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May 4, 2012
New Orleans' anual two-week music festival--happening now--might have "jazz" in the title, but NOLA's Jazz Fest is anything but a one-genre event. At the risk of angering Bonnaroo fans, this might be the festival most representative of America's musical history.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival started in New Orleans in 1970, one year after Woodstock did the same on a much larger scale in New York. It's currently a lot bigger than it was, with the event running for two weeks in over a dozen tents and stages. The festival has also expanded the depth of its roster; this coming weekend's lineup pulls from R&B (Sharon Jones, Allen Toussaint), reggae (Ziggy Marley), rock (My Morning Jacket, the Foo Fighters) and, of course, jazz (Herbie Hancock, Rebirth Brass Band). No matter your musical interests, you'll find more than enough to keep you busy at the festival.
Being that New Orleans is a world-renowned center of food, music, and art, NOLA's Jazz Fest brings up the best in those same areas as well. Jazz Fest has designated areas for crafts both weekends, as well as some of the best food you're likely to try all year. This is less a music festival than it is everything that's so indescribably perfect about New Orleans distilled into two Character Approved weekends.