Myth Busters

The Jazz Fest is one of the greatest music festivals on the planet.

If you’re reading this, then you probably agree. Or maybe you just enjoy reading my latest diatribe on subjects ranging from the legalization of marijuana and prostitution (I’m for that) to the ineptitude of the city and state’s marketing of our music. (If you like to get a new “dose” every week, subscribe to the free “Weekly Beat” online at OffBeat.com; I’m also going to become more of a blogger when we re-launch our Web site in early summer).

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell is arguably the biggest event in the city, the one that brings more people into the city than any other. According to recent statistics released by the Louis Armstrong Airport, four of the top ten busiest days at the airport were for Jazz Fest (along with sporting events and Mardi Gras, which lagged behind Jazz Fest as a top traffic producer).

Maybe the city should concentrate more on promoting how wonderful an event Jazz Fest is—which doesn’t mean that it needs to promote that festival per se (Jazz Fest is 40 years old, and if you don’t know about it now, well, you’re hopeless). What about all the other musical festivals in New Orleans? There are so many, it’s hard to count.

It seems to me that if you have something that draws leisure travelers to New Orleans, then the city’s tourism marketing people should continue to assist in making sure we have as many of those events as possible, and we should be promoting the hell out of them. I’ve said it a million times, here’s once more: advertise New Orleans as a music mecca, the place where American music was born. We’re not doing it yet. Maybe another 20 years of my public nagging will finally have an effect before I leave this earth.

It was 25 years into the event before Jazz Fest really took off as a major event in the city. Maybe 25 is the token birthday. The French Quarter Festival reached its 25 year anniversary in 2008, and the attendees at that festival are supposedly more than Jazz Fest (in one weekend). Then there’s Voodoo Fest in the fall, and Essence Fest in July. There’s the Creole Tomato Fest, the Cajun-Zydeco Fest, Satchmo SummerFest, Voodoo Fest, the Swamp Fest, the Po-Boy Fest, Bayou Boogaloo, and on and on and on.

The fact is, any time you’re in New Orleans, there’s great music to hear, fantastic food to sample, beautiful art and crafts to purchase, exotic drinks, lush surroundings, beautiful architecture, and friendly people. New Orleans is a one-stop shop for pleasures of the flesh. And don’t we love those pleasures? You know you do!

So why just make a pilgrimage during Jazz Fest? Come any time. Make friends with us locals; we just love talkin’ to you, dawlin’, and showin’ you around our town!

I think the charm of the city is much more than just its carnal (in the best sense of the word), artistic and musical attractions. The people are what make New Orleans so unique and special. There’s more heart and soul here than anywhere in the world. We want to share it with you.

Come see us, anytime