NEW ORLEANS (AP) — At 101 years old, New Orleans jazz trumpeter Lionel Ferbos opened one of 12 stages on the second day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Billy Joel brought the crowds and ended Day 2.
Couples danced and some sang along to old jazz standards such as “Back Home In Indiana” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” on Saturday.
Ferbos is believed to be the oldest actively working musician in the city. He performs regularly at the Palm Court Jazz Club in the French Quarter.
“He epitomizes New Orleans,” said New Orleans resident Medora Monigold, a Jazz Fest veteran and fan of Ferbos. “In a day where the elders are not respected, he reminds us that wisdom and talent can exist at any age.”
Monigold enjoyed a plate of seafood casserole and fried green tomatoes as she tapped her foot to the music.
Maryruth Senechal, of Hartford, Conn., said Ferbos was excellent. She said she catches his shows often at the Palm Court but prefers his performances at Jazz Fest.
“Here, I can dance and second-line. I love the old traditional brass band jazz,” she said.
Senechal and her husband, Jean-Guy, have attended Jazz Fest 14 times and spend most of the festival at the jazz tent, where other acts for the day included trumpeter and singer Wendell Brunious and singer-pianist Tim Laughlin.
Brunious brought couples to their feet as he sang “I Will Never Be the Same” and “Big Chief,” an upbeat number commonly performed at Mardi Gras that had many in the crowd dancing and hoisting umbrellas in the tradition known as second line. He closed his set with the New Orleans favorite “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
On one of the bigger stages, the brass band Bonerama jammed before a crowd of thousands under sunny skies and a gentle breeze that broke through the warm temperatures.
“The sky is smiling upon us,” said Quint Davis, the festival’s producer. “We do it rain or shine, but we reach the spirit and zenith when in the sunshine.”
Davis said Friday’s opening day saw bigger crowds than last year.
That trend seemed to continue Saturday as thousands packed the grass spaces in front of the festival’s largest stage to hear the day’s final performer, Joel, who opened his set with “Movin’ Out.” He told the crowd that New York hurt with New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. “After Hurricane Sandy, we’re taking inspiration from you guys,” he said as the crowd cheered in response.
He also did his classics, “Only the Good Die Young” and “Piano Man.”
On a nearby stage, neo-soul singer Jill Scott dazzled fans, singing several of her hits including “It’s Love,” ”The Way,” ”So In Love,” and “Quick.”
New Orleans native Darnie Williams described herself as Scott’s No. 1 fan.
“She’s just awesome,” she said of Scott in between dancing and singing along with her. “She’s just a true soul sister. She’s real and her music is so soulful, much like Aretha and Gladys Knight.”
Jazz Fest continues through Sunday and then resumes May 2-5. Festival-goers will be treated to traditional jazz, rock ‘n roll, Cajun, gospel, blues, hip-hop, funk and zydeco.
Second-weekend headliners include Hall and Oates, Fleetwood Mac, Little Big Town, Aaron Neville and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews.
Associated Press writer Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans contributed to this report.