The Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival, one of several free parties thrown each year under the auspices of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, returns to Lafayette Square Park this weekend, Oct. 13-15.

Now in its 12th year, the fest’s roster has ranged from acoustic guitar pickers like the late David “Honeyboy” Edwards, who was one of the last links to the iconic Delta bluesman Robert Johnson, to saucy, bombastic soul survivors like Mel Waiters, an exemplar of the electric, horn-heavy soul blues subgenre.

Among this year’s headliners is Bobby Rush, the Louisiana-born entertainer who took home his first Grammy earlier this year, at age 83, for the Rounder Records release “Porcupine Meat.”

It wasn’t a comeback: Rush, who closes out the big stage on Sunday night, basically hasn’t stopped working since his teens, when he’d sport a fake moustache to convince club owners that he was old enough to be there. According to his label, when he started recording “Porcupine Meat” with veteran producer and New Orleans resident Scott Billington, he was playing 200 dates a year around the U.S. and in far-flung destinations like China where, in 2007, he earned the unexpected distinction of being the first American blues artist to play a concert at the Great Wall.

That year, Rush broke from personal tradition to record the album “Raw,” a spare and stripped-down collection of traditional blues (complete with a cover image of Rush in country-style overalls sans shirt, holding an acoustic guitar and gazing seriously into the camera) but since then, he’s returned to vintage chitlin circuit showmanship and dazzle: big, sassy, brassy electric material, sharp suits and a bawdy sense of humor that often employs his curvaceous backup dancers as partners in PG-13-rated onstage comedy.

Sharing the top of the bill is guitarist Robert Cray, performing Saturday evening. The multiple-Grammy-winning blues guitarist, who’s performed with John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt and the Rolling Stones, among others, released his most recent album in April — a collaboration with the legendary Hi Rhythm Section, the house band on hits from Ann Peebles, Al Green and other '60s and '70s Southern soul greats.

The Como Mamas, appropriately, play the fest on Sunday. The two sisters and their cousin have been singing gospel at the Mount Moriah C.M.E. Church in Como, Mississippi, since childhood, when a highlight of their week was listening to Elvis on a pop radio station broadcasting from nearby Memphis.

Their latest album, "Move Upstairs," came out in May on the soul-revival Daptone Records label (home to the late Sharon Jones).

Plenty of local talent is on the roster as well, including Walter “Wolfman” Washington, John Mooney, Little Freddie King and many more. (Visit for a full schedule of performances.)

The festival kicks off Friday evening at cocktail hour: Luther Kent and Trick Bag play at 5:30, followed by Deacon John. On Saturday and Sunday, music rolls on two stages from 11 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Twenty-two local and regional artists and artisans will showcase their wares at the onsite crafts market.

Those interested in a more luxe experience have the option of paying $250 for a two-day VIP pass that includes reserved seating and viewing areas, an indoor hospitality suite with open bar and bathrooms, air conditioning, snacks and a balcony with a view of the grounds.




7 - 8:30 p.m. Deacon John's Jump Blues

5:30 - 6:45 p.m. Luther Kent & Trick Bag


St. Charles Avenue Stage

7 - 8:30 p.m. Robert Cray

4:30 - 5:45 p.m. John Mooney

2- 3:15 p.m. Samantha Fish

12 - 1 p.m. Guitar Lightning Lee

Camp Street Stage:

5:45 - 7 p.m. Grady Champion

3:15 - 4:30 p.m. A.J. Ghent

1 – 2 p.m. Louis "Gearshifter" Youngblood

11 a.m. - 12 p.m. King Edward


St. Charles Avenue Stage

7 - 8:30 p.m. Bobby Rush

4:30 - 5:45 p.m. Robert Finley

2 - 3:15 p.m. Como Mamas

12 - 1 p.m. Andrew Duhon

Camp Street Stage:

5:45 - 7 p.m. Walter “Wolfman” Washington and the Roadmasters

3:15 - 4:30 p.m. Little Freddie King

1 – 2 p.m. The New Soul Finders

11 a.m. - 12 p.m. The Fortifiers