One of my all-time favorite songs is “Everything Must Change,” written by the late vocalist Benard Ighner, that’s been covered so beautifully by singers like Davell Crawford, George Benson, Nina Simone, Carmen McRae, and hundreds of others. It’s just a timeless profound song whose lyrics I’ve always abided by.
So you may notice that this issue of OffBeat looks a bit different. Well, that’s some change for you. Our annual Jazz Fest Bible was also different this year: redesigned, smaller and more compact to carry around and use. We took a chance that our readers would like it, and the response we received to the new size was overwhelmingly positive. A sigh of relief on a risk we took. Thank you!
As you can see with this issue, our monthly OffBeat also has a new look and has been redesigned. Over the years, the look of the magazine hasn’t changed too much. We’ve kept the same design as the one we did when OffBeat converted from a newsprint edition to all-glossy, post-Katrina. When the hurricane blew our staff to the four winds, and almost destroyed OffBeat, we decided to keep the magazine free, but converted it to an all-glossy format to make it look classier, and also to give our advertisers/supporters the benefits of seeing their promotions in a much more appealing format. Since December 2005, when we changed from a newsprint/offset cover magazine to an all-glossy format, we’ve made very few changes to the way the magazine looked, although former art director Elsa Hahne tweaked the 2005 design over the years.
A few months ago, we engaged a new designer, Eric Gernhauser, to possibly redesign OffBeat. The Jazz Fest Bible was the first step, and this issue brings the re-design to completion. We hope you like it and welcome your input and feedback.
For many years, OffBeat’s print listings were de rigueur in our monthly offering. Now with digital media so prevalent, we’ve reduced our print listings to account for the reality of reduced revenues, with the complete listings published online on OffBeat.com. It turns out that our subscribers tend to want the full listings in print, as many of them use the listings when they plan visits to New Orleans, but we’ve done surveys and polls that tell us that many people use online information, which tends to be more accurate (music clubs are notorious for changing listings at the last minute when bands cancel or to move gigs around). Thus, we’ve continued to enhance the online listings and reduce the print listings to accommodate the music venues who support OffBeat by advertising.
Because the media landscape is changing drastically—and swiftly—OffBeat is reassessing its print edition, and we expect you will see more changes to our product over the next year.
The lyrics of “Everything Must Change” say: “Everything must change, Nothing stays the same, Everyone must change, Nothing stays the same. / The young become the old, Mysteries do unfold, ‘Cause that’s the way of time, Nothing and no one goes unchanged….There are not many things In life you can be sure of… / Everything must change…”
There are more changes in store for New Orleans music as time goes by: it’s becoming so evident that the old guard in music is passing on. This issue includes a record four obituaries of local music and culture bearers: Wesley Schmidt (Snug Harbor owner and Storyville Stomper Grand Marshal), Cecil Palmer (restaurateur), Paul Marx (radio KBON founder and owner), and Margaret “Maggie” Warwick (songwriter, musicians and driving force in north Louisiana’s music scene) all passed away recently.
It’s hard for anyone to witness friends’ and colleagues’ passing, but it’s the way life is. One worries how the legacies of these unique individuals will be continued and improved upon, but we have enough faith in local musicians and younger audiences to keep the music alive and to honor the traditions on which our uniqueness as a music city has been founded.
On the other hand, this issue also contains a story on HyperPhlyy, a unique combination of soul and country, created by two young self-designated “country girls” who have created something new and entertaining from two rather disparate forms of musical genres (check them out on YouTube to see what I mean). We also visit with “Princess of Soul” Erica Falls (she was on OffBeat’s cover in June 2014) as she leaves her steady gig as vocalist with Galactic to fly on her own; and introduce you to the indefatigable and inimitable Valerie Sassyfras…plus much more.
In the coming year, we’ll be making more changes to OffBeat, OffBeat.com, Weekly Beat and our social media channels (@offbeatmagazine), and we welcome your suggestions and input for all. We’ll still continue our special Jazz Fest Bible, coverage of fairs and festivals in New Orleans and beyond, more emphasis on the business of music and music education and its impact on the city.
Just like New Orleans music, we are continuing to change and grow, as everything, even OffBeat, must change.