That Time, Again

Oh my, it’s Jazz Fest time again. Our annual Jazz Fest Bible is now on the street; we hope you enjoy it, and will continue to support what we do by subscribing every month, checking out our website, and downloading our OffBeat app for iPhone and Android.

Jazz Fest itself is incredibly consuming, but there are so many other events happening during the two-week Jazz Fest period that it’s literally a music and culture lover’s embarrassment of riches. Clubs and venues around town offer just about any type of music or scene that you could possibly crave. And in between the two weekends, there are also musical events: WWOZ’s annual fundraiser, Piano Night at House of Blues on April 30, featuring Henry Butler, Carol Fran, John Gros, and many others; also on April 30 is Instruments a’ Comin’, the Tipitina’s Foundation’s annual fundraiser that provides instruments for young musicians in New Orleans and all over the world. This year’s event features a Battle of the Marching Bands down Napoleon Avenue, with the main event including performances by Trombone Shorty, Galactic, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Shamarr Allen, Anders Osborne and a lot more.

On May 1, the first-ever New Orleans Musicians For Obama event takes place at Generations Hall, with a line-up of over 100 musicians who have agreed to participate in raising money for the Obama campaign, including Dr. John, Troy Andrews, Marcia Ball, Maria Muldaur, Zigaboo Modeliste, the Royal Southern Brotherhood, Deacon John, John Mooney, Irvin Mayfield, Glen David Andrews, Kermit Ruffins, Leo Nocentelli and many, many more. I think it’s probably the largest concert of its type during Jazz Fest that I’ve ever seen. Tickets are on sale in advance or are available at the door.

The “Bible” has an interesting piece on Frenchmen Street in this month’s issue in which our writer Delaney Nolan looks into what could happen to the music on the street if prohibitive noise ordinances hold sway, or if zoning ordinances currently on the books are rigidly enforced. It’s a scary proposition, with no easy answer.

One of the biggest problems on the street, noise-wise, are the rotating brass bands that regularly play on the corner of Chartres and Frenchmen Street. Many of the club owners in the vicinity say that if the brass band could end its set earlier, before music in the clubs begins, it would be acceptable; the brass band is literally so loud at times that their music is louder than what’s being played in the clubs, with their doors shut. It’s also been a source of complaints from some of the residents in the area. But should brass bands be prohibited from playing on the streets of New Orleans? It’s a thorny question.

What should be done to encourage brass bands, and give them the opportunity to get exposure (and make money) on the city’s current “music street”? Should they be banned from playing after 10 p.m.?

What do you think? Love to hear your suggestions on how this can work for everyone.

In the meantime, the next two weeks will be spectacularly satisfying if you’re a music lover.

Wave your flag for me, eat a softshell crab po-boy, buy some unique local stuff, eat out, and go listen to as much live local music as you can.

I’ll be rolling around the Fairgrounds; stop and send me an “OK sign” like the “O” in OffBeat.  Happy Festin’!