The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation's Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (www.jazzandheritage.org/blues-fest) typically presents an impressive array of veteran and younger blues musicians on two stages in Lafayette Square (545 St. Charles Ave.). This year, it also features revamped and expanded barbecue offerings.
"We got some feedback asking 'Where's the barbecue?'" says foundation Director of Programs, Marketing and Communications Scott Aiges. "We used to try hard to avoid duplication and we had a lot of grilled and smoked foods from Louisiana. We've reorganized it around regional barbecue styles."
Vendors at this year's festival (Oct. 18-20) offer everything from brisket to ribs and barbecue styles from the Carolinas, Kansas City and Texas, as well as some items from beyond the U.S. There's Carolina-style pulled pork sandwiches from The Joint (701 Mazant St., 504-949-3232; www.alwayssmokin.com) and St. Louis ribs from Rouses (citywide; https://shop.rouses.com), which is sending its mobile smoking rig to the festival. Louisiana foods are still well represented with cochon de lait po-boys from Walker's BBQ (10828 Hayne Blvd., 504-241-8227; www.cochondelaitpoboys.com), which sells the same sandwich at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; smoked hot sausage from Crescent Pie & Sausage Company (4400 Banks St., 504-482-2426; www.crescentpieandsausage.com); and boudin balls from Squeal BBQ (8400 Oak St., 504-302-7370; www.squeal-nola.com). Seafood options include barbecue oyster po-boys from Brocato's Eat Dat (8480 Morrison Road, 504-309-3465) and barbecue shrimp po-boys from T.J. Gourmet (601 Poydras St., 504-473-9273). There also are vegetarian items, such as The Praline Connection's (542 Frenchmen St., 504-943-3934; www.pralineconnection.com) red beans and rice and Cafe Carmo's (527 Julia St., 504-875-4132; www.cafecarmo.com) legumes azi desi, or grilled vegetables with chili-tomato-peanut sauce. Side items range from corn pudding and baked beans to blue cheese slaw. The number of food vendors grew to 14 plus three offering sweets.
The musical lineup includes harmonica master James Cotton and the Iguanas Friday night. Saturday features guitarists Jonny Lang, John Mooney, Sonny Landreth and Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton and blues-belter Shemekia Copeland. On Sunday, there's north Louisiana native and soul and blues singer "Mighty" Sam McClain, soul and blues singer Mel Waiters, former subdude Tommy Malone, Cedric Burnside Project, the Miami-based funk and gospel sacred steel band The Lee Boys and others. Some of the festival will be broadcast on WWOZ FM.
The festival also features an interview stage and an arts and crafts market.
The event is one of several annual Jazz & Heritage Foundation festivals, which are funded by proceeds from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Before Hurricane Katrina, there was a series of neighborhood festivals, but after the floods, they were revamped to focus on musical genres and expanded to include more local and visiting bands, Aiges says. The next festival is the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival (Nov. 8-9) in Louis Armstrong Park.