Jazz Fest Is Over? Jimmy’s Keeps Trying.

Had a glorious second weekend at Jazz Fest—if you count Friday and Saturday. Thursday was too rainy and Friday too cold for my tastes, but I did go on Friday for a couple of hours, until I literally started shivering and had to leave. First Jazz Fest I can remember when it was just too cold to stay. Whatever. Everyone else just bundled up and slogged through the stinky, sticky, sloppy mud. If you pay $65 for a ticket, you’ll enjoy it come hell, high water, manure-laden mud. or cold weather.

Muddy, but happy: Jazz Fest 2013 (Photo: Earl Perry)

If you couldn’t make Jazz Fest, you at least got to bone up on many of the acts you missed if you subscribe to a television provider that carries AXS TV. Luckily, we just started with DirecTV, and I must tell you, it was wonderful to be able to experience a lot of the acts I had  to miss because of the weather or just because I couldn’t get near a stage.

God bless all you Festers throughout the year: you show your love for New Orleans music and culture and we love you! We see an awful lot of OffBeat subscribers and readers during the two weeks of Jazz Fest, both at the Fair Grounds and at the OffBeat office, and just on the street. It’s fun to be able to connect with our readers in person (Facebook, Twitter, digital—bah humbug. Face-to-face is definitely the best!).

I’ve learned that OffBeat is not only a great souvenir of a good time in New Orleans, but it’s a constant reminder of why we love the city to death: OffBeat is the Bible for the members of “the church of New Orleans.” (Is this rampant self-promotion, or what?!).

While the rest of the country and the world revels in their memories of New Orleans and its music and fabulous food and good times, some people are still trying to get the music out there. Jimmy Anselmo is still wading through masses of bureaucracy in order to get his old club reopened.

Despite the support of masses of neighbors, several second line protests, and  the overwhelming support of  music community, Anselmo is still facing major delays in reopening Jimmy’s on Willow Street.

His attorney, Michael Tifft, has challenged the extended moratorium the city placed on granting new ABO licenses in an area that includes Jimmy’s.  They may also need to challenge the city’s zoning and permitting for that area in order to get an ABO (Alcoholic Beverage Outlet) license. So it’s not really about live music; it’s about the financial realities of operating a bar with music. IF you can’t get an ABO license, you can’t make the numbers work. The club could get a special events permit to do events there and serve liquor, but it’s only for a limited time period. Anselmo’s problem is that he can’t get an ABO license. Without serving alcohol, the numbers just don’t work: who’s going to listen to live music without drinking a beer or two?

The Frat House created serious problems for the reopening of Jimmy's. (Photo: NewOrleansOnline.com)

Theoretically, Anselmo could purchase the license from the previous operator, the Frat House. The biggest problem was that the previous operator of the Frat House reportedly has two serious lawsuits pending against that business. The Frat House’s operation was the gun that killed the golden goose at Jimmy’s, in more ways than one. The bar had a reputation for allowing underage drinkers into its premises, it was obnoxiously loud—which alienated the neighbors in the area—and of course, there are those two nasty lawsuits. So buying the Frat House out isn’t an option.

If the ABO license is revoked, there can’t be another license granted at that premises for a year, according to law. So Anselmo is racing against time.

While the second line protests and press help his cause, Anselmo needs to get actual bodies of people who support his cause of reopening Jimmy’s into the ABO license hearings. He also needs to potentially bring up his cause to Zoning and Permits, and bring a crowd of people who support him. They need to be organized and have a good reason to show any licensing and permitting agency, as well as the City Council to convince the powers-that-be that Jimmy’s needs to come back now.

It’s a shame that it’s taken him so long to accomplish a good thing by having to fight bureaucracy and just plain bad luck. It’s in cases like this that the anarchist comes out in me and says that we’d all be better off with a benevolent despot running things.

Preferably, someone who loves music…


  • Color Me Unimpressed

    “…obnoxiously loud, which alienated the neighbors…” Jan, you’re on more sides of the issue than a Rubik’s cube. So, what is it, do you now understand that potentially the dj’s (not the bands, mind you) at St. Roch Tavern and Mimi’s were also playing obnoxiously loud music, which alienated the neighbors, or are you on the loud-as-possible late-as-possible is alright side? It’s hard to figure you out, reasonable or unreasonable flamethrower.

    • CDitty

      Jimmy’s club is the exception. They do LIVE music only and we all like to be done by 2 AM ish which is VERY different than the younguns in the bywater.

  • Patrick Cooper

    As a gigging musician, I would love to have live music back at Jimmy’s, but I do have a question. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Mr. Anselmo own the building when The Frat House was in operation? If so, it seems that he should have been a more active landlord in making sure that the owners of The Frat House didn’t run a bar that was a bad neighbor. If they didn’t behave “right”, he should have evicted them (perhaps the name of the bar should have been a clue of what kind of bar was going to operate there). It seems that this chicken has come home to roost and the neighbors don’t trust that the new/old bar will be well run. Having said that, if I lived close by I would be in favor of having Jimmy’s reopen but put on a “short leash”. Two legitimate complaints and it’s curtains. I hope a solution can be reached.

    • CDitty

      Mr. Anselmo was the force that ousted The Frat, not the City of New Orleans. This is an important fact to know.

      • Patrick Cooper

        Thanks for that information, CDitty. That is an important fact to know.

  • Mgico

    “…the anarchist comes out in me and says that we’d all be better off with a benevolent despot running things.”

    That’s an oxymoron. If you’re an anarchist, you rebel against any authority, established order, or ruling power. A benevolent despot most certainly is a ruling authority. (indeed, a benevolent despot is nothing more than a ‘kinder, more compassionate’ dictator.)

    • Color Me Unimpressed

      That’s the rub on Jan’s columns that I commented on. She’s on all sides of the issue, and her logic is equally out of whack.

  • motteatoj

    Stuck in CT for Jazzfest….THANK YOU AXS tv!! Props to Jazz Henry, go girl!!!