Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jazz Fest announces lineup

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival announced its 2011 lineup Thursday, bringing back controversial rockers Bon Jovi, whose fans heckled local legend Dr. John the last time the New Jersey rockers played Jazz Fest. Hopefully the programmers won't schedule Dr. John before Bon Jovi this time around.

Other acts booked for the festival, whose historic mission is to showcase the rich musical tradition of Louisiana, include such national touring headliners as Arcade Fire, Jimmy Buffett, Sonny Rollins, Kid Rock, John Mellencamp, Wilco, Robert Plant, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Willie Nelson, The Strokes, Tom Jones, Jeff Beck, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend and The Roots, Wyclef Jean, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Arlo Guthrie, Gregg Allman, The Decemberists, Bobby Blue Bland, Keb' Mo', Ahmad Jamal, Lucinda Williams, Ron Carter and Maceo Parker.

This year's festival will once again take place over two consecutive weekends, April 29 - May 1 and May 5 - 8. With twelve stages of virtually every style of roots music, Jazz Fest presents one of the entertainment world’s most diverse music lineups, including its unparalleled showcase of Louisiana’s unique culture. Hundreds of thousands of fans annually flock to the seven-day event that has been called America’s best festival.

Featured Louisiana artists include Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Mystikal, Pete Fountain, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Better Than Ezra, Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic, Tab Benoit, The Radiators, Cowboy Mouth, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Marcia Ball, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ellis Marsalis, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Sonny Landreth, Henry Butler, Papa Grows Funk, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, John Boutté, Terence Blanchard, Amanda Shaw, The New Orleans Bingo! Show, Jon Cleary, Partners N Crime with 5th Ward Weebie, Soul Rebels Brass Band, Joseph Zigaboo Modeliste, Glen David Andrews, Anders Osborne, Buckwheat Zydeco, George Porter, Jr. & Runnin’ Pardners, Big Freedia & Sissy Nobby, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, MyNameIsJohnMichael, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters, Zachary Richard, Warren Storm - Willie Tee & Cypress, Honey Island Swamp Band, Bonerama, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Nicholas Payton, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Jeremy Davenport, Deacon John, Donald Harrison, Astral Project, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles, Banu Gibson, Shamarr Allen, Pine Leaf Boys, Mia Borders, Hot 8, Mahogany, New Birth & Pinstripe Brass Bands, Roots of Music Marching Crusaders Band and The Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians.

Quint Davis, producer/director of Jazz Fest said, “The 2011 Jazz Fest lineup will deliver an unprecedented balance of the traditional and the contemporary, in all of the many music categories the Festival presents: from Bon Jovi, Sonny Rollins and Arcade Fire to Jimmy Buffett, Kid Rock, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson to Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Strokes and Robert Plant and on and on, along with the unending list of New Orleans super talents. This lineup reminds us that the artists we grew up with are now the icons of today, and that today’s new heroes are tomorrow’s heritage. We’re honored to be able to once again celebrate the soul of America as only New Orleans and the Jazz Fest can.”

Randy Phillips, president & CEO, AEG Live, which co-produces the Festival said, "Once again, Quint Davis and the Jazz Fest Team have been able to amass one of the largest and deepest musical lineups of any festival in the world today. AEG Live is proud to play a major role in the production of this beloved event."

The 2011 Festival will also host the largest celebration of Haitian culture in the U.S. since the devastating earthquake one year ago. New Orleans and Haiti have shared a deep cultural connection for over three hundred years and many of the local traditions and customs owe their roots to this complex Caribbean country. The Jazz Fest is proud and honored to host the icons of Haitian music and culture including Wyclef Jean, Tabou Combo, RAM, Boukman Eksperyans, Emeline Michel, Djakout #1, DJA-Rara and Ti-Coca & Wanga Négès. The many cultural connections will be illustrated throughout all aspects of this year’s Festival. Some highlights include traditional Vodou drumming performances, folk crafts demonstrations led by visiting master artisans and rara band DJA-Rara parading throughout the Fair Grounds. With the support of the Green Family Foundation, the program will also include a series of scholar-led panel discussions entitled Haiti & New Orleans: Cultural Crossroads as well as a listening station featuring excerpts from the Grammy nominated recordings of Dr. Alan Lomax made in Haiti for the Library of Congress in 1936-1937.

