I think we can officially say that in 2016 we’re beyond music festival critical mass. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While the mainstream festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza approach singularity — sharing extremely similar lineups and leaning heavily into conspicuous, corporate sponsorship — some have relied more on regional, niche, or underrepresented acts, distancing themselves from typical music festival culture and fare. Perhaps one the biggest and best to do this every year is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which consistently books both legacy stalwarts and upcoming acts in the soul, funk, R&B, and of course, jazz genres.
The festival, which takes place from April 22 to May 1, just announced its lineup today, and it is incredible. Let’s take a look:
This is just a limited version of the full lineup (which is insane), but we are all about seeing Bonnie Raitt, The Isley Brothers, The Neville Brothers, Elvis Costello, and Steely Dan at the same festival. In addition to the large-print bands that draw out-of-town crowds, the festival does its best work at the granular level, boasting dozens of smaller local acts and hometown heroes like Christian Scott, Royal Teeth, and countless brass and zydeco outfits.
To prep ourselves for the jazzy excellence, we’ve drummed up a playlist that includes some of the heavy hitters and a lot of the cooler, lesser known acts as well. This mix could have stretched on for days, but we think the following 20 tracks are decidedly bonnaroo:
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