Natchitoches’ downtown riverbank was once again transformed into a packed, standing room only musical powerhouse by the annual Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festival, Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13. This year’s event, in its 26th year of musical excellence, featured 20 bands and singers on three stages playing everything from Zydeco to Jazz, Country, and Rock throughout the day to a delighted crowd.
The Natchitoches Jazz and R&B Festival has grown to become the largest live music festival in Northern Louisiana and a preeminent destination for live music aficionados. This year’s festival boasted the largest attendance in the event’s history to its Friday night opening. Advance Ticket Sales also set a record.
The festival continued its tradition of featuring a wide variety of musical styles as well as encouraging local talent. The 50 Man Machine returned with what may very well be the only bagpipers ever to grace a Natchitoches stage, showing once again that bagpipes make everything better! The locally grown acts of The Nakatosh Rhythm Chiefs and Cane River Soul were just a sampling of the musical entertainment available to festivalgoers.
Houston’s Klockwork band could almost be considered a local band as they feature several members who are NCHS Alumni. The group’s silky-smooth R&B numbers were followed by Natchitoches’ iconic Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs. The long-time local favorite, a fixture of the local music scene and the only band to have played at all 26 Jazzfests, delighted the crowd once again with its eclectic blend of songs.
Things got even busier on the packed dance area in front of the stage as Cupid and his band played their signature standard, The Cupid Shuffle, as well as a selection of Zydeco and dance hits.
The festival then took on a distinctly country flair as Singers Tracy Byrd and Mark Chestnut closed out the evening with superb performances that kept the good times rolling. The musicians at this year’s festival once again gave the audience their money’s worth and then some.