The Jazz Festival offers three VIP packages: the Big Chief VIP Experience ticket package provides special viewing access at most of the Festival’s stages; the Grand Marshal VIP Pass allows for up-close access at the three major stages; and the Krewe of Jazz Fest VIP Pass entitles patrons to special covered seating at the Acura Stage audience area only. The Festival offers a layaway arrangement for any of the VIP packages. For information on layaway visit

Tickets for the Festival, which takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course, went on sale Thursday. A limited number of discount ticket packages including tickets to each day of a particular weekend of the Festival will be offered. Ticket packages purchased for all three days of the first weekend (April 29, 30 & May 1) will be $120 ($40 per day), while second weekend packages purchased for all four festival days (May 5, 6, 7, & 8) will be $160 ($40 per day). (Tickets included in each package are day-specific.) Advance single day Jazz Fest tickets are $45; the gate price is $6. Children’s tickets (ages 2 - 10) are still only $5 and are available at the gate only. Single day tickets to Jazz Fest are on sale by specific weekend, with each ticket valid for a single day’s attendance.

Tickets are available at and, at all Ticketmaster outlets or by calling (800) 745-3000. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Jazz Fest ticket office located at the New Orleans Arena Box Office. All Jazz Fest tickets are subject to additional service fees and handling charges.

A listing of hotels offering special Jazz Fest rates is posted at, where patrons can effortlessly reserve their hotel rooms for the event. Festivalgoers can peruse room availability and book their accommodations early taking advantage of some of the best prices offered at participating hotels.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc. is the nonprofit organization that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest for year-round activities in the areas of education, economic development and cultural events. Education programs include the Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music and the Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series. Economic Development initiatives include the Community Partnership Grants, the Raisin’ the Roof housing program, the Sync Up conference and the Jazz & Heritage Talent Exchange web site. Cultural events include the Jazz Journey concert series and free community festivals: the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival, the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival and the Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival. The Foundation also owns radio station WWOZ 90.7-FM, the Jazz & Heritage Archive, the Jazz & Heritage Gallery and the Jazz & Heritage Center. The Jazz & Heritage Gala raises funds for Foundation programming with a black-tie event to start the Jazz Fest season on Thursday, April 28 at the Hilton Riverside Hotel. For more information, please call the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation at (504) 558-6100 or visit

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zenyatta horse of the year

Zenyatta, one of the greatest racehorses of all time, has finally been acknowledged for something she did on the racetrack by the National Turf Writers, which voted her Horse of the Year. She was wrongfully denied this honor last year in favor of the overhyped filly Rachel Alexandra, who was skillfully kept from a head to head meeting with Zenyatta, a meeting which would have certainly shattered Rachel's celebrity. The anti-Zenyatta sentiment in last year's voting reflected a longstanding hostility between the East Coast and West Coast horseracing establishment. The outcry was so fierce it undoubtedly shamed some of theose voters into doing the right thing this time around.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy birthday!

I've taken some time off from posting but am pleased to return to action in time to celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Dr. King was truly one of the greatest Americans. His message of hope for a more enlightened future and love and respect for all humankind inspired a generation. The passionate logic of his arguments is sorely missed in today's world, where even political leaders as brilliant as Barack Obama find it difficult to deliver a message with the apparent effortlessness Dr. King brought to his teachings. We are left with a world in which bigots and apologists for the super rich dominate our political discourse by owning the mass media. Anyone who dares oppose them is labeled a communist or "liberal." But in a country where Richard Nixon's policies would now have him branded as a liberal it's pretty obvious that there's no left wing political establishment remaining. Dr. King, like the Kennedys and so many others, was eliminated by the "second amendment remedies" that are now apparently beyond reproach. Let's hope that Dr. King's vision will resurface in these difficult times, no matter whose cross hairs are targeting those who follow in his footsteps. His courage was an American value that will never die while his words remain an inspiration for all of us to dream of a better future.