I hope OffBeat readers are planning a visit to this year’s Essence Fest. It’s certainly one of the better music and cultural events in New Orleans throughout the year, and it’s a perfect way to hear national artists in a setting that’s comfortable and accessible—but I wish the festival had kept up the tradition of booking more local acts in the Superlounges.
I’ve observed that a lot of local white people seem to eschew Essence, which is really a shame because it’s a fantastically-produced event, with a lot to offer musically and culturally. It just goes to show that we have a really long way to go to bridge the cultural gap between the races in New Orleans—a city reputedly known for its racial intermingling. Take my advice: check out Essence; if you haven’t in the past, you’ll really enjoy yourself.
A word on that touchy subject of race relations: I know I’m going to sound like a real “liberal” here (God forbid, that’s what I am!), but until we can understand what makes each other tick, and for white folk to put themselves in the shoes of their African-American brethren, then we’ll continue to mistrust each other—under the surface.
Until all citizens of this earth are not hungry, are loved and well cared for by a family, are educated and have a decent job, we’ll never be equal. Until we all feel as though we’re not being picked on and discriminated against just because of the color of our skin, our sexuality, our gender or our religion, then we’ll never have peace on earth. Until we realize that all human beings are basically the same—if they have the same opportunities, they will thrive accordingly—we will never have a society that is content. Until we have a clear idea of what is fundamentally good to do in our business and personal dealings, and when we all stand up for the right instead of what seems politically correct based on our skin color, we’ll never be able to achieve anything as human beings, not as a member of a “race.” Feeling victimized because you’re a woman, or an African-American, or a white man, or a homosexual, or a Muslim or Jew, a musician or an artist, or whatever, is just not acceptable. Get up, get educated, get motivated, get going and resolve to create positivity in your community!
SATCHMO SUMMERFEST & FRENCH QUARTER FEST
French Quarter Festivals, Inc. announced that they’ve chosen a new CEO: Kathleen Alter. FQFI produces French Quarter Festival, Satchmo SummerFest and Christmas New Orleans Style. Alter was selected after an extensive search process that attracted over 100 applicants from across the United States.
Alter hails from Fort Wayne, Indiana where she served as Executive Director for the Three Rivers Festival for six years. The Three Rivers Festival is the second largest in the state with over 500,000 attendees annually. She has over 16 years of successful event planning, marketing and sales experience at the local, state, regional and national levels and will assume her duties as CEO on August 1. “I’m really excited to be moving to New Orleans and arriving in time for Satchmo SummerFest,” she said in a telephone conversation. Welcome, Kathleen, to the Big Easy! Satchmo SummerFest is right around the corner (August 4-7, at the Old Mint), and for a little festival in the middle of summer in New Orleans, it’s morphing into another jewel in the crown of FQFI. The jazz-inspired program includes educational seminars, an outdoor music festival, exhibits, a jazz mass, activities for budding young jazz fans, a great club crawl on Frenchmen Street, local cuisine, and a star-studded line-up of performances from local and international jazz musicians. The musical lineup this year includes Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews & Orleans Avenue, Donald Harrison, Phillip Manuel, Kim Prevost & Bill Solley, Yoshio Toyama & the Dixie Saints, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Dr. Michael White’s Original Liberty Jazz Band, Bradford Truby Trio, the FQF All-Stars featuring Tim Laughlin, Andrew Hall Society Brass Band, Hot 8 Brass Band, Li’l Rascals Brass Band, Pinettes Brass Band, Storyville Stompers, Some Like It Hot, and the ReBirth Brass Band, among others. It’s one of FQFI’s free festivals, and also includes a seminar component with speakers and presenters George Avakian, Michael Cogswell, Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Bob Koester, Lili LaGardeur, Ellis Marsalis, Irvin Mayfield, John McCusker, Dan Morgenstern, Jack Stewart, Ned Sublette, Charles Suhor, Clive Wilson, and many more. For more info on Satchmo, log onto www.satchmosummerfest.com.
CLINT CROONS FOR W.
Former OffBeat coverboy, Liquidrone’s Clint Maedgen, will sing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the White House on July 18. Clint and company will be entertaining President George W. Bush and the Ambassador from India.
MUSIC TAX INCENTIVE PASSES
For several months, Scott Aiges of the City’s Music Office has been working on a tax incentive measure that would provide tax “refunds” for persons recording in Louisiana, similar to the film tax credits that already exist—that have significantly increased movie production in the state. “We as a state have been asking people to make movies in Louisiana, so it makes sense to ask people to make their albums here too,” said Aiges. “We’ve been struggling to make an industry here, and the Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit (HB 631) is a concrete step in improving our music economy. We can use it to bolster our sound recording industry.” The bill has passed both houses and at this writing passage of the bill seems imminent. “We’ve worked really hard to get the bill passed, because originally it was opposed by the Governor’s Office—the edict was out that there would be no new tax credits, but they relented. We worked it all the way through the session, made it part of the Mayor’s agenda in the legislature, and fought really hard—in the last two weeks, they finally got behind it,” Aiges says. Here’s how it works: There’s a refundable tax credit for whoever puts the money up to make a record in Louisiana. It’s basically a credit that’s calculated on what’s spent in Louisiana. Independent artists would also be eligible. If you spend $15,000 in a year on production (the credit applies only to production costs), then you receive a tax credit in the form of a refund. There are stepped credits: spending of $15,000 up to $150,000 yields a 10% credit; $150,000 up to $1-million yields a 15% credit; $1-million-plus yields 20%). A sticking point on passage (which will be worked out, according to Aiges) is the cap on total amount of credits that can be given in any given year. “In state, we estimate that there’s currently $2-million a year being spent on record production. The goal of this legislation is to show that we can increase that amount dramatically with this tax incentive.” Aiges thinks the state will probably put a $3-million cap on total tax incentives granted in a year, which would mean that the amount of production could potentially more than triple. Good news for the Louisiana recording industry!
The 13th annual Cutting Edge Music Business Conference adjourns August 18-21 at the Hotel Inter-Continental and will feature seminars on such topics as “How to create an artist’s career from start to finish” and “Building an image for your artist or company.” Wilson Turbinton, better known as Willie Tee, will discuss his musical career, “the cats I played with” and the historic recording of the first Wild Magnolias album. Also scheduled to appear at the conference are Basin Street Records owner Mark Samuels, Orleans Records owner Carlo Ditta, Louisiana Red Hot Records owner Harris Rea, Harrah’s headliner Earl Turner and yours truly. For all the details, check out www.jass.com/cuttingedge. The Cutting Edge is in part sponsored by the Louisiana Music Commission (www. louisianamusic.org). The Music Business Institute is a New Orleans based not-for-profit organization.