December 2008 Letters

My girlfriend and I paid close to $1,000 for Voodoo Fest LOA (VIP) tickets and we feel, along with many other people that we were ripped off. We have purchased LOA tickets for four years in a row, so we are not just someone who feels they wasted their money and want to get it back. We feel that the money we paid was not used to provide the services that we were promised.

The main reason I purchase LOA tickets is for the grandstand. The grandstand was not provided, so everyone had to stand behind the LOA wall and watch the shows. They took away the height of our view and didn’t move the wall any closer, so we watched the shows from the back of the crowd. We eventually went to the other side of the wall and got a better view.

We questioned why no grandstand? Why only one bathroom trailer?—the year before they had three trailers. Why isn’t the water hooked up to the bathroom? Why no free drinks? Where are all the food items listed on the website menu? Why no free massages like last year? Why no free gifts? Most Voodoo employees we talked to were very sympathetic to our complaints, but they couldn’t provide us with any answers. We eventually were handed three free drinks and a food item ticket. We were told we would get the same everyday and we did get three free, very weak drinks a day. The food ticket could be used on one of four items in the LOA Lounge. The same four items everyday, the year before the menu changed everyday. The bathroom was always out of supplies, dirty and you had to wait in line. We never had to wait outside the LOA section. On Saturday when we arrived we received a gift bag, which I hear they ran out of fairly quickly, which contained three AT&T pencils, one AT&T post-it cube, one AT&T coin purse, a Rhapsody card for five free mp3’s and one very thin Voodoo t-shirt. There were supposed to be covered dining tables and there weren’t, not that we used them that much because as good as the Savvy Gourmet food was it was still the same four items everyday.

The reason my girlfriend and I are upset and feel like we were taken for a ride is that there was no special seating. All the other things I mentioned would not have bothered us nearly as much as they did, if they would have had a special seating area, like they promised, or moved us closer to the stage. We paid our money to sit and watch, not stand at the back of the crowd. I honestly believe that Steve Rehage has stolen from me, my girlfriend and everyone else who bought LOA tickets. I feel he should refund all our money, plus ticket charges or he should be thrown in jail.

—David Vanderbrook, Kenner, LA

Regardless of how you voted, because I guess that some of you might as well have voted for the Mac, I want to thank you all because you made America keep the world’s hopes, and mine for that matter, up high.

Life has been pretty tough all over our world for the past 8 years and this election might be what the world needed to inject new faith and strength into our everyday life, and our leaders.

Your Italian friend who loves dearly the U.S.A.

—Francesco Calazzo, Caserta, Sala, Italy

I am so glad you wrote about Michael’s passing. I got to know Michael and I was lucky to do so.

Years ago, I was at Jazz Fest and saw an old picture of Aaron [Neville] in one of the tents. I went to Royal Street to one of the photography galleries and asked the price. I told the woman when she got the price of the 8 x 10 picture to whisper it in my ear, and she laughed. I said, “Don’t laugh, you see that man standing over there? (My husband) He will have a heart attack right here in your store when he hears the price.” She did whisper it to me and it was $300.

I wanted this picture so desperately I went back to my hotel, looked up Michael P. Smith in the phone book and called him at home—must be the New York in me. He was just incredible. No one had ever done that before. He said, “Give me a little time to find it,” and he shipped me the picture signed and numbered for $60. It is one of my most cherished possessions. I got to meet him and his daughter Leslie the next year and years after, and it was wonderful to watch him working and her helping him. This was Michael Smith.

—Julie Finnegan, North Babylon, New York

Good article, great artist, nice man [regarding Michael P. Smith]. I was lucky to have been snapped by him in the ’70s at Jazz Fest, the first time I lived in New Orleans.

—Sunny Paul, South Dansville, NY

OffBeat’s feature articles are consistently enjoyable and I rarely have a beef with them. I think OffBeat would benefit, however, from more thoughtful and objective CD reviews. For example, it’s really irritating to read a review putting down a good recording because it doesn’t match a reviewer’s concept of what this artist should really be doing, only to find the same reviewer praising slipshod work from someone else a page later. It’s not a matter of style; some of this stuff is beautifully written, no matter how snarky or musically illiterate. Nor is the tendency found exclusively in the work of infrequent contributors. Some of the worst howlers have been written by veteran writers who should know better.

I realize that record reviews are just opinions, but when musicians’ livelihoods depend in part from such opinions, a little quality control at the magazine’s end isn’t too much to ask. Of course, when a CD is totally a piece of crap, I’m always grateful to know up front!

—Tom Smith, Cheshire, CT

Ned Sublette’s piece on Earl Palmer was wonderful. It’s far past time that the real musicians were celebrated: those who toiled in the background and make those classic tunes indelible in the mind.

—Rob Dewar, Ottawa, Canada

Regarding a recent Weekly Beat editorial: Gutterpunks have dogs because if you’re picked up by the cops, they have to do all kinds of paperwork to arrest the dog also, and thus many lazy New Orleanians will let the punks go rather than go through the hassle of all that.
Also: music is art, not a job. When people start thinking of music as a job, the result is shitty music. For instance, rap music, when it first came about, was almost a contest to see who could be more creative: every group had their own look, their own musical concept, and their own sound. If you looked and sounded like anyone else you were laughed at and dissed. Then people realized there was money in it, and that turned it into the homogenized pile of shit it has become.

—Michael Patrick Welch, New Orleans, LA

“Love your work” as they say.

I desperately scan the tour schedule to see if anyone is visiting the land down under, and wonder when we’ll get to come back. (The way our dollar just crashed 30% against yours makes the short-term seem unlikely!). We have seen Jon Cleary a few times over here which is great—but we want more. It’s also great to just read about the people and places we love to see when we visit.

—Denise Murray, Victoria, Australia