'Have a good time:' Jazz Fest wraps first weekend

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans' premier music festival wrapped up its first weekend this Sunday. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is seven days of rock, R&B, jazz, gospel, food, art and lectures across 12 stages plus food from across southern Louisiana and art by artists from around the area. The festival now takes a break until Thursday when the music picks up again.

— HEADLINERS: The high-profile performances Sunday included the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nick Jonas who closed their respective stages. Rapper J. Cole closed the Congo Square Stage. The Chili Peppers wowed the packed crowd at the Acura Stage with hits like "Higher Ground," ''Snow ((Hey Oh))," and "Under the Bridge" — joined by most of the crowd singing along. For their encore they were joined by some members of the legendary New Orleans funk band, The Meters. Introducing them, bass player Flea said: "We are their students." And then they launched into a rousing version of "Give it Away."

— ONLY ONE RULE: The singer Elle King, wearing a gold dress with her dreadlocked hair tied behind her and her eyes highlighted in gold shadow, looked to the crowd and asked them to raise their hands and repeat after her: "Have a good time, all the time." It could have been the anthem for the weekend. The weather was amazing as tens of thousands of music fans wrapped up the third day of the seven-day festival. King and her band belted out their fan favorite "Ex's and Oh's" to the crowd laying on the grass at the Gentilly Stage. Earlier in the day at the same stage, the sounds of Royal Teeth, a Louisiana indie rock band, flowed over the audience. Dana Pickering had never heard of Royal Teeth but she said that's part of the joy of Jazz Fest: "We just know, you come to Jazz Fest and you are going to hear the cream of the crop."

— DON'T COME ON A DIET: From cochon de lait po-boys to pecan catfish meuniere, food is almost as important at the festival as the music. Thousands of people flocked to stands selling food and drinks distinctive to southern Louisiana. Katrina Kiernan was eating a soft-shelled crab po-boy — the local name for sandwiches. During the weekend she'd already tried the crawfish Monica, the cochon de lait po-boy and the crawfish streudel. "We heard today that it's like 1,000 calories. Who cares?" she said, speaking of the crawfish Monica. "We're trying it all." The food is generally from restaurants or catering companies around the New Orleans area and southern Louisiana.

— A NEW ORLEANS CELLIST: New Orleans musician and singer Leyla McCalla mesmerized the crowd with her songs in French and English. Chatting frequently to the intimate crowd at the Lagniappe Stage, McCalla explained how she moved to New Orleans in 2010 from New York. A classically trained artist, McCalla got her start in the Crescent City by playing on the streets. McCalla first played Jazz Fest in 2012. She alternated between the cello and the banjo Sunday as she sang a list of songs in both English and French, alternating the mournful with upbeat. "I always feel drawn to those songs that have a back story," McCalla told the crowd. She also played the title song to her third album, "A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey," which is scheduled for release in May.


Follow Rebecca Santana on Twitter @ruskygal.

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