By Terri Hemmert

I really appreciate it that sometimes New Orleans throws a big party on my birthday. That would be Sunday. What a way to celebrate life! If you’re heading for the fest this weekend print and pack these recommendations. Check other blogs for Friday and Saturday at this site. If you’re not going, fix a plate of red beans and rice, mix a hurricane and watch the videos. I’m not going to say it’s almost as good as being there, but you will enjoy them.

So Dave Matthews Band at the Acura Stage will draw people like a bee to honey, which means the whole fairgrounds won’t be as jammed as usual. When I started going to the fest almost 30 years ago, it was easy to move around. That was then. So a big name sometimes frees up the stage areas and food concessions. If we were on a boat, the side of the ship that is the Acura Stage would probably tip over the whole ship. Luckily we’re on land. In addition to DMB on that stage you can see Better Than Ezra at 1:40 and the Nevilles at 3:10. Notice I did not say the Neville Brothers. Aaron has left the band. He’s still their brother. But now it’s Art, Charles, Cyril and friends. Still worth checking out. Even if you’ve seen them in Chicago, gotta check em out on their home turf.

The Gentilly Stage is very interesting Sunday. Calexico at 3:20 and The Gypsy Kings at 5:25. And get there early at 1:55 for a set by
C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band. It’s Clifton’s kid.

Earth, Wind and Fire are playing 5:30 at the Congo Square. Cool booking. There’s also music from Brazil and the trombone player of Dirty Dozen Brass Band has his own band..Big Sam’s Funky Nation at 1:50. How come brass bands weren’t that cool when we in high school band?

My pic for the Jazz Tent would be the amazing vocalist Dianne Reeves at 4:10. She was born in Detroit. Could she be related to Martha Reeves of Martha & The Vandellas? If you see her, please ask for me.

The Blues Tent has a solid line up closing the weekend with B.B. King at 6:00. If you’ve never seen the king of the blues, this is your chance. What you really don’t wanna miss (trust me) is Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers. You may have seen Kermit on Treme, the excellent HBO series based in New Orleans. I saw Kermit for the first time probably 20 years ago at Tipitinas. I’ll never forget it. Have a nice photo of him hangin’ in my home. He’s playing his trumpet on a deserted New Orleans street in front of a funeral home. He’s amazing. The spirit of Louis Armstrong lives.

The Economy Hall Tent features some outstanding tributes to some of the New Orleans Jazz pioneers. If you struggled over the trombone in school, this should drive out the demons that still linger. Tribute to Kid Ory: Hot Trombones. That’s at 4:15, about the time you’re looking for a seat.

Make sure you get to Fais Do Do Stage at least once for some cajun or zydeco music. And for some Tex Mex check out Little Joe Y La Familia. Lots of smiling and dancing at that stage. When those trumpet start up, you’ll wish the weekend would never end.

The Jazz & Heritage stage features Mardi Gras Indians. You can’t do better than Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indians. I’ve seen them many times. Highly recommended by your D.J.

The Gospel Tent will be jumping with some righteous church choirs. But you have the chance to see one of the great gospel male vocal groups,The Zion Harmonizers. The real deal. Hung out with them decades ago in front of Tower Records (R.I.P). Went to see one of those in-store free concerts. We were leaning against a couple of cars in front of the store, chatting. It was a hot, humid Monday afternoon, and they were wearing polyester leisure suits. How they could stand there and talk to me without fainting…a miracle. The year was 1991. They had just performed the day before at the Gospel Tent with Aaron Neville. I remember how good that was!

And there will be some good interviews you can enjoy live in the grandstand. Earth, Wind and Fire at 11:30, at 1:15 all about Kid Ory, Dianne Reeves at 2:15 and Little Joe at 3:15.

If you want to go to mass the choir sings 11:00 Sunday mornings at St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square. Remember. Sunday is my birthday. If you wanna buy me a drink chances are I won’t say no. I’m NOT the designated driver in New Orleans.

And at the fest have some crawfish bread, crawfish po-boy, crawfish sacks, crawfish beignets, boiled crawfish, crab and crawfish stuffed mushrooms, and if you’re only going to eat crawfish just once, make sure its crawfish monica. I’m going to have some, inject myself with my epipen and go to E.R. What a way to go.


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