2018 Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival

Oct 12–14, 2018
Friday, Oct. 12: 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 13, and Sunday, Oct. 14: 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Lafayette Square Park
540 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
Admission: Free

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Guitar legend Jimmie Vaughan, fast-rising star Samantha Fish, world-famous blues belter Shemekia Copeland, New Orleans’ beloved soul man Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Memphis R&B icon Don Bryant are just a few of the great artists who will perform at the 13th annual Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Oct. 12-14 in Lafayette Square Park. Admission is free.

"I've been to many blues festivals in the U.S. and Europe, and I can honestly say that the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival is a charming piece of musical heaven. If you are planning a trip to New Orleans and want to experience the city and its wonderful music without enormous crowds, put this October, free festival on your musical bucket list."
- Art Tipaldi, Editor, Blues Revue Magazine

All the details are below. But if you want to keep up with the latest news - like tons of video, audio, photos and other tidbits of info to give you the inside scoop on the festival and all of our performers - tune in to our Facebook page here.

The Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival is an award-winning event, with two stages of music, a dozen of the best barbecue vendors in the region and a huge arts market. The 13th edition of this community celebration of Southern soul is bound to be one for the record books.

Admission is free! This is, after all, an event produced and presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation – the nonprofit that owns Jazz Fest and uses the proceeds from that world-famous festival for free, year-round programs in education, economic development and cultural enrichment.



We couldn’t be more proud to welcome the legendary Jimmie Vaughan for his first appearance at Blues & BBQ.

“He's unbeatable when it comes to the blues. He just plays it like it's supposed to be played.”
- Buddy Guy

World-renowned as one of the most tasteful Texas guitar slingers, Vaughan was at the forefront of the blues even before he founded the hit-making Fabulous Thunderbirds in Austin in 1974. He has continued to be a mainstay of the scene to the present day. The week before his appearance at the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, he’ll be at Madison Square Garden in New York for a two-night stand with Eric Clapton and Gary Clark, Jr.

We’re also very excited to welcome back the exciting singer Shemekia Copeland, who last graced our stage in 2013. The daughter of the late Texas guitarist Johnny Copeland, Shemekia was born in Harlem, toured with her dad for many years and released her aptly titled debut album, “Turn the Heat Up,” in 1998. She continues to heat up stages and blues charts around the world. In 2016 she was named Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year at Blues Music Awards.

That same honor went this year to Samantha Fish, whose blazing set at Blues & BBQ last year is the stuff of legend. She has been on a whirlwind tour ever since, racking up accolades and top spots on the album charts. So it’s no surprise that the Kansas City native (and now Crescent City resident) is returning as a headliner.

New Orleans’ beloved soul man Walter “Wolfman” Washington is not exactly a stranger to the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival. He headlined our very first edition in 2006, and he’s been a featured act at every one since. But this year is particularly special since it coincides with the release of his new album, “My Future Is My Past” (Anti-), produced by Ben Ellman of the band Galactic. It’s a gorgeous collection of stripped-down performances, with cameos by Jon Cleary, Ivan Neville and Stanton Moore.

Memphis soul legend Don Bryant is better known as a songwriter - he penned “I Can’t Stand the Rain” with his wife of 44 years, the singer Ann Peebles. After focusing on gospel albums 1980s and 1990s, he stopped performing altogether outside of church services - until producer Scott Bomar talked him out of retirement in 2016. At Blues & BBQ, he’ll perform with another under-appreciated Memphis soul man, Percy Wiggins, and the Memphis-based horn band the Bo-Keys. 

Speaking of under-appreciated, be sure not to miss the Dallas guitar Carmen "Cookie" McGee. She grew up next door to Freddie King - one of the “Three Kings” of blues guitar, along with B.B. and Albert - and started gigging around Texas in a band with King’s kids while in her early teens.

Another new face at the festival will be singer Keeshea Pratt, whose band took home the top prize at this year’s International Blues Challenge.

The 93-year-old Baton Rouge pianist Henry Gray makes a return to Blues & BBQ in a special ensemble that features zydeco star Terrance Simien and stalwart R&B guitarist Paul “Lil Buck” Sinegal.

