Jazz Fest from a Distance

The 45th New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival started last weekend treating hundreds of thousands of guests to artisan booths and demonstrations, fest food and cooking demonstrations, pop-up book and CD stores, interviews with musicians and, of course, over a dozen stages playing up to 8 shows each a day. I think that comes out to somewhere around 400 different concerts over the course of 2 weekends all on the Fair Grounds Race Course. But what if you couldn’t get here? Or what if you’re one of the locals fed up with yet another price hike? (It’s up to $65/day at the door now). You may not be able to eat the food or watch the Mardi Gras Indians parading past, but you can still hear Jazz Fest in a number of ways.

Opening weekend featured a local lineup of  favorites like Kermit Ruffins, Anders Osborne, Jon Cleary, Galactic and Tab Benoit as well as national acts like Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Santana, Public Enemy and Phish. One way to be at Jazz Fest from afar is to tune into the live broadcasts from WWOZ. From 11am to 7pm, the station chooses stages to showcase and you can listen live through your computer or mobile device. 

There are also live recordings from MunckMix. Though you may have to wait awhile for their engineers to mix the recordings, it’s the best way to capture the music of Jazz Fest like lightning in a bottle. Many of the local musicians release CD’s timed with Jazz Fest. You may miss the many CD release parties around town but you can purchase most of our local recording artists online.

Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes hosts their CD release party for 2,000 Days on May 3rd at the Maple Leaf Bar and they play the Acura Stage at the Fest bright and early May 4th. Drummer Stanton Moore just released Conversations and played with both Galactic and Klezmer Allstars last weekend. He takes the WWOZ Jazz Tent Stage next Thursday, May 1st. You can sample his straight-up jazz tracks HERE.

Grammy winning Rebirth Brass Band played last weekend and they will celebrate their Move Your Body CD release party at Howlin’ Wolf on May 4th. Tickets available HERE. Unfortunately, you can’t sample the music yet but having heard many of the new tunes live, I assure you it’ll be worth the wait.

Glen David Andrews already had his CD release party and Redemption has already hit the Top 40 jazz chart but you can still catch him at the Fest May 4th on the Congo Square Stage at Jazz Fest. (You can sample tracks HERE). We locals have already memorized the words to many of his new tunes during his many live shows around town and I had the supreme pleasure of watching their band recording a churchified cover of Gavin DeGraw’s Chariot.

Andrews was resting his raspy voice after a long week of shows so the band used a practice vocal track when Ivan Neville arrived to add his expertise on keyboards. The recording studio was an old house converted into a comfortable and sophisticated recording studio. I watched Neville play from the booth along with engineers, producers and the band. It was like watching a chef figuring out which ingredients to add to the feast. The collaboration and creativity reminded me a lot of making a movie. Andrews and the band were generous enough to allow me to record part of the session:

Whether you’re attending the Fest or just want to experience it virtually, you’ll enjoy the Jazz Fest App. You can create your music schedule and a list of food booth favorites and their locations, learn about the bands and food offerings, download music, update your social network status and find yourself and your destination on the map at any time.

This week Bruce Springsteen, Lyle Lovett, Christina Aguilera, Chaka Khan and Arcade Fire are just a few of the visiting acts to look forward to while locals include Flow Tribe, Colin Lake, Gal Holiday, Mia Borders, Theresa Andersson, Allen Toussaint, TBC Brass Band, PJ Morton and Red Bull Street King battle of the bands winners, the all-female Original Pinettes Brass Band.

The overwhelming desire to clone yourself so experience 2 or 3 things at the same time happens all the time in a city as full of concerts, festivals and parades as ours. But Jazz Fest can really make you face your priorities. The Fest ends next Sunday night when Aaron Neville, Stooges Brass Band, John Fogerty, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, newly crowned Acura Stage king, Trombone Shorty, and several more share the closing time slot. So, even those attending the Fest can’t see most of the Fest in person. Luckily, in this age of technology, we can find plenty of virtual ways to experience the music.


Leave a comment

Filed under Concerts, Culture, festival

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s