Sneak Peek at the Best of Jazz Fest 2022

Sneak Peek at the Best of Jazz Fest 2022

Jazz Fest Weekend Two

May 5 – May 8

Second weekend of Jazz Fest is usually when event organizers bring out the heavy hitters. They don’t call it Big Saturday for nothing. Some of the biggest days in Jazz Fest history were the second weekend, including the infamous Dave Matthews/Mystikal day back in 2001 that drew an estimated 160,000 fans.

This year’s Jazz Fest eschews the huge name (aka expensive) acts like Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and of course, the Rolling Stones, opting for a few familiar faces, some aging legends, and a couple of interesting tribute shows. Who can blame Quint Davis & Co. for trying to spend a little less this year, considering it’s anyone’s guess what the numbers will look like come May. You can rest assured that we won’t be seeing 650,000 patrons this year like in 2001. Of course, back then tickets cost about $30 per day so they don’t have to sell quite as many to make back two years of losses.

Here’s a look at this year’s second weekend and our guess where and when each of the headlining bands will be performing. Remember, though, there are hundreds of great local bands to see opening for the national acts. I’d venture to say that many of them will put on better shows than their more well-known contemporaries.

Note: Acura has pulled out of their longstanding sponsorship of the main stage, but we’ll leave it listed as such since that’s what every knows it as.

Stevie Nicks

Jazz Fest Acura Stage

Saturday, May 7 5:20-7:00

Photo courtesy of Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks’ website only lists three shows in 2022, one of which is May 7th at the Fairgrounds. A brief search of recent solo concerts by the 74-year-old superstar leads us to a tour back in 2017 and a movie based on two of the performances during that tour. Nicks did tour back in 2019 with a Lindsey Buckingham-less Fleetwood Mac, which was supposed to include a stop at Jazz Fest replacing an ill Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. When Nicks turned up with her own illness a few days later, she was quickly dropped from the schedule. Maybe to make up for that cancellation, Nicks has appeared on the last three Jazz Fest lineups, including the canceled 2020 and 2021 iterations. Now that she has top billing, it’s anyone’s guess who she’ll be playing with, but fans of the aging superstar just hope a healthy Stevie Nicks takes center stage on the second Saturday of Jazz Fest.

Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band

Jazz Fest Gentilly Stage

Sunday, May 8 2:45-4:30

Jimmy Buffett on the big screen at Jazz Fest 2018

Jimmy Buffett has been a long-time fan of New Orleans and the Jazz & Heritage Festival. He’s been a headliner in several, a guest at others, and he’s even popped up on the stage a few times to join friends. Buffet was also there back in 2006 as the city and its citizens were still clamoring out of the hole left by Katrina. Fans of Buffet, known as Parrot Heads, travel long and far to see the legendary singer/songwriter. Buffet may perform all over the world, but he’s most comfortable close to home in the Gulf Coast. Even though he’s listed as the second headliner of the weekend, expect Jimmy Buffett at the fairgrounds with his repertoire of sing-along songs on the Acura Stage opening for Trombone Shorty who has staked claim to the closing performance of the weekend.

Luke Combs

Jazz Fest Acura Stage

Thursday, May 5 5:15-7:00

Photo courtesy of Luke Combs

The New York Times called Luke Combs “the most promising and influential new country star of the last five years.” There’s no question the 31-year-old country music superstar has a slew of fans, as witnessed by his 2021 sold-out show at the Smoothie King Center. Having country music stars like Combs, Willie Nelson, Melissa Ethridge, and Jason Isbell show just how far the Jazz Fest organizers have strayed from their original roots. But I suspect he will draw a huge crowd to the Acura Stage on Locals Thursday and they’ll get exactly what they came for- throwback country music from a mega-country star.

The Black Crowes

Jazz Fest Acura Stage

Friday, May 6 5:00-7:00

Chris Robinson Brotherhood playing in New Orleans

Not since the Gallagher brothers has there been a more public brotherly feud than the Robinson boys. The brothers honed their chops in Atlanta in the late 80s and became one of the biggest jam bands of the 90s until their much-publicized split in the mid 2010s. Brother Chris has been touring extensively since then with his own band, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, stopping several times in New Orleans for shows at local clubs. With their relationship apparently repaired, the Robinson Brothers have gotten the band back together for a tour titled “Shake Your Moneymaker,” an homage to their 1990 debut album. They don’t list the Jazz Fest show on their website so it’s quite possible they’ll be playing Saturday on the Gentilly Stage, but since they’re listed fourth billing on the second weekend, I expect they’ll be the closing act on the Acura Stage Friday.

