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Off the Beaten Path - A Guide to What's Happening During Jazz Fest

Tod Smith By

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I’d like to begin this column with the following disclaimer: the events represented here are only a sampling of what is going on in New Orleans during the two weeks of the Jazz & Heritage Festival. Trying to cover everything would require a body of work roughly the size of a Stephen King novel. But the point is this – you can find a countless number of things to do related to jazz outside of the friendly confines of the festival grounds. So, if your travels allow some free time, following are few things to do while visiting the Crescent City during its annual ode to spring, the Jazz & Heritage Festival.

Skip Bolen and Steven Forster
Photographs of Jazz Musicians in New Orleans
John Stinson Fine Arts Gallery
900 South Peters Street
April 24th thru May 31st

First, take the road less traveled and explore the photography of Skip Bolen and Stephen Foster. If jazz is an improvisational music, the work of Bolen and Forster serve to capture and preserve the moment of this creativity. Bolen, a native of the New Orleans area now living in Los Angeles, will display his black and white photographs of some performers of Festivals past, including Dave Brubeck on piano, vocalist Cassandra Wilson and trumpeter Nicholas Payton.

Foster, also a native of New Orleans, records jazz history in color. In addition to the work to be displayed during this exhibit, he has published thousands of photographs worldwide for, among others, the A&E Network, the Associated Press, and Elle Magazine. With a body of award-winning work in both private and public collections, including the famed Historic New Orleans Collection, Steven Foster definitely tells a story with his lens.

Take it from me, this is something see while you’re here. Visit and for more information.

The Water’s Edge
4427 Pontchatrain Drive
Slidell LA

A little off the beaten path sits one of the newest sets in the New Orleans music scene, The Water’s Edge. Started by AAJ's very own Glenn Astarita and his better-half Pattie, this unique club and grill stands on a bayou overlooking Slidell’s wetlands and serves the people of this northern New Orleans suburb a taste of the music and food that give this area its soul. Plus, it’s a chance to explore some of the area’s more scenic beauty, while listening to some good music. April 24th brings the funk-based, R&B sounds of Walter “Wolfman” Washington, a long-time local favorite.

Jimmy’s Music Club
(featuring Casa de Funk Productions)
8200 Willow Street
New Orleans, LA

If I had only one word to describe what will be happening at this New Orleans mainstay during the Fest that word would be “diverse.” Few venues can boast the wide range of musical genres represented at Jimmy’s, but you can bet that all of it will be good. Partners Ethan Oringel and Sam Wilcher came to New Orleans for a visit and decided to come back and make it home – a stroke of good fortune for local music fans.

Featuring a diverse lineup that covers the bases of local New Orleans music, - spacejazz, funk, boogaloo, soul, new groove, electric jazz, improvised jams and projects, and even DJ parties with the cutting edge of hiphop/triphop - Jimmy’s schedule is not bad for a two-week stretch at one of New Orleans' favorite hot old joints. Just a few of the sets worth catching – Michael Ray & the Cosmic Krewe on Thursday, April 24th; Fred Wesley All Stars on Sunday, April 27th; the King Curtis Tribute on Wednesday, April 30th; and the new experimental, electric sounds of Nicholas Payton’s Sonic Trance on Saturday, May 3rd. Check out for more information or for tickets.

“Party for Patti” in Memory of Patti Samuels
Howlin’ Wolf
828 South Peters Street

Scheduled performers include Los Hombres Calientes, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen and Henry Butler on April 24th.

MO’ Fest
presented by the City of New Orleans
Woldenberg Park on the River
Free Admission
April 28th-29th, 2-8pm

Six New Orleans bands appear daily including Big Sam’s Funky Nation on April 29th and an All-Star Traditional Jazz Clarinet Showdown on the same day. For more information, see .

As always, the Jazz & Heritage Festival offers evening concerts that offer an opportunity to hear some of the acts performing at the Fairgrounds in a more intimate setting. Check the festival site at for details.

There’s a lot of music around town, so don’t be bashful. The Jazz Fest is about culture and expanding your horizons, so take part and enjoy! Until next time, see you ‘Round About New Orleans.

Photo Credit
Skip Bolen


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