Jazz Fest 2017
Amidst a rocking performance at Tipitina’s on Jazz Fest Eve, Anders Osborne serenaded the audience with a prolonged rendition of “Summertime in New Orleans,” accenting the “We All Know Who Dat Is” verses. His emphatic decision not only served as an appropriate introduction to the seven-day celebration of New Orleans music ahead, but also silenced critics who ask, “Where’s the jazz at Jazz Fest?”
Never mind the 12 acts per day featured in the Jazz Tent and Economy Hall or the brass bands who blow their hearts out at the Jazz and Heritage Stage or the undercurrent of jazz influence on the big stages. What Osborne’s ode to the local artist really does is to champion the ones who attend Jazz Fest every year… who support New Orleans music year-round.
It’s no secret that New Orleans is a collision of romance and reality, and it’s easy to be cynical when a local treasure grows beyond its borders to become a national treasure, but like Trombone Shorty, make no mistake, Jazz Fest is keeping the traditions alive.
Where else but Jazz Fest can you see the evolution of music so vivaciously? When congas talk to bass drums during Trumpet Mafia’s set, when the Soul Rebels set the rhythm for Nas at Congo Square, when Cyril Neville’s Blues Tent set overlaps Jon Batiste’s Acura show, when the Midnite Disturbers push the limits of brass, when Galactic is transforming the definition of a New Orleans band before your very eyes, the Fest is at its peak, celebrating its history while practicing the essential purpose of art, making it new.
That theme continues when you see old faces in new places. Finding “Mean” Willie Green on drums for the New Orleans Suspects, June Yamagishi with Corey Henry, Shamarr Allen with Galactic speaks to the power of the New Orleans musician network and reminds us that even when groups disband, artists play on in ways that are familiar, new, and great.
It’s clear we’re in good hands—hands that will keep us clapping for years to come. Thanks, Quint [Davis], for once again, putting on the best festival in the world.
—Andrew Gibbs, New Orleans, Louisiana
Jazz Fest Bible Book
Every year I look forward to the Jazz Fest Bible. I savor it, devour it, and save it on my shelf. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if OffBeat put together a book of all of the Jazz Fest Bibles, or at least the artist stories that you publish each year. I know in the past you have put out calls to your subscriber base for ideas about how to diversify your revenue stream and re-package all of the amazing content you have stored away. As a consumer, I could contact you and purchase back issues (Bibles) I may have missed, but a book that comes with a few bells and whistles maybe a piece or two of new content, or a compilation CD, would be very enticing. And, I could purchase a copy for a friend!
—Rich Grogan, West Chesterfield, New Hampshire
Post Office Owes
Again, someone with the post office is reading my OffBeat Jazz Fest Bible.
Periodically I do not receive my OffBeat magazines for the past five years or so. I do not know if the employee that delivers on my route is taking them, or if they never leave the post office. Anyway, I really look forward to the Jazz Fest edition. My friend offered for me to look at theirs, but they do not want to give it to me because Trombone Shorty is on the cover.
—David Keith Hunt, Elmer, Louisiana
Better Festival Food, But No Football
The following is in response to Marine Laval’s online piece, “Discovering Jazz Fest: A French First-Timer’s Thoughts on New Orleans’ Biggest Music Event.”
After living in Nice for a few months, I agree that there is nothing like Jazz Fest although the Festival du Port did seem to have much higher quality of food and wine than you would find at festivals in the US. I had the idea of moving there, but I couldn’t live without baseball, American football and the quality of live music in the US. At least I was happy to find a big display for Trombone Shorty’s last CD when it was released.
—Joanne Drummond, New Orleans, Louisiana
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