Jazz Fest 2007
February 6, 2007 10:10 PM   Subscribe

Help us plan our trip to New Orleans Jazz Fest!

Mrs. peeedro and I are planning a trip to New Orleans for the first weekend of Jazz Fest and the following week but leaving New Orleans before the second weekend of Jazz Fest. This is a biggie but any input on the following topics would be appreciated:

• Which performances should we see? We will be there for the first weekend (with a zillion performances scheduled). Dr. John, Lucinda Williams, Percy Sledge, and T-Bone Burnett are on my short list, but which of the other lesser known, local performers should we see? We like anything that gets the booty shaking; jazz, blues, zydeco, Latin, or rock are great but we're not so excited by R&B, gospel, and soul.

• Jazz Fest is only on the weekends, what should we do during the week while we are down there? We're big on historical, cultural, and natural landmarks as well as good spots for people-watching. We'll have a car and are willing to make a daytrip out of destinations outside of New Orleans.

• We are staying in Madisonville. Is there anything we should know about timing and traffic to get across Lake Pontchartrain?

• Which restaurants should we try? I'm vegetarian and the Mrs doesn't eat seafood so our choices are restricted. Are any of these places not to be missed?

• We might have a friend along for the ride, he's gay and into the Levi/Leather, country and western, light S&M scenes. Are there any particularly good bars or clubs for him? Bonus points for something straight friendly so we can enjoy a drink while he gets a chance to meet people.

• Above all else, nothing makes us happier than finding a place to drink good beer on the cheap. Does anyone have recommendations for laid-back places to quench our thirst? Of course, we'd be happy to meet any local MeFites at their favorite watering holes or anyone else making the trip down for the festivities.
posted by peeedro to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I've been there for Jazz Fest I've rented a car during the week. We had fun doing some bayou or plantation tours and just exploring. Also did the riverboat gambling thing. And the rest of the time we just spent in New Orleans gorging ourselves & drinking too much with my friends who live there.

I know you said you don't like it, but I dug the Gospel tent. I don't know, I just loved it in there. You say you don't like soul or R&B but some of that is mixed in with jazz & New Orleans music so I'm not sure how to categorize them exactly (with people like Irma Thomas for example). Let's see... other than people you mentioned? Calexico & Gillian Welch are good, although not jazz. I think she's certifiably nuts as a person, but you should catch Linda Hopkins onstage if you can, she's a piece of history & won't be around long I don't think. Terence Blanchard is really great jazzwise, love him. For the historical aspect of seeing them, I'd look into catching Van Morrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pete Fountain (!!!!), Arturo Sandoval, Mose Allison & Marva Wright. Otherwise, I'd probably gravitate towards whatever has word of mouth and is convenient to you especially regarding brass bands, cajun or creole stuff. I'd probably check out the Yellow Jackets & Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys though.

I'd give you ideas for restaurants but I didn't go to any vegetarian places. Have fun, though. If you can, sneak away from the Mrs. & have some mudbugs... just because they're there. And if she has her usual booth in the heritage tent, I recommend getting a gris gris bag from Sister Ava Kay Jones. She's seriously got some kind of juju happening... and I don't even believe in juju. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 11:03 PM on February 6, 2007

Response by poster: Awesome miss lynnster, thanks for the input and links.
posted by peeedro at 11:24 PM on February 6, 2007

We might have a friend along for the ride, he's gay and into the Levi/Leather, country and western, light S&M scenes. Are there any particularly good bars or clubs for him? Bonus points for something straight friendly so we can enjoy a drink while he gets a chance to meet people.

Rawhide 2010

And they tolerate straights in there (a number of my friends ended up there for a bachelor party, don't ask me how).

Just no cameras, they hate that.
posted by The Giant Squid at 6:58 AM on February 7, 2007

Also, Angeli is a terrific restaurant, with a pretty gothique clientele. And, although nobody likes a gothique, the food's pretty tasty.

Vegetarian options are kinda difficult to find in NOLA, but they definitely exist.
posted by The Giant Squid at 6:59 AM on February 7, 2007

There are vegetarian options available inside Jazz Fest, too. Great rice and beans with plantains, empenadas, and thai tofu spring rolls are some that I remember.

The Zydeco tent and the Salsa/Latin Stage next to it are an easy place to spend big chunks of time shaking booty. There is dancing all day every day at the Zydeco tent, accept when it is hosting unrelated music. The dancers will teach you how to cajun dance if you ask them.

Jazz fest isn't just on the weekends -- there are many great performances all around town all week in various clubs. Get a local alt. newspaper, I forget the name. Musicians that play separately during the fest get together and collaborate at night in the clubs. Some of the bands sound better in clubs than in the fest, I would rec. going to see the Hot 8 at a club, where everyone is going crazy. When I saw them, they went on around 2:30 am.

