As if fighting on one side of the “War On Christmas” or the other isn’t stressful enough this time of year, The New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Foundation just released the lineup for the 2012 Jazz Fest, setting off an almost inevitable debate about The Current And Future State Of Music™: Local Edition that has become as much of a yearly tradition as the purchase of ridiculous BayouWear leisure shirts adorned with piano keys shaped like fleurs-de-lis (or vice versa). But regardless of whether you see last night’s announcement as a beacon of hope or a harbinger of disaster, we’ve got another pretty solid festival on our hands.
Top tier headliners for the 2012 Jazz and Heritage Festival include Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers, Foo Fighters, John Mayer, 2010 Voodoo alums Florence + the Machine, “Best New Artist” Nominee Bon Iver and – in accordance with their 4+ year long (and counting) love affair with New Orleans – My Morning Jacket. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Iron & Wine, Jill Scott, Herbie Hancock, the heart-stealing Grace Potter and the venerable Levon Helm – owner of 2010’s best performance of the fest and appearing this year with Mavis Staples – are also on the enormous multi-weekend bill.
The formidable local talent rounding out the first weekend includes Empress Hotel, The Revivalists, Dee-1, Sasha Masakowski, GIVERS and Meschiya Lake; while the second weekend features Feufollet, Supagroup, MyNameIsJohnMichael, greatest band in the universe Rotary Downs and Honey Island Swamp Band along with two of the most can’t miss homegrown events of the weekend: If Jazz Fest’s “Bounce Shakedown” is anything like this past Voodoo’s “Azzstravaganza” showcase, New Orleans’ hip-hop aficionados of all stripe and persuasion are in for a spirited encounter with some of the most dynamic personalities making music these days; meanwhile, after their ripper of a set at last month’s Chingdig, Lafayette’s Brass Bed heads into their Jazz Fest debut just about as highly recommended as a young band can be.
Jazz Fest 2012 takes over the Fairgrounds (and the city) April 27 – April 29 and May 3 – May 6. Weekend packages and discounted single day tickets are on sale now.