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Jazz Fest: Friday, May 3 

Recommendations from Count Basin

click to enlarge Holly Williams is sure to hit The Highway
at Jazz Fest.

Photo by Kristin Barlowe

Holly Williams is sure to hit The Highway at Jazz Fest.

Royal Teeth
Royal Teeth's live shows often end with the firing of confetti cannons, and one might say their music is the aural interpretation of bursts of colorful paper. Like fellow Lafayette indie-pop outfit GIVERS, the band is known for bright Dirty Projectors and Vampire Weekend-esque Afro-pop, driven by playful percussion and guy-girl vocal team Gary Larsen and Nora Patterson. He brings a bounding energy to the band that often manifests itself in singing from atop an amp or jumping into the audience to play a drum; her vocal prowess adds soul to their cover of The Knife's "Heartbeats." Royal Teeth released its debut EP Act Naturally in 2012, and the magical-realist video for lead single "Wild" was featured on MTV's Buzzworthy blog. The group made its television debut on Last Call with Carson Daly — a performance including confetti cannons and in-audience drumming.

• 11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m.
Acura Stage

The Branchettes
The Johnson County, N.C.-based gospel duo consisting of Ethel Eliot and Lena Mae Perry has performed together for more than two decades and makes its Jazz Fest debut this year. The duo, which mostly performs in their hometown, is influenced by traditional African-American spirituals and worship music.

• 12:05 p.m.-12:45 p.m.
Gospel Tent

The Branchettes interview with Joyce Jackson
• 3 p.m.-3:45 p.m.
Allison Miner Music Heritage Stage

Holly Williams
Although she hails from a well-known country music family — daughter of Hank Williams Jr., granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr. — Holly Williams had to find her own voice in that world. Her first two albums, The Ones We Never Knew and Here With Me, were released on major labels and feature a polished, Nashville country sound. But her 2013 album The Highway, released on an independent label, seems a more fitting home for the singer, whose world-worn voice lends itself more to somber, country-tinged adult contemporary songs about heartbreak and boozers. On the album opener "Drinkin'," her voice cracks in places to reveal pain as melancholy fiddles crescendo before she sings "I raised your babies and I kissed your lips/ So why you cheatin' on a woman like this?" Williams also runs a women's boutique in Nashville that counts Gwyneth Paltrow, who provides some backing vocals on The Highway, as a fan.

• 12:15 p.m.-1:05 p.m.
Gentilly Stage

Laura Bell Bundy
Broadway stars' forays into mainstream music don't often make a splash, with many releasing albums of covers or unremarkable originals. Laura Bell Bundy opted instead to go full-throttle with her ambitions by venturing into pop-country that, at times, teeters on camp — but at least it's original. Bundy originated lead roles in the off-Broadway production of Ruthless! The Musical, Broadway productions of Hairspray and most notably a Tony-nominated turn in Legally Blonde: The Musical, in which she played Elle Woods until she was succeeded by the winner of an MTV reality show contest. Her first single "Giddy on Up," a catchy country kiss-off that's heavy on fiddle but has some soul via a lively brass section, peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard country chart. Her latest single is the sappy "That's What Angels Do."

• 2:05 p.m.-3:05 p.m.
Acura Stage

Sasha Masakowski
Sasha Masakowski's band name, Musical Playground, is fitting since the jazz chanteuse's voice is known for its acrobatic and playful qualities, and she and her band toy with bossa nova, Brazilian rhythms and traditional jazz. Masakowski has toured around the world and is a fixture at local jazz clubs, sometimes performing with her father, guitarist Steve Masakowski. She won the Big Easy Music Award for Best Emerging Artist in 2010 and has been nominated for awards several times since. She released Wishes in 2012.

• 2:35 p.m.-3:35 p.m.
Lagniappe Stage

click to enlarge Brushy One-String
  • Brushy One-String

Brushy One-String
As his name implies, Brushy One-String's (real name: Andrew Chin) hallmark is his one-string guitar. But the Jamaican artist, whose father was soul singer Freddie McKay and whose mother was a backup singer for Tina Turner and others, is captivating beyond what could be seen as a gimmick – rounding out the one-string plucking are his gentle percussive taps on the guitar's body and his soul- and jazz-influenced voice. Following an appearance in the documentary Rise Up, Chin became a YouTube star garnering thousands of hits per video. He releases his first studio album Destiny at the end of April, and Galactic's Ben Ellman says the band plans to record a song with Chin.

