New Orleans Jazz Fest 2016 Guide

A Jazz Fest guide for oldies music fans

The Official NOLA Jazz Fest 2016 Poster
The Official NOLA Jazz Fest 2016 Poster. nojazzfest.com

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is an embarrassment of riches for music lovers, touching not just upon jazz music, but also lots of R&B, blues, rock, gospel, world music, hip-hop, and cajun/zydeco. So how can an oldies fan best spend his time at the 2016 Jazz Fest? Here's a handy day-by-day guide to "the Fest" from yours truly, who's been going since he was a child.

Week One

Friday, April 22

11:20 am: Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes
Gentilly Stage
They started out as a drunken goodtime band, but they've developed into the leading edge of New NOLA jam bands.

12:20 pm Flow Tribe
Gentilly Stage
NOLA has a swarm of slightly ironic, drunken, shaggy-dog funk-rock bands, but these guys are the most beloved.

1:35 pm Alvin "Youngblood" Hart's Muscle Theory
Blues Tent
One of the last living masters of both electric juke joint and acoustic Delta blues.

2:50 pm Matt Lemmler presents “The Music of Stevie Wonder” featuring Brian Blade
Zatarain's WWOZ Jazz Tent
What happens when a classically trained jazzman takes on Stevie's more exploratory numbers.

3:35 pm Michael McDonald
Acura Stage
The former Doobie Brother and blue-eyed soul mainstay in his first Jazz Fest appearance.

5:30 pm Steely Dan
Acura Stage
If there was ever a massive 70's band that should play this Jazz Fest, this is the one.

Saturday, April 23

11:20 am Bobby Cure Band & the New Orleans R&B Revue featuring Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Robert Parker, Sammy Ridgley, and Jo “Cool” Davis
Gentilly Stage
A who's who of classic one-off Crescent City Soul wonders, led by the city's greatest show band leader.

1:00 pm Big Sam’s Funky Nation
Gentilly Stage
A more modern and urban approach to classic New Orleans funk.

2:20 pm Tab Benoit
Gentilly Stage
The greatest living master of Baton Rouge Swamp Blues, a dual threat on vocals and guitar!

4:00 pm John Hammond
Blues Tent
The John Hammond, Sixties white acoustic bluesman extraordinaire, admired by Clapton, The Band, and Hendrix.

5:40 pm Van Morrison
Gentilly Stage
Van the Man is back! And he's taking a decidedly jazzy turn these days, which makes him an even better fit.

Sunday, April 24

11:20 am The Revealers
Jazz & Heritage Stage
Folks often forget that New Orleans is also a very Caribbean town, and this may be the best local reggae band.

12:20 pm The New Orleans Suspects
Acura Stage
An amazing local blues-rock supergroup with an accent on the funk.

1:20 pm Preston Shannon
Blues Tent
The best modern soul guitarist and singer in all of Memphis? That's the buzz.

3:05 pm Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars
Acura Stage
Tab Benoit leads several Nevilles, Mardi Gras Indians, and local sessionmen in a supergroup dedicated to raising ecological awareness.

4:15 pm The Taj Mahal Trio
Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage
The legend who first brought blues and world music together, and still potent today.

5:55 pm The Iguanas
Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage
One of NOLA's legendary jam bands, combining Cajun and Latin elements with soulful funk.

Click "Next" for Week Two...

Week Two

Thursday, April 28

11:20 am Colin Lake
Acura Stage
Seattle transplant who's taken the local blues-rock scene by storm with his slide guitar.

12:20 pm George Porter Jr. & Runnin' Pardners
Acura Stage
The Meters bassist's "side project" is as respected in the city as his main band.

1:45 pm Lost Bayou Ramblers with special guests Rickie Lee Jones and Spider Stacy
Gentilly Stage
Rock and roll done Cajun style, with surprises!

4:10 pm The Suffers
Congo Square Stage
Making noise nationally with their "Gulf Coast Blues," these guys could be the next Alabama Shakes.

5:30 pm Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Gentilly Stage
The former angry young punk has developed into a master stylist that includes Americana and New Orleans Soul.

Friday, April 29

11:25 am Mississippi Rail Company
Gentilly Stage
What sounds like the entire history of New Orleans music, if it were filtered through the sensibility of an indie pop band.

12:15 pm Tony Hall’s New Orleans Soul Stars Tribute to James Brown
Congo Square Stage
A mainstay of the local funk scene brings back the Godfather of Soul with some help from one of James' actual saxmen.

1:30 pm Luther Kent & Trickbag
Blues Tent 
Big-band soul music led by a voice so powerful he once sang lead for Blood Sweat & Tears.

3:20 pm Irma Thomas
Acura Stage
"It's Raining," "Ruler Of My Heart," "Time Is On My Side," "Break-A-Way"...

her contributions to '60s soul are immeasurable.

5:15 pm Paul Simon
Acura Stage
Art who?

Saturday, April 30

11:20 am Deacon John's Jump Blues
Acura Stage
The premiere session guitarist in Sixties New Orleans is a living legend on its soul scene.

12:30 am The Soul Rebels
Acura Stage
Pioneers of real brass-band funk and hip-hop.

1:40 pm Jon Batiste and Stay Human
Acura Stage
Yes, it's Colbert's backup band, but Jon is an encyclopedia of New Orleans music all his own.

2:35 pm Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings
Blues Tent
A modern slide guitar master who learned the blues at the feet of John Lee Hooker himself.

4:00 pm Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen
Blues Tent
Big-band R&B that incorporates just about any element you can think of in America... and beyond.

5:00 pm Stevie Wonder
Acura Stage
The man who not only created but epitomized modern R&B, in his first Jazz Fest appearance in eight years.

Sunday, May 1

11:20 am Brother Tyrone & the Mindbenders
Blues Tent
Deep soul-blues with a modern urban sheen. 

12:40 pm Aaron Neville
Gentilly Stage
The Voice is still angelic, and still tinged with gospel, although he's on the big stage this year.

2:20 pm Tribute to Allen Toussaint hosted by The Allen Toussaint Band with special guests Cyril Neville, Davell Crawford, Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. John, and Jon Batiste
Gentilly Stage
A tribute to the recently deceased songwriter and producer, who was to New Orleans Soul what Berry Gordy was to Detroit.

3:25 pm The Isley Brothers featuring Ronald and Ernie Isley
Congo Square Stage
Two-thirds of the original group that ruled R&B for almost three decades.

5:45 pm Tribute to B.B. King hosted by B.B. King’s Blues Band with special guests Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Elvin Bishop, Dr. John, Gregory Porter, Irma Thomas, Tab Benoit, and Luther Kent
Gentilly Stage 
The bluesmen of this year's Fest close it out with a tribute to the master.