PREVIEW: 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

by Jordan McGuire on March 2, 2015


The lineup has been announced and the stars are aligned for the 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The festival will kick off its first weekend Friday, April 24-26. The second weekend will begin Thursday, April 30 and continue through Sunday, May 3. Legends like Elton John, The Who, Jimmy Buffett, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Widespread Panic and Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will be featured in this year’s stellar cast.

I will break down each day, let you know who to check out, and what snap chats will make all of your friends jealous.


Friday, April 24: The first day of the festival includes performances from Keith Urban, Wilco, Jimmy Cliff, Hozier and New Orleans’ own Earphunk. I’m not a huge fan of Keith Urban, but if you can get close enough to the stage you might be able to catch a glimpse of his beautiful Australian wife, Nicole Kidman. Worth it. Even if Jimmy Fallon doesn’t think so.

Wilco and Jimmy Cliff are sure to put on great performances. Hozier has been radio-hot lately. His song “Take Me To Church” will probably be towards the end of his setlist, guaranteeing people to stick around until they hear “I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies.”

Finally, you must go see Earphunk. The name alone is pretty sweet. These guys are New Orleans natives who have brought high energy white boy funk to a whole new level. They’re fun, they’re young and hip, and have very cool stage production. They’re essential to your snap chat story.


Saturday, April 25: The first Saturday of Jazz Fest is jam-packed with outstanding acts. These acts include fabled British rock band, The Who, John Legend, Juvenile and Nola native Mannie Fresh, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Shovels & Rope, The Revivalists, Big Sam’s Funky Nation and an old veteran of the festival, Walter “Wolfman” Washington.

Let’s begin with The Who, one of the most storied and everlasting bands of the century. The Who have toured together longer than Rapunzel’s hair. They have the energy of twenty-year-olds and rock louder than most young bands do today. They are your pinnacle end-of-the-night rager.

John Legend is coming off of an inspirational performance at the 87th Oscars. He is smooth, talented, his last name rocks and maybe we’ll see a guest performance from Common. Next up is the bounce and hip-hop extraordinaire Juvenile and Mannie Fresh. Juvy will make you move in slow motion while you back dat azz up.

If you’ve seen the funkiest veterans of the festival, Dumpstaphunk, you need little introduction. Ivan Neville and his squad create sounds that enable you to stand still. Throw your lawn chairs away for this show and get ready to groove.

One of the best folk/grassroots bands around is Shovels & Rope. This husband-and-wife duo hail from Charleston, South Carolina and harmonize with the best of them. They will be a great show to watch with your shades drawn and laying on that blanket that you’ll have to wash nineteen times after the weekend.


Sunday, April 26: Sunday will round out the first weekend with Jimmy Buffett, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Allen Toussaint and Rebirth Brass Band.

Jimmy Buffett is one of my favorite shows to watch. The guy literally walks to the beat of his own drum. The Margaritaville native wears flip-flops, sweat bands, shades and no sunscreen. He constantly lives in an aspiring boyish daze and no need to check your watch because it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.

A show that I truly want to check out is the odd but Grammy-award winning pair of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The Mother Monster is flying high after her incredible tribute to “The Sound of Music” at the 87th Oscars. She was also recently cast in American Horror Story.

Don’t go see Pitbull. We’ve all seen him enough on those atrociously brutal Pepsi commercials.

The man, the myth, the legend Allen Toussaint will grace the stage at Jazz Fest. Toussaint has been involved with the music industry since the dawn of time. He has had his hand in albums from Paul McCartney, The Band, Etta James and Dr. John, just to name a few.

Finally, the annual performance of Rebirth Brass Band at Jazz Fest never disappoints. Smooth horns, vocals and stage presence is always a site to see.


Thursday, April 30: If you like jam bands and you attended Phish on Thursday last year, then get your tie-dye shirts ready and show some love for Widespread Panic. Unfortunately there won’t be “the lot” experience but I’m sure you’ll find what you need in the crowd.

If you loved the Coen’s O’ Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, then go listen to the glorious vocals of Alison Krauss. Krauss will perform with Union Station. The Grammy-award winning artist has a voice that Brennan Huff wishes he had.


Friday, May 1: The first day of May will be a blast, No Doubt. One of the most exciting news I heard of the festival was the revival of Macy Gray. She will play alongside Galactic and boy am I excited. Get your snap chats ready for the “I try to say good-bye and I choke” line.

Shooter Jennings and Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr will also perform. A great act to check out is Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes. You can sketch over to The Prytania Bar and see him before he hits the festival stages.


Saturday, May 2: One of the biggest names to ever play at Jazz Fest is Elton John. This Tiny Dancer has been controversially lovable for years and years. He is joined by ginger sensation Ed Sheeran, TI, Jerry Lee Lewis and the “Queen of Bounce” herself, Big Freedia.
I am incredibly enthused to see Elton John. When he belts “Tiny Dancer,” I will immediately be taken back to Stillwater’s tourbus scene in Almost Famous.

The Brit pop-star Ed Sheeran will play to a huge crowd. Ladies, please keep all arms and legs outside of the barricades. Now, if you listen to one thing in this piece it’s this: Go. See. Big. Freedia. After attending the Queen of Bounce’s show, you will certainly need a shower and a bottle of Axe body spray (can’t believe I just typed that). Test yourself; see how fast you can move.


Sunday, May 3: The secret’s out, Lenny Kravitz is this year’s surprise performer. The smooth, always shirtless, nose-pierced, Super Bowl performer will serenade with powerful electric guitar rifts and awesome showmanship. Joining him are the Coors Light heroes, The O’Jays, Buddy Guy, The Meters, Dr. John and the reinvented jam and blues infused musician Anders Osborne.

Notably, Trombone Shorty returns as the newest New Orleans native superstar to close out the festival, which looks like it will be a great ride this year. Let’s just hope the weather co-operates. There’s nothing worse than walking around in ankle deep mud as hot rain falls on you. Especially because we all know that isn’t mud. Not on a horse track.

Purchase your tickets here and visit the official website.