Riffing On the Tradition: New Orleans Joys (Jazz Fest 2012)
Writing this article is the most relaxing part of my week, but I have yet to pick up my band's Jazz Fest packet at the Fair Grounds, so I'll be brief telling you about some things you should know about.
First, thanks to your feedback on last week's article about French Quarter Festival, this year at Jazz Fest, there will be bicycle parking for musicians in the musician parking area. It wasn't difficult; I simply called and asked. As I understand it, there will be a couple of extra police barricades designated for bike parking near the pedestrian walkway at the musician entrance. (I don't have any guarantees. It could be like French Quarter Festival, where several of you recounted tales of parking attendants being clueless about the arrangements for 15-minute unloading in the lots by the levee, and re-parking on the edge of the Quarter in a single space allocated for your whole band.) I guess we'll see, but at least you know that a strategy was discussed.
Another thing I want to remind you about is Herbie Hancock's morning appearance at Congo Square. Here's the link to details from an article about "International Jazz Day" by my NolaVie colleague, Wesley Hodges, who has been writing great articles on our music culture. Please try to come out for this. I plan on accompanying my 3-year-old godson for this event. It should be much more meaningful than, for example, last week's yet-to-be-rescheduled farce that was to honor the Rebirth Brass Band at the site of the historic Eagle Saloon. True, that dilapidated, graffiti-ridden jazz landmark on Rampart Street is arguably more the "birthplace of jazz" than Congo Square, but it's Herbie Hancock in New Orleans, so let's not be pedantic and try and enjoy his sentiments that "...jazz will be getting its just due." [link here for more info on "Herbie & UNESCO's Jazz Day,"]
Also, as much as the Jazz and Heritage Festival will eclipse all else over the next two weeks, there are several alternative opportunities that you should encourage your followers to engage. Your fans don't have to endure soap-dodging buskers whose relevance to New Orleans is dubious, or hotel bars where hearing the music over the din of the crowd is challenging at best.
There are some genuine efforts to focus attention on our LOCAL music scene and its value besides background music, party music, or music to accompany eating and drinking. For example, spread the word about performance spaces like the new Café Istanbul, Sweet Lorraine's, Zeitgeist, and Chickie Wah Wah; neighborhood festivals like ChazFest (in it's sixth year); and event producers like Threadhead Records, Backbeat Foundation, and Search and Restore: New Orleans.
Lastly, don't forget about the Jazz and Heritage Foundation's free "Sync-Up" music business conference. This year, there are some serious game changers among the presenters and a strong focus on trends with digital media and marketing. Here's the link to register: Sync-Up registration.
Take care of yourselves in these next weeks, and have a safe and fun fest experience. Enjoy the ride and let the fact that YOU are the reason that the town is abuzz bolster your confidence in your music and inspire your performances.
Evan Christopher is a noted member of the New Orleans music community and a founding member of NOLA Art House Music. His own "Clarinet Road" will have its debut at Jazz Fest on Saturday, 28 April. He writes “Riffing on the Tradition” exclusively for NolaVie.