Top Ten Refined U.S. Music Festivals

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Louisiana
Jazzfest musicians, New Orleans
Local favorites Rockin' Dopsie (left) and Amanda Shaw (right) perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Zack Smith)

1. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Louisiana
Even Katrina could not dampen this unique festival. Held over two long weekends in late April and early May, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell, better known as Jazzfest, is jazz and every other kind of harmonic sound (except traditional classical music) presented on a series of stages and tents at the city's Fair Grounds race track.

The celebration lures music lovers of every age and taste by bringing in the biggest names in pop, rock, country, and soul. It's an exuberant celebration that older adults attend in droves. Several tents and stages are devoted to genres such as gospel, traditional ("Dixieland"), R&B, zydeco, and, yes, jazz. At its core, however, have been homegrown stars—from Mahalia Jackson and the Marsalis clan to Harry Connick Jr., the Neville Brothers, and Fats Domino—who have risen out of the richest musical heritage of any American city.


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