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Maroon 5, Usher, Alabama Shakes headline Jazz Fest Day 2

Performances by Maroon 5, the Alabama Shakes, and Usher & The Roots brought crowd-pleasing rock, blues and R&B to the second day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, while jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain earned a special place in the event's history.

Fountain, a festival favorite who died Aug. 6 at the age of 86, was recognized Saturday with the unveiling of a larger-than-life hand-painted portrait in the ancestor area, memorializing those who have helped shape the festival since it began in 1970.

"Welcome back, Pete," said Quint Davis, director and producer of the festival, as the portrait was unveiled.

"There's been Fats Domino. There has been Mahalia Jackson. There has been Louis Armstrong," Davis said. "There have been very few great, great men who have carried the banner of New Orleans around the world through music. And one of those men is Pete Fountain."

Kicking off with "Lily of the Valley," members of the Half Fast Marching Club, which Fountain founded, and the Storyville Stompers Brass Band led a second-line there from the Economy Hall Tent, where Fountain last performed in 2013.

Two other "ancestors" also are being honored this year.

Gospel singer Jo "Cool" Davis, who died Aug. 5, 2016, will be celebrated Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with an a cappella performance by The Zion Harmonizers. Zydeco musician Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural Jr., who died Sept. 24, 2016, will be honored May 6 with a parade at 11:45 a.m. and a performance by Zydeco accordionist Nathan Williams Jr. Times-Picayune reports ( ) the wooden painting of Fountain was draped in gold.

"We want to thank you Quint for honoring Pete as an ancestor. He's here with some great friends," said Benny Harrell, Fountain's son-in-law and longtime manager.

Davis corrected Harrell warmly: "Thank you Benny, but you've really got that backward. It's an honor for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to have been associated with Pete Fountain."

The seven-day festival takes place over two weekends. In addition to the big-name acts, the festival features hundreds of Louisiana jazz, gospel, zydeco and other musical acts.


Information from: The Times-Picayune,

Jazz Fest kicks off with hometown favorites Connick, Neville

Thousands of music fans descended on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Friday to see some hometown favorites who've made their mark nationally.

Pianist, vocalist and New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr. closed out the festival's largest venue while Aaron Neville's distinctive voice shut down the Blues Tent.

Attendee Nancy Davis and her husband, Richard Ashmore — whom she met at Jazz Fest in 1985 — arrived before dawn to celebrate the anniversary of their meeting and her 40th year of "festing," she told The Advocate ( ).

Her first festival in 1977 was memorable, she said, because she managed to see performances by both Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder.

"You just can't beat it," Davis said. She said she attends all seven days of the festival every single year. "I'm hooked."

Laura Valliant, 64, and about 30 other people meet for breakfast at the same restaurant each year before the festival opens.

"Once a year, you just see people that you don't see the rest of the year, and it's like a family reunion," said Valliant, who also goes to the festival every day it's open. "There's the music and the food, but it's really about the people."

But the music is the thing for close friends Sandi Gumpert, 46, and Susan Parker, 61, who have been attending Jazz Fest together for more than a decade.

Gumpert said she was wanted to see Johnny Sansone, one of the first acts scheduled Friday morning. But she probably didn't manage to hear every song because of her personal goal of "1.75 bph" — seeing 1.75 bands per hour.

"I always try to go see new people," she said, while sipping a Bloody Mary.

"The diversity is fabulous," Parker said.

Packed crowds for some of the bigger acts often draw the most complaints from attendees. But there was room for spectators as Connick started his closing act and as Nas began to perform with his guests, the Soul Rebels

The seven-day festival wraps over two weekends, ending May 7. Besides 11 stages of music, the fest this year features a cultural exchange area dedicated to Cuba that will have music, foods and crafts from the country.

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