Searching for Gems in the 2020 NOLA Jazz Festival Line-Up

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New Orleans Jazz Fest 2020 Logo

Calling all music connoisseurs! In need of some help sifting through the line-up of the New Orleans, LA (NOLA) Jazz festival! During the last 2 weekends of April, NOLA hosts 2 fun-filled, 4-day weekends of music on the Fair Grounds right outside of town. I’m interested in discovering musical gems who are not quite on the Grammy list. I “found” Kacey Musgraves at a Zac Brown music festival in South Carolina years ago – she is now a Grammy winner – to be quite honest, I like the old Kacey better.

The weather this time of year can be precarious. Hopefully it won’t rain – the last time we went (7 or 8 years ago?), we stood in 2 feet of water, under an umbrella, eating red beans and rice off a flimsy paper plate. It was fun for about 15 minutes.

Jazz Fest
Image from The Meridian Star – even in torrential rains, these people found joy anyway!

As you can see from the line-up a few paragraphs below, there are so many bands, how in the hell does one prioritize the day?? Once you get past the known headliners I have highlighted in bold, familiarity dwindles. I like to think I know a little something about music. Clearly, this isn’t the case. Band names these days are sometimes so funky and long, I can’t remember them. What happened to the simplicity of names like, Journey, Foreigner, the Cars, the Police, etc…..long live the 80’s!

Image result for comics about band names"

If you have a minute, take a look and see if anything rings a bell or you have a recommended band. I’ll be sure to add it to the list of jams to add to the experience. Tracksuit Wedding, Palmetto Bug Stompers and Shiny Ribs are the standouts – based on name alone! Anything with Zydeco in the title or with a hint of Latin or Reggae is a given and I’ll definitly be doing the hair toss and checking my nails with Lizzo!

What do you do to prep for a big music festival? Do you just wing it?


The Black Crowes, Jimmy Cliff, Brittany Howard, The War And Treaty, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, John Scofield & Dave Holland Duo, Ellis Marsalis, Cimafunk of Cuba, Wayne Toups, Jimmy Hall, Walter Wolfman Washington & The Roadmasters, Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars featuring Tab Benoit, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, Leyla McCalla, Ronnie Lamarque, iLe, Pirulo y La Tribu, and Viento de Agua of Puerto Rico, Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, Astral Project, New Hope Baptist Church Mass Choir, The Boudreaux Family of Feathers, Brother Tyrone & the Mindbenders, SOUL Brass Band, Ranky Tanky, Mark Braud, Glen David Andrews & the Andrews Family Band, Forgotten Souls Brass Band, Lil’ Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers, Black Lodge Singers, Feufollet, Cedric Watson et Bijou Creole, Music Maker Blues Revue featuring Willie Farmer, Robert Lee Coleman, Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen, Alabama Slim, and Lee Allen Zeno, Tracksuit Wedding, Shiny Ribs, High Steppers Brass Band, One Mind Brass Band, VIP Ladies and Original Four Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Seratones, Jonathon Long, NOLA Reggae featuring Renard Poché, Water Seed, Lisa Knowles-Smith & The Brown Singers, Square Dance NOLA, Daria & The Hip Drops, White Cloud Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Son del Batey, Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Sporty’s Brass Band, Revolution and Men Buckjumpers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Tom McDermott with Evan Christopher, The Pfister Sisters’ Tribute to The Andrews Sisters, Otis Wimberly Sr. and The Wimberly Family Gospel Singers, Tommy Sancton’s New Orleans Legacy Band, Phillip Manuel, Buffalo Hunters and Cheyenne Mardi Gras Indians, Andrew Hall’s Society Brass Band, Mark Brooks & Friends, Khari Allen Lee – Tribute to Grover Washington Jr., Betty Winn & One A-Chord, Caren Green, Marina Orchestra, Keyla Richardson, A.J. Loria, Roadside Glorious, Huval-Fuselier Cajun Band, Shades of Praise New Orleans Interracial Gospel Choir, Craig Adams & Higher Dimensions of Praise, Anne Elise Hastings and her Revolving Cast of Characters, Fermín y Merengue4FOUR, The Trio Plus One, Rosa Metoyer, Kurt Hunter Marionettes, Muggivan School of Irish Dance, Young Audiences Performing Arts Showcase…


