NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is entering its second weekend. The seven-day festival, taking place over two weekends, draws thousands of people to the city in a celebration of Louisiana music, food and culture. A look at the festival’s fifth day:
— HEADLINERS: The big name acts Friday included Paul Simon on the Acura Stage, the rock band My Morning Jacket on the Gentilly Stage and singer-songwriter Ms. Lauryn Hill who closed out the Congo Square Stage. Hill, wearing a red jacket and a stylish black fascinator, played the guitar as she sang to a packed crowd. Over at the Gentilly Stage, My Morning Jacket paid homage to Prince with a rousing version of “Purple Rain” with Carl Broemel on guitar. They then transitioned seamlessly into their song “One Big Holiday” as the crowd rocked out to the music. A sousaphone player on stage with the band had written the words “Preservation Hall New Orleans” on his instrument, paying homage to the city’s jazz traditions.
— BRING BOOTS, BUT NOT UMBRELLAS: After concert-goers on Thursday had to deal with some heavy downpours, the weather Friday was sunny but windy. But the concert takes place in the infield of a racehorse track which turns into a soggy mess after storms. Experienced concertgoers wore tall rubber boots with their shorts or the white shrimp boots popular in the New Orleans area. Those less prepared went for a cheaper option — plastic bags wrapped around their shoes.
__ REMEMBERING THE LEGENDS: One of the themes hanging over this year’s Jazz Fest has been remembering the musical legends that passed away recently. Many artists have performed songs in tribute to Prince, who died days before the festival. On Friday, artists who knew legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint gathered to talk about him on one of the festival’s stages. Toussaint passed away last fall. Before that, the singer, songwriter and musician was a regular performer at the festival — often playing in elaborate suits coupled with sandals. “It would take him an hour to get anywhere,” at Jazz Fest said journalist Ben Sandmel, who moderated the talk. Toussaint, known for being extremely gracious, would always stop to sign autographs or take photos with fans.
__ FLY YOUR FLAG: In front of the main festival stages is usually a sea of humanity as well as a sea of flags. Many festivalgoers bring flags that they plant near their chairs and blankets. There’s flags with college emblems, an American flag in the black and gold colors of the New Orleans Saints, the zip code of one New Orleans neighborhood and many others. Don Delguidice from Chicago estimated that he’s been to the festival at least 12 times but this is the first time he and his friends have brought a flag, which was flying high above the area where they’d circled their chairs in front of the Acura Stage. On the flag was the face of their good friend who wasn’t at the festival but who Delguidice described as the “glue” of their tight-knit group. “He’s here in spirit,” said Delguidice. Delguidice said the flag also helps him and his friends easily find their seats among the mass of humanity on the field.
__ THE PARTY DOESN’T END WHEN THE FESTIVAL DOES: The neighborhood outside the racetrack where the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is held every year can turn into a festival all by itself. Reese Salassi Friday was cooking up jambalaya and crawfish at a friend’s house in the Bayou St. John neighborhood that borders one side of the racetrack as throngs of people walked past. He said normally the neighborhood is fairly quiet. But during the festival it becomes something of a block party as bands pop up on the street corners to play to the crowds as they leave and residents gather on their stoops to watch the scene unfold. “When Jazz Fest shuts down these streets jam up,” said Salassi.
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