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The 38th Annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is Outstanding Room Only 

As I, Count Basin™, plan my daily listening schedule at the Fair Grounds, I see a full lineup and plenty of challenging feats. The close of the first Friday alone will have the Count rushing to hear Kermit Ruffins, the Paul Barbarin Second Line spectacular, Lucinda Williams, Percy Sledge in the Blues Tent and Van Morrison all in the final hour. As Jazz Fest Director Quint Davis noted a month out, "The hard choices are back." Among the other exciting acts to look forward to this weekend, there's everyone from Dr. John, Pete Fountain, Terence Blanchard and George Porter to Jerry Lee Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, Pharoah Sanders and Norah Jones. There are more local gospel groups and Mardi Gras Indians back as well as exciting visiting bands from Guinea and Benin this year.

Fest Fans can raise a toast to the wealth of great music now that champagne and wine will be available on the grounds. Other improvements include a bigger blues tent and a rearrangement of the gospel, blues and jazz tents to lessen the bleed of noise from one performance area to another. And best of all, Jazz Fest will reserve spaces near the front of the Acura and Gentilly stages for fans to see the acts up close and dance.

The Count is looking forward to another outstanding year at Jazz Fest.

ON THE COVER:

Everyone knows Jerry Lee Lewis, "The Killer," but not everyone is aware that he's a Louisiana native. Born in Ferriday, near Natchez, Miss., Lewis started playing piano and religious music, but as he grew up and started blending rhythm and blues and country music, he became an architect of rock 'n' roll. This year's installment of the prized Jazz Fest poster is Lewisiana: A Portrait of Jerry Lee Lewis. Lafayette artist Francis X. Pavy created this vibrant and ageless image of Lewis at the height of his career. It's Pavy's second Jazz Fest poster. He created the 1997 image of the Neville Brothers.

The name "Count Basin" and the Count Basin character are a registered service mark of Gambit Communications. All rights reserved.

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