Can’t miss: Henry Butler & Jambalaya (8:45 p.m., Belk Stage)
Trust me on this one: Henry Butler is one of New Orleans’ greatest piano players, in direct lineage with Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Mr. Eddie Bo, James Booker, Fats, Tuts, Jelly Roll… like that. He can do the boogie-woogie and the finger-roll, the Storyville stomp and the swampy groove. And like all the greats, he adds a bit of his own spice. I actually shook his hand once. It was like grabbing a pack of hot dogs.
Other acts: Los Tres Reyes (8:45 p.m., Church Street Stage)
A trío romántico 60 years in the making, melding vocal harmonies with flamenco fingerwork.
The Dardanelles (9:45 p.m., Church Street Stage)
Traditional music from Newfoundland played by twentysomethings with a punk sensibility. Sells itself.
Wild card: Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All Stars (7:15 p.m., Belk Stage)
Klezmer music is the original funk, and when you add a serious horn section and fat bassline, it can speed up a hora circle into something lethal. The music is a proven crowd pleaser. The only wild card is if the folk fest audience can keep up with the beat.
Suggested itinerary: I’d suggest catching the opening parade through downtown and then parking it at the Belk Stage for the night, moving closer to the stage as opportunity and crowd shifts allow. There you’ll catch the opening remarks at 7 p.m., the klezmer act and a storyteller set by Sheila Kay Adams before Henry Butler brings the magic. Stick around for some Afro-Cuban action by the Pedro Martinez Group at the late set if you’re of a mind. By then you’ll be in the front row.
— Brian Clarey