Jazz and Heritage Festival Sets Starting with BB King…

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This was my first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival so I bought a WWOZ Brass Pass to attend every day. I was not disappointed as there were some amazing performances. What follows is the second half of my favorite performances.

The common thread in these was high energy and an intense connection with the audience. I saw many other musicians that I really like but these Jazz Fest sessions moved me the most. I could not pick a best so the following are listed in alphabetical order.

BB King provided an emotional set and talked a lot. Allen Toussiant came out to give him praise.  He said at the end that New Orleans has the best musicians of any city in the world. When he was young and playing his blues in Memphis he was hesitant to come down to New Orleans and play in front of them.  He closed his set with “Saints” as a tribute to the city.

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Rosie Ledet and Zydeco Playboys have become my favorite living Zydeco group.  She has a very danceable beat and does not play too fast like some of the other newer generation.

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Taj Mahal has been a long favorite. He closed out the Blues tent with ten tubas and sousaphones.

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Jeffrey Osborne offered his sexy soul music from the 80s to a large crowd at Congo Square.

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Irma Thomas tribute to Mahalia Jackson was intense. She put so much emotion into the music that she had to be helped off the stage.

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101 Runners is a great Mardi Gras Indian funk band fronted by two chiefs and backed some strong New Orleans musicians. At one point Chief Juan Pardo’s daughter was dancing to her father’s music. He brought her up on stage and then held her up.

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Bill Ives
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