Erykah Badu

Jazz Fest Congo Square

Saturday, May 7 5:30-7:00

Erykah Badu at Essence Festival in 2017. Photo courtesy of Erykah Badu

Frankly, I was surprised to see Erykah Badu listed so high on the Jazz Fest schedule, but then I noticed that she was third billing at her 2018 appearance at Essence Festival, just behind Janet Jackson and Mary J. Blige, but ahead of Snoop Dogg and Queen Latifa. I was actually there that night and caught Snoop Dogg’s set and about half of Badu’s performance with Jill Scott. Even though I preferred the Snoop set, there were empty seats around for him. The Superdome filled for the two women headliner’s performance, and they were treated to Badu’s soulful voice with a mix of r&b, hip-hop, and soul. Personally, I could have done without Scott’s screeching. Badu’s Jazz Fest performance is not on her website but I think it’s likely she’ll headline Congo Square one night. I’m guessing it’s Friday since Ludacris is definitely Saturday and Ziggy Marley is definitely Thursday.

Willie Nelson & Family

Jazz Fest Gentilly Stage

Sunday, May 8 5:30-7

Willie Nelson on the cover of his book “Letters to America.” Photo courtesy of Willie Nelson

I’m sad to see this show listed on Willie’s website for Sunday. That means the Radiators will be pushed to a shorter set earlier in the day. Last time Willie Nelson played Jazz Fest, the crowd at the Gentilly Stage was packed and I found him hard to hear from the back of the field. Seeing the 89-year-old country music superstar billed with “family” means that Shotgun Willie may not have to do as much of the heavy lifting to get the sound levels to reach the back of the audience. Either way, how many more chances are you going to get to see this living legend? With his son Lukas also on the bill, I’d expect to see a big family reunion on the stage at some point.

Norah Jones

Jazz Fest Jazz Tent

Sunday, May 8 5:00-7:00

Norah Jones on the cover of her album “I Dream of Christmas.” Photo courtesy of Norah Jones

The Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter and daughter of Indian sitar-legend Ravi Shankar has always had an affinity for New Orleans. She’s been seen strolling up and down Magazine Street on more than one occasion. Jones is a throwback reminiscent of her idol Billie Holliday. While she’s considered a jazz artist, her music crosses genres from pop to folk and even a little country. She’s also the only “jazz” artist headlining at this year’s Jazz & Heritage Festival. This is a one-off performance as Jones hasn’t toured extensively in over three years. She’ll likely be closing out the Gentilly Stage on Locals Thursday opposite Luke Combs, but there is a chance she’ll be on the Acura Stage opening for the red-hot country music star.

Lauren Daigle

Jazz Fest Gentilly Stage

Saturday, May 7 5:00-7:00

Photo courtesy of Lauren Daigle

Daigle, the Christian-music star, has been known of late as much for her politics as her performances. Her appearance at a “Let Us Worship Rally” during covid lockdown had New Orleans’ mayor Latoya Cantrell remove her from her head billing at the New Orleans New Year’s Eve Celebration on the riverfront. The Lake Charles native has also made it known that she’s not a friend of the LBGTQ+ movement. But she does have her fans. Are there enough of them to balance out Stevie Nicks on the Acura Stage? I have no idea, but I do know that I won’t be there to find out.


Jazz Fest Congo Square

Friday, May 6 5:00-7:00

Ludacris back in 2008. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Grammy Award-winning rapper/actor Ludacris hasn’t had a studio album in over seven years. He’s scheduled to tour sporadically in 2022, and may announce an album release and fall tour later in the year. You can always count on at least one big rap artist to take the stage at Congo Square during each weekend. Since his performance isn’t listed on his website, I’m guessing he’ll go up against Stevie Nicks and Lauren Daigle on Big Saturday. You can be certain there won’t be much crossover appeal between his fans and the fans of the ladies’.

