James Rivers showcased his many talents at all 50 Jazz Fests

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NEW ORLEANS— It generally takes a lifetime for most horn men to master a single instrument, but the great James Rivers is not like most men.

James started playing back at Craig Elementary school with some of the biggest names to come out of our music scene like Smokey Johnson and James “Sugarboy” Crawford, and he played the first Jazz Fest with Deacon John, but he really didn’t expect much.

Rivers said, “I just thought it was gonna be another gig at the time. This is a thing that was passing thru for that year but man 50 years later, here we are, ya know?”

Over those 50 years James has rocked the Jazz Fest stages with some memorable performances.

Quint Davis of Festival Productions told us, “James is a great gentleman. You know he still does the thing with the flute, where he talks in the flute, but has a harmonica taped on the flute. And he’ll go into like Jimmy Reed and then Yusef Lateef.”

A dynamic performance is always in store at a James Rivers show but like most New Orleans musicians, the fest gets him excited to show his stuff.

Rivers said, “Well I do because you have people coming from all over the world, and my thing is to try to, when I come on stage, try to make them happy. That’s why I do a variety of music so I try to please everybody

You can see James Rivers every Tuesday night at the Jazz Playhouse inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel.

Giants of the Fest is made possible with the help of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Archive and sponsored by Rouses Markets.


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