Well, sort of. After Jazz Fest, the music community does takes a sigh of relief that it’s all over. Jazz Fest is the time when musicians, and most who benefit from the Fest—musicians, club owners, retailers, studios, restaurants, bars—take a few days to recuperate. When all the tourists have gone home, we have to relax for a minute. Entertaining you takes a lot of work!
What I don’t get is that there’s a not a lot of pro-activity during the summer in promoting music and developing more festivals in the city. The main music events are pretty limited: Bayou Boogaloo (at the end of May); Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Fest/Creole Tomato Fest/Oyster Fest (Vieux To Do) and the Back To The Beach Festival (beginning of June); Essence Fest (beginning of July) and Satchmo Summerfest (beginning of August). So there’s quite a bit going on.
The problem is that we don’t have giant festivals like French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest that are really more music oriented. Essence Fest is a pretty cool festival, but frankly, it’s not necessarily inclusive of a lot of local talent, and its attendees don’t experience New Orleans music, food and culture as extensively as attendees of FQF and JF do (personally, I think it’s a shame that Essence is so “confined” to the Superdome and Convention Center). I wish the promoters could spread the love more throughout the city, like Jazz Fest does.
Anyway…there’s room for more events in the summer in New Orleans. I’ve always supported Satchmo Summerfest, dedicated to the life and times of Louis Armstrong. It’s 11 years old this year and has yet to hit its stride in appealing to the people who love New Orleans jazz—people who are outside Louisiana, and specifically in Europe and Asia. We’re missing the boat. We need a great international festival in New Orleans in August. Let’s face it: most Europeans welcome the heat that we bitch about so much. Just because it’s hot, doesn’t mean it’s not worth experiencing New Orleans!
Regarding my experience with Jazz Fest this year: I thought it was wonderful. Weather was beyond great. My standout performances belonged to the Andrews family: Glen David Andrews, James Andrews, and Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. Paul Sanchez and the Rolling Road Revue set was also phenomenal and unexpected. Maceo Parker. Shamarr Allen. Irma Thomas. Anat Cohen. Evan Christopher and Tom McDermott. Roddie Romero. Too many to count. But you’ll hear more about what the real writers have to say about their Fest experiences in the upcoming June issue of OffBeat.
I’ve heard reports from several clubs this year that claim business was off this year from last, and I intend to look into this phenomenon a bit and keep our readers—and advertisers–posted. It could be that the focus of live music at night has shifted somewhat to Frenchmen Street, away from Uptown, and from some of the venues used by promoters who don’t put on regular shows in the city. It could be that the Jazz Fest crowd is older and more affluent and they spend their energy and money at the Fest, go out to dinner and then go home. Who knows? I’ll ask some questions, and give you some feedback. If you have any ideas or observations on this phenomenon, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below.