• 2:55 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Blues Tent

Nicholas Payton XXX with Vicente Archer and Lenny White
Renowned trumpeter Nicholas Payton also is a prolific blogger, taking to his WordPress site to discuss such topics as the problem with Brad Paisley's infamous "Accidental Racist," the Payton-coined "BAM" (Black American Music) movement, and the difference between the "nerds, geeks and freaks." In keeping with his irreverent tone, he released an album called Bitches in 2011 featuring Esperanza Spalding and other guests. He currently serves as a distinguished artist and visiting lecturer at Tulane University. Bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Lenny White join Payton and his trio XXX.

• 4:10 p.m.-5:15 p.m.
Zatarain's/WWOZ Jazz Tent

click to enlarge The eternal Willie Nelson 
turns 80 on April 30.
  • The eternal Willie Nelson turns 80 on April 30.

Maroon 5
Maroon 5 has skyrocketed to ubiquity on the back of frontman Adam Levine — whose career was revived after snagging a spot in a rotating, light-up chair on NBC's The Voice, becoming the bad-boy crush of moms everywhere. He's been seen lending vocals to a Lonely Island goof on a recent Saturday Night Live hosting gig and making a cameo on the series American Horror Story. The rest of the band has certainly benefited from Levine's popularity, with singles "One More Night" and "Payphone" from 2012's Overexposed peaking at No. 1 and 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, respectively. The band's sound has evolved from debut album Songs About Jane's vanilla soul-rock ("Harder to Breathe," "This Love"), to Jamiroquai-esque disco-pop ("Makes Me Wonder," wildly successful "Moves Like Jagger"), to electro-reggae ("One More Night"), picking up three Grammy Awards along the way. "Payphone," a collaboration with rapper Wiz Khalifa that appears on Overexposed, represents the culmination of the increasing influence of Auto-Tune on Levine's voice that, while in the same vein as the forgettable dorm-room rock from Jason Mraz and John Mayer, has some soulful qualities that are showcased on early songs like the breezy "Sunday Morning."

• 5:20 p.m.-7 p.m.
Acura Stage

Murder the Stout
Murder the Stout is based in Houston but plays progressive Celtic rock in the punk-rock spirit of The Pogues and Flogging Molly. Scottish lead singer Hugh Morrison plays the squeezebox and rips through rousing drinking songs with a gritty brogue. The band released a self-titled album in 2005 and in 2012 released a seven-song EP.

• 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
Lagniappe Stage

Willie Nelson & Family
Willie Nelson turns 80 April 30, and earlier this month he released his latest album Let's Face the Music and Dance. Aside from Nelson revisiting "Is the Better Part Over" from 1989's A Horse Called Music, the album consists of country, pop and jazz standards from rockabilly musician Carl Perkins, jazz great Django Reinhardt and composer Irving Berlin, whose song is the title track. It harkens back to 1978's Stardust, another album of standards that worried Columbia executives — who feared the pop album would taint Nelson's "outlaw country" image — but became a surprise hit. Nelson still grabs headlines as an activist and an advocate for marijuana use and environmental causes — he and his family band will roll to town on a bus that runs on BioWillie, the diesel fuel alternative produced by a company Nelson started. Most recently he chimed in on the same-sex marriage debate in Texas Monthly: "I've known straight and gay people all my life. I can't tell the difference ... people are people where I came from," he said. "But I'd never marry a guy I didn't like."

• 5:45 p.m.-7 p.m.
Gentilly Stage

The Cookers
A dream team of jazz veterans, Eddie Henderson, Billy Harper, Craig Handy, David Weiss, George Cables, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart combine forces as The Cookers. The group has more than 250 years of experience combined and its 2010 album Warriors features originals inspired by the mid-'60s post-bop period.

• 5:45 p.m.-7 p.m.
Zatarain's/WWOZ Jazz Tent

click to enlarge John Michael Rouchell performs Saturday, April 27 (12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m., Acura Stage).
  • John Michael Rouchell performs Saturday, April 27 (12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m., Acura Stage).


Performer's Picks

John Michael Rouchell performs Saturday, April 27 (12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m., Acura Stage). What's he looking forward to at the Fair Grounds?

Frank Ocean (5:25 p.m.-6:55 p.m. Sat., May 4, Congo Square Stage) "Channel Orange is the shit. I haven't seen him live."

Roy Ayers (5:40 p.m.-7 p.m. Thu., May 2, Zatarain's/WWOZ Jazz Tent) "I never thought I'd get to see him live. It'll be insane."

Crawfish Monica (Food Area II) "That's a must. I have a weird fiend for that thing. I get that itch. 'Oh, it's that time for butter and crawfish and noodles.'"

Rosemint iced tea (various locations) "For some reason, sitting in the heat and having a huge sugar rush says Jazz Fest to me."

Oyster sack, crawfish sack, crawfish beignet (Food Area I) "Replace the oyster with an extra crawfish sack. You got to haggle, but it's the right move to make."


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