Lionel Richie, Wu-Tang Clan featuring The Soul Rebels, Aaron Neville, Of Monsters and Men, Irma Thomas, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Leo Nocentelli, Davell Crawford plays James Booker, Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas, Sweet Crude, Bonerama, Savoy Family Cajun Band, The Brubeck Centennial Celebration with The Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Bobby Millitello and Joey DeFrancesco, Hot 8 Brass Band, Le’Andria Johnson, Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie, Charlie Sepulveda and The Turnaround, Pirulo y La Tribu and La Tribu de Abrante of Puerto Rico, Motel Radio, Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars, Eric Lindell & Marc Ford’s West Coast Reunion, New Orleans Suspects, Shannon McNally, Storyville Stompers Brass Band, Paul Sanchez & the Rolling Road Show, Comanche Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Nigel Hall, Johnny Sketch and The Dirty Notes, Stanton Moore, The Iguanas, Gregg Stafford’s Jazz Hounds, Charlie Gabriel and Friends, Herlin Riley, Jason Neville FunkySoul Band, Jazz Violinist Michael Ward, Gregg Martinez & the Delta Kings with special guests Johnnie Allan and T.K. Hulin, Kim Che’re, Palmetto Bug Stompers, Josh Kagler & Harmonistic Praise Crusade, Germaine Bazzle, Bamboula 2000 with special guest Deacon John, Viento de Agua and Son del Batey of Puerto Rico, Tribute to The New Orleans Rhythm Kings featuring Steve Pistorius, Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, Wild Tchoupitoulas and Black Feathers Mardi Gras Indians, Marc Stone, James Martin Band, Herbert McCarver & The Pin Stripe Brass Band, Charlie Halloran’s Tribute to Louis Armstrong and the Allstars, The Mid-City Aces, 7th Ward Creole Hunters and Golden Comanche Mardi Gras Indians, The Wanting, Black Lodge Singers, Panorama Jazz Band, Kerry Grombacher, The City of Love Music & Worship Arts Choir, Seva Venet’s New Orleans Banjo Celebration, Micaela y Fiesta Flamenca, Jackson Square Allstar Brass Band, Men of Class and Original Big 7 Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Voices of Peter Claver, The Swing Setters, Gina Forsyth and Friends, Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Spy Boy J & The Young Generation Mardi Gras Indians, Sylvia Yancy Davis, Pastor Terry Gullage and Kingdom Sound, Nineveh Baptist Church Mass Choir, New Generation Brass Band, Lady & Men Rollers and Perfect Gentlemen Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Delgado Community College Jazz Ensemble, The Showers Family, New Orleans Council on Aging Community Choir, Quincy Avenue Rhythm Band, Arte Reviver Capoeira New Orleans, Puppet Arts Theatre…


