With the seemingly growing animosity between the generations (mainly Baby Boomers vs. Millennials—though I don’t know how the Gen X generation got left out of the mix), we need to radically re-think our music festival options.
The Mills and the BBs don’t seem to mix well; so why don’t we further encapsulate the generations and create totally separate festivals for them both instead of trying to mix it up, with some bounce here, some blues there, some jazz in one spot, a little singer-songwriters, pop, emo?
I say someone should create a Geezer Fest, which only admits people over 55. No hip-hop, no bounce. No metal or anything close. No love songs for the Tinder-, OkCupid-, Grindr-, etc.–addicted crowd. Maybe only jazz, blues, old-school R&B? It would have readily rentable electric scooters, wheelchairs (for those who have an able-bodied partner), and electric ones if you wanna pay for them, massive handicapped access in front of all the stages, earplug stations everywhere. Arthritis creams and (if possible) a little CBC topical as well. Less beer, more fruit drinks. A lot more shade.
While Jazz Fest and other music festivals get harder to enjoy the older you get (creature comforts tend to win out over sweating and the pain you have to get over post-Fest from arthritic knees), not going to them means missing something amazing—the music, of course. The overall vibe, the community created by the interaction of the musicians and the crowd. You just never get too old for music festivals. And by the way, bitches: Baby Boomers created music festivals, so you can thank us for that (ever heard of Woodstock and Monterey?)
But the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is the granddaddy (grandmother) of them all: Bonnaroo, Coachella, ACL, Lollapalooza, etc., etc. Their producers came to the Jazz Fest, learned how to do it at the Jazz Fest, and created more festivals in the likeness of Jazz Fest, with a soupçon of new stuff mixed in. So give props where they’re due: The Jazz Fest is the primary source of great American music festivals and events. Well, okay, except for maybe the Newport Jazz Festival, but the same guy who created Newport in 1954 also started Jazz Fest: George Wein.
George Wein had a grand idea, and in my opinion deserves eternal paeans from anyone who loves music festivals (the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation named a building after George and his wife, Joyce). Wein is a genius, and someone who changed the enjoyment of music and music culture forever, all for the love of the art form, all for us music freaks. We continue to enjoy and love our festivals, and yes, pass that love and fun on to younger generations.
So, God bless you, George.