NEW ORLEANS >> Performances by Maroon 5, the Alabama Shakes and Usher & The Roots brought crowd-pleasing rock, blues and R&B to the second day of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, while jazz clarinetist Pete Fountain earned a special place in the event’s history.
Fountain, a festival favorite who died Aug. 6 at the age of 86, was recognized Saturday with the unveiling of a larger-than-life hand-painted portrait in the ancestor area, memorializing those who have helped shape the festival since it began in 1970.
“Welcome back, Pete,” said Quint Davis, director and producer of the festival, as the portrait was unveiled.
“There’s been Fats Domino. There has been Mahalia Jackson. There has been Louis Armstrong,” Davis said. “There have been very few great, great men who have carried the banner of New Orleans around the world through music. And one of those men is Pete Fountain.”
Kicking off with “Lily of the Valley,” members of the Half Fast Marching Club, which Fountain founded, and the Storyville Stompers Brass Band led a second-line there from the Economy Hall Tent, where Fountain last performed in 2013.
Two other “ancestors” also are being honored this year.
Gospel singer Jo “Cool” Davis, who died Aug. 5, 2016, will be celebrated Sunday at 1:30 p.m. with an a cappella performance by The Zion Harmonizers. Zydeco musician Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr., who died Sept. 24, 2016, will be honored May 6 with a parade at 11:45 a.m. and a performance by Zydeco accordionist Nathan Williams Jr.
NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune reports (http://bit.ly/2phR3Gl ) the wooden painting of Fountain was draped in gold.
“We want to thank you Quint for honoring Pete as an ancestor. He’s here with some great friends,” said Benny Harrell, Fountain’s son-in-law and longtime manager.
Davis corrected Harrell warmly: “Thank you Benny, but you’ve really got that backward. It’s an honor for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to have been associated with Pete Fountain.”
The seven-day festival takes place over two weekends. In addition to the big-name acts, the festival features hundreds of Louisiana jazz, gospel, zydeco and other musical acts.