The musical lineup is rounded out by artists who may be familiar to our audience - like New Orleans mainstays Little Freddie King, Papa Mali, John “Papa” Gros, Washboard Chaz and guitarist Mem Shannon, plus North Mississippi hill country blues artists Kenny Brown and Rev. John Wilkins. We also have a few new discoveries, like the band Uncle Nephew (which features the jazz drummer Shannon Powell) and the close-harmony singing group The Wanting.


5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.        Little Freddie King
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.        Samantha Fish

St. Charles Avenue Stage:
12:00 p.m. to 1 p.m.          Washboard Chaz Blues Trio
2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.       John “Papa” Gros
4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.       Shemekia Copeland
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.       Jimmie Vaughan

Camp Street Stage:
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.    Ed Wills & Blues 4 Sale
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.       Mem Shannon & the Membership
3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.       Rev. John Wilkins
5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.       Walter "Wolfman" Washington

St. Charles Avenue Stage:
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.     Uncle Nef
2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.       Papa Mali
4:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.       Henry Gray with Terrance Simien & Li'l Buck Sinegal
7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.       Don Bryant and Percy Wiggins with the Bo-Keys

Camp Street Stage:
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  The Wanting
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.      Kenny Brown
3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.      Keeshea Pratt Band
5:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.      Cookie McGee

Arts Market
As always, we will host a huge arts market, with 22 of our best local and regional makers of hand-crafted artworks and home furnishings. We have carefully curated our group of arts market vendors to showcase the finest quality. For the complete list of Arts Market vendors, see here.

Food Vendors
Once again, we're going overboard with a huge spread of great barbecue, representing several regional styles - with a fresh emphasis on Louisiana, since New Orleans has seen a surge in barbecue restaurants (ahem) in the time since we started this festival! And yes, it's a barbecue festival - but we will have some options for vegetarians, vegans and those who eat gluten-free. For the complete list of food vendors and their menu items, see here.

VIP Experience Passes - SOLD OUT
To help recoup some of our costs, we put on sale a very limited number of special VIP Experience backstage passes. These provide access to special viewing and seating areas at both stages, two complimentary bars and a deluxe indoor hospitality suite with a balcony view of Lafayette Square, air conditioning, catering and real bathrooms. The VIP Experience passes cost $250 each (plus a service charge of $13.49), and are good for the entire weekend. We do not sell single-day passes. The passes are not transferrable (from one person to another) and all sales are final (no refunds). VIP Experience passes for 2018 are SOLD OUT. To see what you missed, click here.

On the Radio - Live via WWOZ
Our beloved community radio station WWOZ New Orleans 90.7 FM will broadcast most of the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival live from Lafayette Square – over the air and in streaming video at www.wwoz.org.

Silent Auction for Samantha Fish Guitar
As we have done for many years, we will have a silent auction to benefit the Heritage School of Music, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s free education program. This year’s auction item is a brand new Epiphone SG guitar, donated by Florida-based Painted Axe. It’s decorated with a custom image of Samantha Fish, based on a photo from her performance at the 2017 Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival. She will autograph the guitar onstage on Friday, when she returns to the festival as a headline performer. The guitar will be on display in the Official Merchandise tent all weekend, which is where people can sign up to bid. The bidding will close on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. CST sharp, and the winning bidder will be notified via text message. The minimum opening bid is $1,200.

T-Shirt Design Contest
Once again, we hosted an online contest to design the official t-shirt of the 2018 Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival. This year's winner is Federico G. Cabug-os, a 46-year-old graphic designer and artist from Manila, Philippines. He draws all of his designs by hand before converting them to digital formats. The Blues & BBQ t-shirt is only available at the festival - not online - and we always sell out, so get yours early.

CDs, T-Shirts and Autographs
As always, the Louisiana Music Factory will host our merchandise operation. Most of our performers will visit the tent to sign autographs immediately after their performances. We’ll have an official Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival t-shirt available for sale as well.

