Once again, WMNF's annual Tropical Heatwave bash offers way more music than any one attendee can see in a single night. Thirty-plus bands spread out across six stages. Not even WMNF program director Randy Wynne says he will be able to catch 'em all. To help you strategize, here are five national acts we consider "must-sees."
1. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue New Orleans native Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews is a rock star with serious jazz chops. A virtuoso trombonist and trumpeter, the 23-year-old bandleader also sings, beatboxes, raps, dances and, as was evidenced at his triumphant 2007 Heatwave debut, stage-dives! Expect him to deliver a fierce hybrid of traditional and contemporary music with a Big Easy bent. Andrews calls his distinctive sound "super funk rock." (9:40 to 11:10 p.m., El Pasaje Plaza)
2. Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express Underground roots rock luminary Chuck Prophet is a WMNF fave and Heatwave regular who never disappoints. Smart and soulful, his music manages to encompass a wide array of styles, appealing to enthusiasts of various genres. He's perhaps best known for the gem Apology, a cut off his ace 2000 album The Hurting Business. (10:05 to 11:35 p.m., Cuban Club Bandshell on the Patio)
3. BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet The world's greatest Cajun band, BeauSoleil has been issuing ebullient, highly danceable, fiddle-laced bayou music since the mid-1970s. The group's outstanding Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival disc won a Grammy for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album. (7:40 to 9:10 p.m., El Pasaje Plaza)
4. Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles In March, Borges released her best album to date, the charming Americana/pop offering The Stars Are Out. The disc features five originals and covers ranging from Smokey Robinson's Being With You to the Lemonheads' Ride with Me. (6:35 to 7:45 p.m., Cuban Club Bandshell on the Patio)
5. David Dondero Indie troubadour Dondero is a San Francisco-based singer/songwriter with a special connection to Ybor City. On his haunting, Florida travelogue South of the South, our famous entertainment district receives an entire verse. "So I jumped my pogo stick, all the way to Ybor City," he sings. "Where they burned up a couple blocks, and to me seemed like a pity." Okay, so it's no the most flattering depiction. But it's a cool shout-out nonetheless. A couple years back at New World Brewery, Dondero also crushed with a terrific cover of Little Feat's country-trucker anthem Willin'. (10:20 to 11:20 p.m., the Orpheum).