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April 27, 2011

It's Time for New Orleans Jazz Fest

by Doug Levine

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is back for its 42nd season (4/29-5/1 and 5/5-5/8), and the word is come early and stay late.

The good news is Jazz Fest 2011 is not sold out.  Matter of fact, Jazz Fest never sells out.  Tickets to the seven-day music extravaganza are always available at the gate, right up until the final note on closing night, so last-minute arrivals have nothing to worry about.

Staking out a great space near any of the 12 stages at the New Orleans fairgrounds is another matter.  An early arrival is highly recommended, but with hundreds of performers spanning almost 60 hours of every conceivable type of music, any spot at Jazz Fest is just fine.

Over time, the word jazz in New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has taken on a new meaning.  There’s lots of jazz, like Sonny Rollins, Ahmad Jamal, Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton, but there is also Robert Plant, Bon Jovi, Willie Nelson, Kid Rock, Jimmy Buffett and Tom Jones.  Yes, Tom Jones!

Jazz Fest is big on nostalgia so it’s not unusual to see pop sensation Tom Jones on this year’s schedule.

Star power aside, Louisiana-bred Cajun music, zydeco, gospel, blues, and Southern soul remain festival favorites.  Not to be missed, are the brass band parades, the Louisiana folklife village, a Native American village, food and crafts fair, and a special celebration of Haitian culture.  Jazz Fest closes on Sunday May 8.