Official Poster
This is going to be a very big year for one of our favorite New Orleans artists, Walter “Wolfman” Washington. We want to honor him, but we’ve already had him as the subject for our official Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival poster. So instead of creating a new poster this year, we are issuing a very limited edition special reprint of the 2015 poster featuring Walter. It will be available at the festival, or you can order online here. All sales proceeds benefit our free education program, the Heritage School of Music.

Keep the Festival Safe and Free: No Outside Food, Beverages or Pets
Like all of our events, the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival is completely free and open to the public - part of the community investment made by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. PLEASE: Except for those with small children or dietary restrictions, please do not bring outside food or beverages to the event - no coolers are permitted.

We realize that Lafayette Square is usually open to pets. But for the safety and comfort of our large audience, we ask that you respect your neighbors and leave your companion animals at home (except for service animals, of course). Thank you.

Please note that we will post donation boxes at all of the entrances to the park - your donations are most welcome and help us to offset our (very significant) costs in producing this event. If you would like to support the Foundation and help keep this event free, please make the tax-deductible contribution of your choice here.

No Smoking
The City of New Orleans has a prohibition on smoking - which doesn't cover outdoor spaces in most of the city, but it does cover Lafayette Square. So, please, no smoking of cigarettes, cigars or pipes, and no vaping. Thank you.

Public Transit
Lafayette Square is conveniently located along the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line (map) and the Magazine Street (No. 11) bus route (map).

Free Bicycle Parking
In collaboration with our friends at Bike Easy, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting bicycle ridership, we’re offering free valet bicycle parking. Please ride your bike to the event, knowing that it’ll be safe and secure – and you won’t have to hassle with locking it to a telephone pole or worrying about somebody stealing your tires or seat.

There is parking in the Poydras Center (650 Poydras Street) for a flat $10 fee, and there are many other street-level parking lots in the area.

No-Chairs Perimeter
Due to the heavy use of camp chairs by many fans in close proximity to our stages, we are forced to institute a "no chairs" perimeter of 75 feet from both stages. We appreciate that many of you like to bring chairs to the festival and set up camp in front of the stages. But this prevents many of our other guests from having the opportunity to get a closer look at the onstage action. We thank you in advance for your understanding.

ADA Access
We provide reserved areas at both stages for our guests who use wheelchairs. And - new this year - we have a special deck with views of both stages reserved for our guests in wheelchairs. There is an ADA drop-off area on Camp Street where vehicles carrying passengers with special needs may unload. All of our food booths will have serving counters at a height of 32-inches. We also provide ADA compliant toilets in all three of our locations for Port-O-Lets (at the corners of Camp and North Maestri streets, Camp Street and South Maestri streets, and St. Charles at South Maestri). The ADA toilets are kept locked for cleanliness; to access them, please visit our Foundation Information booth and we'll provide you with the key or combination, or ask any of the greeters who are seated at the donation boxes at six entry points around the park.

Brought to You By
The Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival is a presentation of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. Our broadcast partner is WWOZ New Orleans 90.7 FM.

We gratefully acknowledge these festival co-sponsors:

Abita Brewing Co.
Cathead Vodka
Louisiana Lottery
ArtWorks – The National Endowment for the Arts
New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp.
Louisiana Division of the Arts
Arts Council of New Orleans
Acadian Ambulance Service

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation is the nonprofit organization that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. The Foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other funds, for year-round programs in the areas of education, economic development and cultural events. For more about the Foundation and what we do, visit us online at www.jazzandheritage.org.


Click the links below to download documents.



Blues & BBQ Festival Archive:

2020's Line-up and Festival Details
2019's Line-up and Festival Details
2018's Line-up and Festival Details
2017's Line-up and Festival Details
2016's Line-up and Festival Details
2015's Line-up and Festival Details
2014's Line-up and Festival Details
2013's Line-up and Festival Details
2012's Line-up and Festival Details
2011's Line-up and Festival Details
2010's Line-up and Festival Details
2009's Line-up and Festival Details
2008's Line-up and Festival Details
2007's Line-up and Festival Details

Check out what else we do.

2018 Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.