s line-up also featured impressive horn sections, with the Dirty Dozen Jazz Band and the Louis Armstrong 30th anniversary band playing to enthusiastic crowds.

 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell

Tonya Boyd-Cannon | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

At the massive Congo Square stage, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell was among the fans enjoying an outstanding performance by singer Tonya Boyd-Cannon. Her set took the audience on a journey from the church pews to the streets of New Orleans, through the pop charts and beyond. She even introduced her nine-month-old grandbaby Harmony to the stage, marking a special Jazz Fest debut.

Eric Lindell | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Back in the Blues Tent, Eric Lindell delivered a mix of bayou blues and roots rock. His soulful rasp and catchy originals have made him a standout in the roots-rock scene, blending West Coast rock with Gulf Coast R&B and adding elements of honky-tonk twang and Memphis soul.

Béla Fleck | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Béla Fleck My Bluegrass Heart | NOLA 2024

Béla Fleck, the renowned banjo virtuoso, returned to Jazz Fest with his My Bluegrass Heart band. They treated the audience to a masterclass in bluegrass picking, including a remarkable bluegrass reimagining of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," which showcased Fleck's skill as a musician, composer, and bandleader. The Bluegrass super jam featured veteran performers like Michael Cleveland, Sierra Hull, Justin Moses, Mark Schatz, and Bryan Sutton.

LVVRS | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The Gentilly stage rocked in the early afternoon with LVVRS, a young band from South Louisiana. Lead singer River Gibson channeled Mick Jagger, adding a dynamic presence to the band's 1970s rock 'n' roll fused with disco pop.

Nancy Heart | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Ann Heart | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Nancy and Ann Heart | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

The day concluded triumphantly on the Gentilly Stage with Heart, the legendary rock sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, captivating the largest crowd of the day. Despite over fifty years in the music industry, they showed no signs of slowing down, delivering hits like "Magic Man" and surprising the audience with covers of Led Zeppelin classics. Nancy Wilson shared a touching anecdote about her interaction with Eddie Van Halen, highlighting a memorable day filled with music and shared experiences.