The 50th annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival gets underway next Friday, April 26, and the golden anniversary lineup is more mind-warpingly eclectic than ever. Dave Matthews Band, Katy Perry, Jimmy Buffett, Chris Stapleton, J Balvin, Pitbull, Santana, Alanis Morissette, Ciara, and The Doobie Brothers are all scheduled to perform, with the usual array of jazz icons and local heroes consuming the rest of the bill. Which obviously means that Big Freedia — the Queen of Bounce, a Jazz Fest staple, and one of the most heroic local artists imaginable — is right there in the middle of the poster.
To both celebrate that fact and prepare you for Jazz Fest (it’s never too late to check for flights), you can find a live version of Big Freedia’s relentless “N.O. Bounce,” recorded in April 2016, at the foot of the page. It’s taken from Smithsonian Folkways’ latest box set, Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a gargantuan, five-disc, 50-year retrospective that’s due out on May 10. Freedia’s track is all energy and groove, with the mellow R&B that lurked beneath the crushing beat of the original pushed further to the front by a live band. Freedia is the ringleader, overpowering every other instrument and ordering the crowd to shift. It rules, and you can listen to it below.