Virtual Jazz Festival (New Orleans, We Miss You!)

A portrait from New Orleans

When you can’t get to to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival! , bring the fest to you!  Crank the tunes, cook up some of the goodies you would eat there, and dance & second line ’till ya drop.

Here we have recipes for the famous Crawfish Monica (our best imitation, anyway), Red Beans & Rice, Pralines and Sazerac, and a playlist favorite New Orleans musicians to get you groovin’.



The Fest

Have you been to New Orleans Jazz & Heritage fest (known by many simply “jazz fest,” or by the regulars as simply “the fest”)? 

New Orleans Jazz Fest 2010 Amanda Shaw, Trombone Shorty,
2010 fest: Amanda Shaw, Trombone Shorty and..

For two weekends (last in April, first in May), the New Orleans parade grounds come to life all day, with multiple stages of music and presentations, all sorts of local food, drink and art vendors. Attendees bounce around multiple stages according to the “cubes” (staggered set times around the grounds) of their choice.

And as usual, the party continues each night in all the usual spots around the city. So go ahead and start this for brunch, and keep it going on into the night.

Crowd Surfing at 2010 Jazz fest New Orleans

I’ve only been twice, but for a few years now, we’ve grown fond of replicating it here at home.

Instead of wallowing in the not being able to make it to the fest, we head over to the Sunny Side of the Street, blast some New Orleans tunes, cook some great Jazz Fest fare, reminisce over past visits to the fest, and watch videos and live streams of the fest (yay for technology!).

If you haven’t gone it’s so worth the trip!  But if you can’t, the below recreation is the next best thing.


New Orleans Favorites

Just as New Orleans funerals start with a dirge and then turn into a celebration of life (second lines!), we turned our sadness into a party to celebrate the New Orleans Jazz Fest awesomeness we could still enjoy from afar. 

The playlist follows this cue, starting with a dirge, moving onto a classic second line song, and then just all-out New Orleans fun. We tried to include at least one song from all of our New Orleans favs that we would have seen at the fest, and/or around the city (even if just in spirit, like Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet).

And finally, we end with what else but “When the Saints go Marching in” and “Lagniappe – Part 1” by Trombone Shorty.  Can’t exactly say why except that Lagniappe felt like the perfect ending, almost like a bonus track.  Now that I’ve looked up the word “Lagniappe” I know why: it means “bonus or gift.”  So there ya go!

Bonerama, Jazz Fest 2015

If you’re reading this during a future fest, listen or watch live!  The vehicle seem to keep changing but check out WWOZ or the Jazz Fest site and you should find your way to some live streams.

Big Sam, at Jazz fest 2010 before he bent up his 'bone, Dizzy-style.
Big Sam, at Jazz fest 2010 before he bent up his ‘bone, Dizzy-style.


Sazerac & A Plan

sazerac, pralines, beads and second line umbrella
sazerac, pralines, and mardi gras beads.

Once the playlist is going, step two of getting into that New Orleans state of mind is to make yourself a Sazerac from this classic recipe.  That link provides not only the but the history of the recipe, including some evolution of the official version.  For example, the New Orleans version uses Herbsaint rather than Absinthe.

Or head over here for some other New Orleans classic cocktails to whet your whistle.

As for food, get the red beans and rice going first because they only get better as they sit.  Next up is pralines so they have time to cool and harden. Last, but not least the Crawfish Meghna/Monica which is very quick, and you want to eat it immediately..


Red Beans and Rice



microwave pralines about to get set


Crawfish Meghna

crawfish monica, red beans and rice
Little man on Bourbon Street in 2015, his first year at the fest, but hopefully not his last.


Second Line Umbrellas

Not enough NOLA for ya? Make yourself some second line umbrellas to really help you get in the spirit and take your dancing up a notch.

diy second line umbrellas
second line umbrella craft diy all the necessary bits