What did I do during the days when Jazz Fest was "off"? A lot of sleeping I think. I wish last year that I had stayed for a week to volunteer in the community. If you are up to it: Maybe there is a project you can help out with? Painting a house or gutting a house? There is so much to do. Just a day worth of service would make a big difference.
posted by Eringatang at 7:36 AM on February 7, 2007

The "local alt. newspaper" that Eringatang is referring to is the Gambit Weekly.
posted by The Giant Squid at 7:42 AM on February 7, 2007

Another vote for the gospel tent. I wandered in a few years ago and was blown away.
posted by mkultra at 8:59 AM on February 7, 2007

3rd the Gospel tent. I'm no follower of the spaghetti monster but the music in there is simply amazing. Also recommend going into the grandstand area where they do the artist interviews, some pretty amazing stuff to be heard and sometimes impromptu acoustic playing to accompany the interviews. Missed last year for 1st time in 7 years and probably this year because of my MBA schedule, but next year I'll be there for sure. Have a great time!
posted by white_devil at 10:09 AM on February 7, 2007

Last Year the Grandstand couldn't happen b/c it's roof was blown away in Katrina. I don't know if they have rebuilt.
posted by Eringatang at 11:32 AM on February 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. We'll hit the gospel tent for sure.
posted by peeedro at 4:58 PM on February 8, 2007

Best answer: I live in New Orleans. This will be my 5th or 6th jazzfest.


When you do hit the gospel tent, "Shades of Praise" is a good group to see.

If you do nothing else, you must see some brass bands. The Soul Rebels are good, and I highly recommend bonerama. Rebirth is probably the most well-known new brass band, and they're great to see at a club, as are the New Birth brass band. If you like jam bands, Galactic always plays a show at Tipitina's. They're playing 4/28 and 5/3 this year. The show is expensive, because just about every club in town has double or triple the normal cover, but you'll see some amazing music. Many clubs have an early(8pm), and evening(10 pm), and a late(2am) show. You should expect to sleep in and stay out late because although Jazzfest itself has some great shows, my favorite shows always end up being the ones I go to around town after the fest. Austin generally makes a pretty good showing, with bands like the Asylum Street Spankers playing a show or two. It may sound weird, but Definitely check out the Klezmer All-stars. They're kinda psychedelic jam-band jazz mixed with klezmer. You really have to see it to believe it. If you can't find anyone you want to go see at any given point, go down to the french quarter and visit places like Molly's on the Market and Cats Meow. For a less raucous time, D.B.A and Snug Harbor are great.

Foodwise, you really need to try to make it to Jacques-Imo's. It's a little off the beaten path, but you can get in any cab in the city and tell them Jacques-Imo's and they'll know where to take you. They don't take reservations for groups less than 6, and they're probably already all booked up for that weekend, but they might not be yet. Failing that you could always show up at 5pm and you probably won't have to wait too long, or you could just show up later and hang out and drink with the freaks in the street until they call you, which won't take much more than 2-3 hours. For fine cuisine, August, Bayona, and Cuveé are the most well-known. Herbsaint, Cochon, and Vizard's are also quite good. The Delachaise is small and often crowded, but they serve amazing food until quite late. Try the duck-fat fries. Don't try to schedule anything close after Jazzfest, though, because you'll want to go home and chill before going back out for the shows around town, and reservations are just too much of a bother, IMO. Save the fancy stuff for a weekday.

You mentioned that you were staying in Mandeville. You should be aware it's gonna take you at least an hour to get into the city, and you're really not going to want to drive all the way back there at 3 or 4 am after a long day of eating, drinking, and dancing. There are vacancies in New Orleans, so unless you've got some other reason for staying over there, I'd try to make other arrangements. Also, many people aren't aware that the location of Jazzfest at the Fairgrounds isn't anywhere near the French Quarter. There are buses that run frequently, and plenty of cabs.

So, to recap all that:

Brass bands
  • Rebirth
  • New Birth
  • Soul Rebels
  • bonerama

  • Shades of praise
  • anything in the gospel tent, really

    Late night bands
  • Klezmer All-stars
  • Morning 40 Federation
  • Asylum Street Spankers
  • Ozomatli

    People watching
  • Molly's at the Marker
  • The French Market

    General craziness
  • Cats Meow
  • Bourbon street itself

    More subdued
  • D.B.A.
  • The Spotted Cat
  • Snug Harbor

  • August
  • Bayona
  • Cuveé

  • Jacques-Imo's
  • One of everything they have at the fest
    (you've never seen festival food like this before)

    (note that the dress is casual everywhere except Commander's and Antoine's, which I don't even recommend)
  • Angeli on Decatur
  • Reginelli's
  • Nacho Mama's
  • Mona's - an indian chain all over town serving great vegetarian food

    Breakfast - not open much past noon
  • Surrey's - juice bar kinda place
  • The Bluebird - traditional bacon & eggs
  • Oak Street Cafe - Mostly traditional

    Well, I gotta go, I've got some parades to see and some beads to catch. Hope this helps!

  • posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:58 PM on February 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

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