Billy Strings

Jazz Fest Acura Stage

Thursday, May 5 3:00-4:40

Billy Strings at the Civic Theater

Billy Strings performed recently at the Civic Theater to a sold-out audience of Gen Zers and jam band fans. I wasn’t the only Jazz Fest regular in the audience that evening witnessing Billy Strings, a remarkably talented singer and multi-instrumentalist. Jazz Fest organizers were in attendance making sure that their investment in the future superstore is worth it. I assure you that it was. Strings and his tight band of guitarists, banjoists, and bassists have created their own genre of music. I guess it can best be described as bluegrass, but it’s so much more than just that. It’s rock ‘n roll blue grass with some of the best pickers around. I almost feel bad for Luke Combs having to take the stage after Strings. This is one show not to be missed (unless of course you have to work Cinco de Mayo).

Elvis Costello & the Imposters

Jazz Fest Gentilly Stage

Friday, May 6 5:15-7:00

Photo courtesy of Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello is one of the most prolific performers of all time. He’s just released his 32nd studio album, “A Boy Named If,” a throwback to his rock ‘n roll classics. He’s crossed over so many genres over the years, performing with everyone from Allen Toussaint and Questlove to George Jones and Dusty Springfield, that it’s hard to know what kind of set you’re going to get. Unlike his contemporary Van Morrison, Elvis can still rock. If he can perform live anything like his new album sounds, this is another show that should be high on your list of must-sees. Since Costello’s tour doesn’t actually begin until June 5th, he could be anywhere on this year’s cubes. I’m guessing he ends up on Friday as the closing act on the Gentilly Stage.

Ziggy Marley: Songs of Bob Marley

Jazz Fest Congo Square

Thursday, May 5 5:15-7:00

Photo courtesy of Ziggy Marley

Yes, Ziggy Marley has his own songs and his own career. But when you are the son of the greatest reggae star of all time, why not play a set of his old man’s songs. Later in the month, Ziggy is performing a similar set with his brother Stephen, who in my opinion actually has more talent than his elder brother. While this may not be as exciting as the first weekend performance of Third World, casual reggae fans will be delighted to hear all the classics from anyone named Marley. He’s a lock for the closing act at the Congo Square Stage on Thursday.

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Jazz Fest Acura Stage

Sunday, May 8 5:00-7:00

Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Throwdown at Champion’s Square back in 2018

This is another lock on the schedule. I don’t even need to see his tour dates to know that Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews will be headlining the closing set of this year’s Jazz Fest on the Acura Stage. Since the retirement of the Neville Brothers, Andrews has assumed the honor, and he has not disappointed the crowds with his fusion of funk, rock, and rap. He’s also good for a couple of cameo appearances from one of his friends like Lenny Kravitz or George Porter. His high energy sets and proficient trombone playing keep the crowd pumped for the final set of the weekend.

The Revivalists

Jazz Fest Acura Stage

Saturday, May 7 3:00-4:30

The Revivalists at one of their epic New Year’s Eve performances

The Revivalists rescheduled their postponed New Year’s Eve show at Mardi Gras world for the Thursday evening of Jazz Fest. Two days later, they’re scheduled to perform at the fairgrounds, but what time and which stage is the question. The Revivalists before Stevie Nicks on the Acura Stage makes a lot of sense. David Shaw & Co. have hit the big time, appearing at festivals worldwide and even opening for the Rolling Stones in St. Louis back in 2021. They’ll be headlining Jazz Fest within the next few years. They probably should be already, but for now, they’ll have to be content with opening for the biggest name on the bill.

Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real

Jazz Fest Gentilly Stage

Sunday, May 8 3:15-4:45

Photo courtesy of Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real

It’s hard to imagine that Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real would be playing at exactly the same time as his father on a different stage, so the only logical place for these guys is the Gentilly Stage opening for Willie Nelson & Family (or vice-versa). With both bands scheduled for May 8th and Jimmy Buffet and Trombone Shorty headlining on the Acura Stage, this is the likeliest landing spot for the country rock band . This means The Radiators will have to move down a time slot and play a shorter set which is a bummer for all those fish heads who’ve been seeing their favorite band closing out the fest all those years.

Melissa Etheridge

Jazz Fest Gentilly Stage

Saturday, May 7 3:00-4:30

Photo courtesy of Melissa Etheridge

Has Jazz Fest merged with the Bayou Country Super Jam? Sure seems that way as the Gentilly Stage has a country star on it just about every day of this year’s fest. Although opening for Daigle is probably a little insulting for the country music superstar (I suppose they could be swapped), there should be plenty of crossover appeal to have them appearing on the same stage. Both artists have hit the mainstream, but their political views are diametrically opposite. Not sure if that conflict presents a problem for the artists or the audience, but someone has to share the stage with Daigle. 