Dead & Company, Lizzo, The Isley Brothers, Keb’ Mo’, Nicky Jam, Tank and The Bangas, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, PJ Morton, Galactic featuring Anjelika Jelly Joseph, Cyril Neville, Tribute to Art Neville featuring Aaron Neville, The Meters, and The Neville Brothers Band, Boyfriend, Doug Kershaw, Partners-N-Crime & The BIG Ez Band, Roy Rogers & The Delta Rhythm Kings, Cowboy Mouth, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Fred Hammond, John Boutté, The Cookers featuring Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, Donald Harrison, David Weiss, George Cables, Cecil McBee, and Billy Hart, Walter Wolfman Washington Trio, Pine Leaf Boys, Molly Tuttle, Mia Borders, Chris Thomas King, Yvette Landry & The Jukes with special guest Warren Storm, New Breed Brass Band, Kenny Neal, Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers, Gathering of Chiefs: Walter Cook & The Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians with Friends, Westbank Steppers and Valley of Silent Men Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, La Tribu de Abrante, Pirulo y La Tribu, and Atabal of Puerto Rico, Tommy McLain + CC Adcock, Sweet Cecilia, Bill Summers & Jazalsa, Lena Prima, Tribute to George Lewis featuring Dr. Michael White, Sammy Rimington, and Tommy Sancton, Conjunto Típico Samaritano and Son del Batey of Puerto Rico, Tony Dagradi & Down Time, The Zion Harmonizers, Khris Royal & Dark Matter, Leroy Jones’ New Orleans Finest, New Orleans Nightcrawlers Brass Band, Blodie’s Jazz Jam, Eden Brent, J. Monque’D Blues Revue, Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, Smitty Dee’s Brass Band, Undefeated Divas & Gents and Original Pigeon Town Steppers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, T’Monde, Mariachi Jalisco, The Palm Court Jazz Band featuring Sammy Rimington, Young Magnolias, Wild Squatoulas, and 9th Ward Black Hatchet Mardi Gras Indians, Muévelo, Jermaine Landrum & The Abundant Praise Revival Choir, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries Choir, Da Truth Brass Band, Original Nine Times Ladies and Sudan Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Rich Collins, Grupo Sensacion, Claude Bryant and The Allstars, DinosAurchestra, Big Chief Juan & Jockimo’s Groove, Xeno Moonflower, Black Lodge Singers, OperaCréole, Comparsa de Puerto Rico, Northside Skull and Bone Gang, Connie & Dwight Fitch with St. Raymond and St. Leo the Great Choir, NOCCA Student Jazz Ensemble, Neo-Tokyo 2020 featuring Takeshi Shimmura, Keiko Komaki & Satoru Ohashi, Jack Barksdale, Tonia Scott & Anointed Voices, Creole Osceola Black Masking Indians, Black Foot Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, The Legendary Rocks of Harmony, Curtis Pierre with The Samba Kids, Donate Puppets of Puerto Rico, Stephen Foster’s Foster Family Music Program, E’Dana & Divinely Destin, New Orleans Dance Collective…


Stevie Nicks, The Lumineers, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, John Prine, Kool & the Gang, Chick Corea: Vigilette with Carlitos Del Puerto and Marcus Gilmore, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Jenny Lewis, Lowrider Band, The Radiators, Tribute to Dr. John with special guests Irma Thomas, Jon Cleary, Ivan Neville, Davell Crawford, Deacon John, and John “Papa” Gros with the Dr. John All-Star Alumni Band, The Campbell Brothers, Davell Crawford, Terence Blanchard featuring the E-Collective, Zigaboo Modeliste and The Funk Revue, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters, Kermit Ruffins’ Tribute to Louis Armstrong, Original Pinettes Brass Band, James Andrews & the Crescent City All-Stars, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Jo-El Sonnier & Friends, Curley Taylor & Zydeco Trouble, Mr. Sipp “The Mississippi Blues Child”, Bobby Lounge, Deak Harp, Naughty Professor, MoFess, J & The Causeways, .AM., Atabal and Conjunto Típico Samaritano of Puerto Rico, The Mississippi Mass Choir, Da Souljas Brass Band, Original New Orleans Lady Buckjumpers and Prince of Wales Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Tim Laughlin, Preservation Brass, Amina Figarova Sextet, DJ Captain Charles, Lulu and the Broadsides, Esther Rose, Lawrence Sieberth featuring Michael Rodriguez, Big Chief Bo Dollis, Jr. & The Wild Magnolias, Joy Clark, The Caesar Brothers FunkBox, Young Pinstripe Brass Band, Leo Jackson & The Melody Clouds, Ninth Ward Hunters, Monogram Hunters, and Algiers Warriors Mardi Gras Indians, Pastor Cynthia Girtley, Troy Turner’s Blues Band, Kim Carson, Gerald French & the Original Tuxedo Brass Band, Evangelist Jackie Tolbert, Zulu Gospel Male Ensemble, Dayna Kurtz with Robert Mache, David L. Harris, Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band, Doyle Cooper, Davis Rogan, Johnette Downing and Scott Billington, Ryan Foret & Foret Tradition, Patrice Fisher & Arpa with Eddie Balzola & Oriente Cuban Band, Black Lodge Singers, Son del Batey of Puerto Rico, Mohawk Hunters and The Seminole Mardi Gras Indians, UNO Jazz Studies Allstars, The Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music Band, Southern University Baton Rouge Jazzy Jags, Val & Love Alive Mass Choir, Franklin Avenue Music Ministry, Real Untouchable Brass Band, Ole & Nu Style Fellas, Good Fellas, and Original C.T.C. Steppers Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Arthur and Friends Community Choir, The RRAAMS, Kai Knight’s Silhouette Dance Ensemble, Versailles Lion Dance Team, Burke Riley Cajun Quintet, Culu Children’s Traditional African Dance Company…

Thanks for the help!

…i choose this….



          1. It opened it a very very limited release in December, and wide in January. I’m not surprised you didn’t hear about it…there wasn’t much buzz, which I think worked in it’s favor, because I went in with low expectations and was blown away

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  1. Wow, that’s a lot of performers, now I see why you are looking for suggestions! I wish I could help, but I haven’t heard about any of them 🙈 Have a great time at the festival, it certainly sounds amazing! Aiva 😊

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    1. Nina! The weather is super crazy this time of year. This time, I will be more prepared with a rain jacket, a better umbrella, and some decent rain boots. I think I wore off -white shorts that became see-through during the first downpour. lol.

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  2. Wow, that is a prodigious list. For some good old New Orleans Jazz give Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra a try. I’ve heard Nathan Williams & The Zydeco Cha Chas. Doug Kershaw plays a lively fiddle.
    Here in the Bay Area we have the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (HSB) that I’ve gone to a couple of times. From my experience,
    I would try not to wing it. I just plan the day from start to finish.
    Before I go if a band looks intriguing I usually “audition” them on YouTube.
    If you’ve been to a music fest, you know the headliner stage is going to be the most packed.
    For me the biggest downside of HSB has been trying to hear the music over the people who just sit around and talk.
    That’s about the best I can do for the festival.
    If you have time away from the festival I would suggest going to the corner of Royal and St. Peter streets in the Quarter. Doreen Ketchens is often playing there during the afternoon.
    For clubs, The Spotted Cat, Fritzel’s European Jazz Club and the place that I am vowing to go to if I ever get to NOLA, The Rock n’ Bowl which is just what the name suggests.
    Whatever you do it’s hard not to have a good time in NOLA.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good idea on the interview on You-Tube. Appreciate the intel on some of the bands you know! We will definitly spend some time in NOLA – thanks for the recs – these all sound fab. We have some good restaurants reserved which I am excited about. IMO, NOLA is right behind SFO on some of the best food in the US.

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  3. I was thinking you’d be listing 10 or so bands each day … holy sh–, how would anyone plan his/her day at one of these things? Luckily, I will never know because I dislike music festivals – haha. I’ve actually been to this one in New Orleans (back in those wonderful 80s, no less), but that was only because my best friend from college lived in NO and loved jazz. I don’t like jazz either, so a jazz music festival might be my worst nightmare. No, it would be a jazz music festival in the rain with red beans and rice! But hey – have a great time! 🙂

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    1. I know right??? Too many to get my head wrapped around! I cannot believe you don’t like Music festivals – what is wrong with you?? LOL. This festival has so much more than Jazz – I think last year the Rolling Stones were there. There are some rap groups on the list too which I am not a fan of….good thing there is a long list of other options! I’ll report back on the experience – you may have wished you had gone. haha.

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  4. Oh wow!! I’m sure you’re going to have an amazing time! Outside of the ones you have in bold, I hadn’t heard of most of them. As a 90’s teen who listened to Biggie and Tupac, I have, of course, heard of Wu-Tang Clan. And for some reason, I feel like I might have heard of Alabama Slim before. I love Stevie Nicks and the Lumineers! Lizzo is pretty awesome too! 🙂

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  5. So glad you asked…let’s stay in touch and hopefully meet at the fest. We are going for both weekends and there are so many great choices! Don’t miss Norah Jones, in her gig as Norah Jones or with her fab girl band Puss in Boots. We love Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars and also The Cookers. We did a series a few years ago for Jazz Fest anticipation- – and will be starting it back up again soon. Let us know if you want to guest- or partner-blog!

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  6. Big Sam’s Funky Nation is GREAT! Very funky., the Soul Rebels are a unique brass band among all the brass bands in New Orleans, I think. Soul, funk, reggae influences. Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias are going to be an interesting show….Mardi Gras Indian Krewe funk.

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