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Jazz Fest 2016: Thursday, April 28 

click to enlarge Jazz Fest 
fans dance 
at the Sheraton New 
Orleans Fais 
Do-Do Stage.

Photo by Scott Saltzman

Jazz Fest fans dance at the Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage.

Lil Nathan & the Zydeco Big Timers
Sheraton New Orleans Fais Do-Do Stage
Fronted by the son of Nathan Williams Sr., leader of Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Lil Nathan and the Zydeco Big Timers have perfected a neo-zydeco sound, full of synth-heavy instrumentation and vocals shaped by auto-tune. Its sound brings a smooth, soul-singing approach to zydeco, fusing the contemporary with the traditional. Lil Nathan was a high school freshman in Lafayette when he recorded his first CD with the Big Timers, Zydeco Ballin'. A second album soon followed featuring "That L'argent," a song that cemented the band's appeal on the zydeco circuit. In 2008, Lil Nate graduated with a degree in jazz studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He brings this formal training to his performance style, creating detailed stretches of instrumental vamping in hits like 2015's "It Is What It Is," a hard-driving, catchy zydeco dance track.

Lost Bayou Ramblers with Rickie Lee Jones and Spider Stacy
Gentilly Stage

The Lost Bayou Ramblers was formed in the late 1990s by brothers Andre and Louis Michot, who had grown up playing in their family band, Les Freres Michot. Over time, the Michot brothers perfected the punk aesthetic they brought to the performance of traditional Cajun dance music, making a name for themselves as an original act. The band's success was cemented by its 2012 album Mammoth Waltz, which featured guest appearances by actress/singer Scarlett Johansson and Dr. John. The Ramblers' soundtrack work for the Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild led to further opportunities, including tour dates with Canadian band Arcade Fire.

 The Ramblers are joined onstage by Spider Stacy, co-founder of the legendary Irish/British rock band, The Pogues, and Rickie Lee Jones, a genre-crossing vocalist, musician, bohemian poet and songwriter whose career has spanned more than three decades. While working together on David Simon's HBO series, Treme, the Ramblers connected with Stacy, which led to Poguetry in Motion, a series of recordings and live performances that had the band reimagining classics from The Pogues' catalog with Stacy at the helm. Throughout their varied careers, the Ramblers, Stacy and Jones all have worked to expand the concept of a "standard," blurring lines and playing with form. Don't be surprised if Jones delivers a moving performance of the Pogues' classic, "Fairytale of New York."

Gary Clark Jr.
Acura Stage

Best known for his distorted guitar work, unique vocals and hard-edged rock 'n' roll approach to the blues, Texas multi-instrumentalist Gary Clark Jr. is a force. Following the electrifying success of his 2012 breakout album, Blak and Blu, Clark released The Story of Sonny Boy Slim in 2015, which garnered widespread critical praise. With a plugged-in blues sound and his virtuosic guitar playing front and center, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim melds the disparate elements of Clark's performance and songwriting style into a seamless execution. Riding the fence between genres, Clark's sound illustrates the deep influence of the blues in American popular music.

Brandi Carlile
Gentilly Stage

On her Grammy Award-nominated 2015 album The Firewatcher's Daughter (ATO Records), alt-country singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile raises hell (on the middle-fingered "Mainstream Kid") and sheds buckets of tears (on the vulnerable, heart-wrenching ballad "I Belong to You"). Buoyed by sunny '70s California pop and three-part harmonies with her twins (Tim and Phil Hanseroth), minimal album centerpiece "The Eye" walks the line between the chaos and her raw emotion: "I wrapped your love around me like a chain / But I never was afraid that it would die. / You can dance in a hurricane / Only if you're standing in the eye."

The Suffers
Congo Square Stage

A 10-piece, soul-based group with a Latin backbeat and reggae influences, The Suffers defy categorization. Led by Kam Franklin's powerful vocals, The Suffers represent the many influences of their hometown of Houston, offering Southern rap mixed with soul, country, jazz and Latin music to achieve a sound the band has dubbed "Gulf Coast soul." The band progressed from packing Houston venues to touring nationally. An appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in 2015 brought its fame to another level, followed by an NPR Tiny Desk concert and an early 2016 performance on Comedy Central's The Daily Show. The Suffers released a long-awaited self-titled debut album in February.

