NEW ORLEANS — After rain deluged and muddied the infield at the Fair Grounds Race Course, sparking a partial shutdown last week of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, it returns Thursday through Sunday with acts including Darrius Rucker, Wilco, Earth Wind & Fire, Boney James, Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, Meghan Trainor, Patti LaBelle and the Kings of Leon.
Here's some of what's on tap:
WEATHER: Forecasters predict sunshine for the festival's final weekend. That's welcome news for the tens of thousands of music fans expected to descend on the Fair Grounds, which endured a deluge last week and even more rain Wednesday. So, organizers suggest fans prepare for a muddy Thursday — the start of the festival's second weekend. The National Weather Service says storms were expected to clear the area by 10 a.m. Thursday, but there's a slight chance of showers until 1 p.m. Temperatures in the mid-70s to low-80s were expected through Sunday.
LOUISIANA EATS: Though music is always on the minds of fest-goers, thousands annually show up at the festival just for the food. Vendors are selling succulent Louisiana- flavoured dishes including cochon de lait (slow-cooked, pulled pork) po-boys, shrimp, sausage and okra gumbo, pecan catfish meuniere, fried green tomatoes, alligator sauce piquante, shrimp and grits and boudin (a pork rice dressing stuffed into sausage casings). International-tinged items include shrimp yakisoba (pan fried noodles), yakiniku po-boys (garlic rib-eye), tangine of lamb (lamb stew with basmati rice), merguez (grilled lamb sausage) and tabouli (Mediterranean/Middle Eastern salad) with pita. This year also features foods from Cuba, including tostones with mojo (fried green plantains with garlic sauce), frijoles negros (black beans) with rice; ropa vieja (braised steak) and paleta de cafe con leche (coffee ice pop).
THURSDAY: Known as "locals" day, Thursday at the festival includes a host of Louisiana favourites including Irvin Mayfield, George Porter Jr. & Runnin' Pardners, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, the Free Agents Brass Band, OperaCreole and Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. National acts scheduled to perform include country rocker Darrius Rucker, neo-soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae, Tower of Power and gospel artist Erica Campbell.
FRIDAY: Performances by Sonny Landreth and Anders Osborne lead in to closing acts by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, Wilco, Earth, Wind & Fire, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Boney James and Rhiannon Giddens. In the cultural exchange pavilion, which this year spotlights Cuba, fans can hear music from The Pedrito Martinez Rumba Project, featuring Roman Diaz, Changui Guantanamo and Adonis y Osain del Monte. Additionally, Conga Los Hoyos will parade and take the crowd around the Fair Grounds, much like New Orleans' second-line clubs are known for. They're among more than 150 Cuban artists participating in this year's festival.
SATURDAY: Festival fans upset when rain cancelled Stevie Wonder's performance last year get a second chance to see the musical legend's show. Festival organizers said Wonder agreed to return to the festival this year and he's scheduled Saturday to close the festival's largest stage. Others scheduled to perform include pop singer and songwriter Meghan Trainor, rap artist Snoop Dogg, soul singer Irma Thomas and a number of New Orleans-based brass bands.
SUNDAY: Closing day of the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival marks an end of the day performance by the band that invented New Orleans' funk — The Meters — who also graced this year's Jazz Fest poster. Limited-edition silk screen posters are available in the poster tent at prices ranging from $69 to $895. Also closing down the festival are Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Maze, featuring Frankie Beverly, and Blues Traveler. Other artists scheduled to perform include Kings of Leon, Buddy Guy, Patti LaBelle, Ellis Marsalis, Tab Benoit and Kermit Ruffins, who's doing a tribute to Louis Armstrong.
Chevel Johnson, The Associated Press