Headliners Billy Joel and John Mayer led both traditional musicians and mainstream acts lined up for the first weekend of the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Diverse acts from both within New Orleans and around the globe joined the opening weekend of the ten-day feast celebrating the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana.
In a rare live gig, six-time Grammy Award winner Joel performed a nearly two-hour set of his hits, this one being only his second full-length show in the past three years. The 63-year-old singer/songwriter captivated the throng of thousands that came to watch and hear him with his kick-off song "Movin' Out", followed by a dedication to the people of New Orleans who were hit by hurricane Katrina via the song "Miami 2007 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)".
Joel soon after made another dedication, this time to Boston with "The Downeaster Alexa" before dishing out a string of his hits "We Didn't Start the Fire", "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me", "Only the Good Die Young", and "You May Be Right". For his encore, Joel and his band played "The River of Dreams" and in the end, capped it all off with the song that started it all for Joel, "Piano Man".
Meanwhile, Mayer returned to Jazz Fest after missing out on it last year due to his throat problem. "Sorry we missed you last year. Thank you for coming back and checking us out," the 35-year-old singer told the crowd. Mayer did a cover of the Muddy Waters classic "I Got My Mojo Working" as well as his own versions of the hits "Can't Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith and "Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad" by Grateful Dead.