Corey Harris Band
Blues Tent

This Colorado-born MacArthur Fellowship "genius grant" recipient hasn't shown signs of slowing since the 1995 release of his first album, Between Midnight and Day, a tribute to traditional acoustic blues. The 1997 album Fish Ain't Bitin' followed, which placed Harris on a steady circuit of festival appearances. Building upon a strong traditional blues foundation, Harris, who once sang as a street performer in New Orleans, incorporates strong West African influences as well as reggae and soul into his eclectic songwriting. Having performed, recorded and toured with B.B. King, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Ali Farka Toure, Dave Matthews Band, Wilco and countless others, Harris now is backed by his own full band. With the 2015 album Live! From Turtle Island, the group continues its dedication to country blues.

Buffy Sainte-Marie
Sheraton New Orleans
Fais Do-Do Stage
Throughout the course of her decades-long career, First Nations singer-songwriter and visual artist Buffy Sainte-Marie has remained a dedicated social justice activist and advocate for Native North Americans' rights. Perhaps best known as a staple of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk revival scene whose classic anti-war song "Universal Soldier" was covered by Donovan, Sainte-Marie has steadily built upon her early successes, releasing solid experimental folk music albums from the 1960s to the present. In 2015, Sainte-Marie released the album Power in the Blood (True North), her first studio album since 2008. In its review of Power in the Blood, NPR wrote that newcomers to Sainte-Marie's sound "will be delighted to discover an artist who's more Bjork than Baez, more Kate Bush than Laurel Canyon ... Sainte-Marie is a risk-taker, always chasing new sounds, and a plain talker when it comes to love and politics." An artist deeply immersed in folkways, Sainte-Marie has a long history of experimentation with electronic and psychedelic sounds. Now in her seventies, Buffy Sainte-Marie continues to defy limits of age or repertoire.

Elvis Costello & the Imposters
Gentilly Stage

Legendary Grammy-winning British musician, singer-songwriter and music producer Elvis Costello has long been known for his jazz-infused eclectic sound and style. The grandson of a trumpet player and the son of a jazz musician, Costello first made a name for himself in the British pub rock, punk and new wave scenes of the 1970s. He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. In the last decade, much of Costello's work has been marked by artistic collaborations. In 2006, Costello and Allen Toussaint teamed up for the post-Hurricane Katrina album The River in Reverse, which featured a collection of classic Toussaint songs from his New Orleans Minit Records days along with new pieces they wrote together. Costello's 2013 album Wise Up Ghost, a joint venture between Costello and The Roots, took his sound to new audiences. Costello released his autobiography Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink in late 2015, with an accompanying soundtrack featuring old hits, rare recordings and several previously unreleased tracks, including "April 5th," written and recorded with Rosanne Cash and Kris Kristofferson.

Flo Rida
Congo Square Stage

Grammy-nominated Florida-born hip-hop artist Flo Rida knows how to rock a crowd. His catchy, singsong delivery and dance-friendly song structures blend pop and rap. Flo Rida quickly found a national fan base with his 2008 breakout single "Low," featuring T-Pain, which broke the record for digital download sales when it was released. He followed with the hits "Right Round," "Good Feeling" and "Whistle," which all became music club staples. In 2015, Flo Rida released the EP My House, featuring a hit title track that quickly reached No. 1 on Billboard's Pop Songs radio airplay chart. With the success of "My House," Flo Rida is tied for the most Pop Song No. 1s among artists who primarily are rappers, matching Nelly's five.

Pine Leaf Boys
Sheraton New Orleans
Fais Do-Do Stage
Led by vocalist/accordion player Wilson Savoy (the son of Cajun performer-scholars Marc and Ann Savoy), the Pine Leaf Boys are dedicated to keeping Cajun music alive while remaining true to a modern sound and performances full of rock 'n' roll energy. Following the departure of Cedric Watson, the band features Savoy, Courtney Granger, Jon Bertrand, Drew Simon and Thomas David. The 2007 album, Blues de Musicien, was nominated for the Best Zydeco or Cajun Album Grammy, and Grammy nominations followed the group's next three records. The band released Danser in 2013.

• Thursday, April 28
Friday, April 29
Saturday, April 30
Sunday, May 1

Nesby Phips
Jon Batiste

Other festivals during Jazz Fest





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