Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

by Don Faust on May 7, 2012

Photo Essay for the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

This is the second in our series on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

If you have never been to the festival, the following photo essay may give you inspiration to go if you are heavily drawn to either music or culture.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

Our first stop as we entered the festival grounds led us to the Jazz and Heritage stage, where Walter Cook and the Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians were singing and dancing.  It didn’t take us long to get into the spirit of dancing and chanting along with the performers.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

The festival has ten stages/tents that you are free to wander between after you’ve enter the festival grounds.  The Fais Do Do stage is normally reserved for Cajun and Zydeco or country/folk influenced music, and if you are in the crowd, expect to see some couples two-stepping to the bands.  Our favorite band that played on this stage was the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a young  string band, who dip back into old traditional folk and country blues.  The band members are all multi-instrumentalists, playing violin, banjo, guitar, harmonica, snare drum, jug and kazoo (yes, a kazoo).

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

It’s not hard to see Mardi Gras relics throughout the festival.  Not far from the Fais Do Do stage, there was a craft tent that caught our attention with a table of decorated Krewe of Muses shoes.  The Muses, an all-female Mardi Gras krewe, decorate old throw-away shoes with metallic sprinkles and various adornments and throw them from their floats to the Mardi Gras revelers. Chris is a member and rides on a Mardi Gras float every other year. She’ll be back in 2013 (and needs to get started on her shoes).

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

The second day of the festival was a bit hotter than the first, so I took the opportunity to wander into the larger tent stages to sit down and cool off, normally rotating between the Blues Tent and the WWOZ Jazz Tent.  One of the highlights of the Blues Tent was Ironing Board Sam – he had a four piece band that rocked the socks off the entire crowd, dancing to the highly charged R&B songs.

http://www.travelphotos-caroundtheworld.com/photos/i-MNxPGRJ/0/L/i-MNxPGRJ-L.jpg

No Louisiana festival is complete without a wide array of food vendors to choose from, and JazzFest is no exception.  The vendors serve up anything from cochon de lait (roasted pig), gumbo, crawfish etouffee, po-boys (hoagies), and the list goes on.  At Jazzfest, there are about three or four locations spread throughout the festival grounds – needless to say, I must have had a half dozen mini-meals each day.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

Another favorite at the Blues Tent was Corey Harris.  I am familiar with his work, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss this session.  Corey is one of the new generation of musicians who focus on the kind of stripped-down guitar blues originating from the Mississippi delta and from players like Son House and Robert Johnson.  It was strictly an acoustic guitar and harmonica set – as the harmonica wailed into its rhythms, Corey bent the strings into a steely twang and played slide.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

The festival also has several areas dedicated to art and crafts – paintings, jewelry, clothing, folk art, etc.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

One of my favorite artists at the festival, Nicario Jimenez  of Andean decent, created little Day of the Dead scenes encased in colorful frames.  All of his miniature pieces are hand made from plaster.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

The festival always has major acts who play at the largest stage – sponsored as the Acura stage.  At this venue, people stake out their claim as early as possible in the day with tarps, and many bring seats and umbrellas to their areas.  Many people toward the front of the stage stand for the event.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

Can’t find your spot?  Hopefully, someone in your group brought a flag pole to mark your territory.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

A view of the Acura Stage.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

And the headliner performer… the Boss! (as seen on the big screen)

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

We didn’t want to forget the people who help keep the New Orleans music tradition alive – the local musicians and street performers…

… and they start young.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

During the Jazzfest, the Louisiana Music Factory, a record store specializing in regional music, hosted free concerts in their store.  We had a chance to see a few bands – standing-room only – including Trombone Shorty.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

It’s hard to visit New Orleans and the Jazzfest and not pay tribute to those that helped form the New Orleans musical style, including Louis Armstrong, who brought the unique sound to the masses.

Jazzfest 2012: New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Photo Essay

So, if you are ever wondering where American music and all that rock and roll you listen to was born, take a trip to New Orleans… and listen.

| Partner, Contributor and Photo Editor of the travel site www.caroundtheworld.com, winner of 2010 Lowell Thomas travel writing award.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Deise de Oliveira May 7, 2012 at 5:41 am

I really would love to go to New Orleans someday….

Reply

Don Faust May 8, 2012 at 1:21 am

Deise – You really should go, and you don’t have to go during Jazzfest or Mardi Gras (Carnival) – there will always be people there, good music and food (although I prefer to skip June through September – too hot for me).

Reply

Caroline May 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Looks so fun!

Reply

Sheri Doyle May 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Beautiful photos, Don! It was so much fun to share a bit of NOLA and Jazzfest with you and Chris. Great memories for sure.

Reply

Alexa Meisler May 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Love the shoes and Day of the Dead scenes! I’ve always been fascinated with that art and what it represents. Gosh I hope to experience the amazing Jazz festival some day.

Reply

Eric @ Trans-Americas Journey May 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Makes us miss NOLA and JazzFest, Had 8 years in a row until we headed south of the brder on our Journey

Reply

Chris May 22, 2012 at 10:08 am

Aw. You’ll have to come back sometime. New Orleans is more of a Caribbean state of mind anyway!

Reply

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