A Dispatch from Jazz Fest
A look at Jazz Fest's local flavor
It’s late spring in New Orleans, which can mean only one thing—the city’s Jazz and Heritage festival is in full swing. The festival attracts annual crowds of more than 400,000 to the New Orleans Fairgrounds for a 13-stage celebration of diverse music, international culture, and indulgent Louisiana cuisine. And though marquee acts like Bruce Springsteen, Bon Iver, and Tom Petty play Jazz Fest’s larger stages, it’s the smaller venues where you’ll find the city’s own distinctive neighborhood traditions on full display.
The pocket-sized Jazz and Heritage stage is a perfect example. It’s where the brass bands blast their way through funky tuba-driven backbeats. It’s where the Mardi Gras Indians show off this year’s suits and beat out rhythmic vocals straight out of West Africa. It’s where the Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs gather to stage the parades that weave through often-confused festival-goers—sharp buck-jumpers juking hard in a blur of feathers and flashy suits. A few world music acts (Senegalese drummers, modern Slavic collectives) sweeten the mix, but on the whole, it’s a place where local grooves flow. Click here to see our gallery of images from the stage.