Boz Scaggs

Jazz Fest Blues Tent

Friday, May 6 5:30-7:00

By Carl Lender –, CC BY 2.0,

Boz Scaggs’ website lists May 6th as the date and there’s still an available slot opening for the headliner on the Acura and Gentilly stages, but I’m betting that he ends up in a packed blues tent where he belongs. The 77-year-old guitarist has been performing since the early 60s and has recorded with everyone from Steve Miller to Duane Allman. At one time in the late 70s, he won a Grammy for best r&b album as well as reached #2 on the U.S. Billboards Top 200. Scaggs fans will be out in full force to catch the aging star.

Kool & the Gang

Jazz Fest Congo Square

Sunday, May 8 5:20-7:00

Founding member, bassist Kool Bell. Courtesy of Kool & the Gang

Kool and the Gang has performed at Jazz Fest before, but this will be the first time since the passing of one of its founders, Ronald Kahlis Bell, in 2020. The rest of the band, including Kahlis’s brother Kool Bell, will still take center stage, belting out classics funk hits from the 1970s like “Celebration,” “Jungle Boogie,” and “Ladies’ Night.” This closing set could be Friday or Sunday, swapped out with Erykah Badu, but having them closing down the fairgrounds seems like a fitting end to the weekend. 

Irma Thomas

Jazz Fest Blues Tent

Sunday, May 8 3:00-4:30

Irma Thomas at Jazz Fest back in 2006. Photo courtesy of Sumori, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Who doesn’t love Irma Thomas? She’s the Soul Queen of New Orleans, for god’s sake. The 80-year-old singer still has the vocal chops to perform on one of the main stages at Jazz Fest. With many of her contemporaries gone to greener pastures, it’s left to artists like Irma Thomas, George Porter, Leo Nocintelli, and Walter “Wolfman” Washington to carry the torch for a few more years. Opening for Norah Jones at the Gentilly Stage makes a lot of sense, although it is possible that she’ll perform in the Blues or Jazz Tents. 

Buddy Guy

Jazz Fest Blues Tent

Sunday, May 8 5:30-7:00

Buddy Guy poses for his album cover “The Blues is Alive and Well.” photo courtesy of Buddy Guy

There’s only one performer at Jazz Fest older than Buddy Guy and that is Willie Nelson. The 86-year old Chicago blues guitar legend has been performing since 1953. Guys like Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and Gary Clark Jr. call him an idol. Though he was known for his years in Chicago, Guy was actually born in Lettsworth, Louisiana to sharecropper parents. He earned his stripes in the 1960s as a session musician for guys like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Guy has performed at Jazz Fest many times over the years closing out the Blues Tent back in 2019. He’ll likely do it again this year, although based on his tour schedule, he could be the closer on Saturday as well.

Tribute to Art and Charles Neville with the Funky Meters and Ivan Neville & The Neville Brothers Band featuring Cyril Neville

Jazz Fest Acura Stage

Friday, May 6 2:45-4:15

Art Neville playing with the Funky Meters at Jazz Fest back in 2013.
Photo by robbiesaurus – Flickr: Art Neville/The funky Meters, CC BY-SA 2.0,

It’s a damn shame to see this billing listed so low down on the schedule. Art and Charles Neville were two of the greatest New Orleans musicians of all time. As members of the Neville Brothers and frequent collaborators in The Meters, they brought the funk to the city with timeless classics and inimitable precision. Saxophonist Charles passed away in 2018 and Art followed in 2020 at the age of 81. Though brother Cyril Neville is the only one still performing, this tribute show will include talented keyboardist, Art Neville’s son Ivan, and Meters’ bassist George Porter. This is about as close as we’ll ever get to another Neville Brothers’ reunion unless brother Aaron decides to come out of retirement. Could he tempt us with a surprise appearance at this show? Doubtful, but one can only wish. They could be anywhere on the weekend lineup, but it makes sense for them to have the final big set spot opening for the Black Crowes.

Click here for the 1st Weekend of Jazz Fest lineup

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *