With 2 days of music and food, the French Quarter’s Satchmo Summerfest celebrates New Orleans native, Louis Armstrong’s birthday. The festival started with The Roots Of Music parading to the Old U.S. Mint, home of the New Orleans Jazz Museum where you can find Armstrong’s first coronet.
The band is a wonderful reminder of the importance of keeping the city’s traditions and culture alive. Grammy Award-winning snare drummer of Rebirth Brass Band, Derrick Tabb, co-founded The Roots Of Music non-profit program providing hundreds of at-risk youths (8-14 years old) with instruments, education, tutoring, meals and a ride home. Continue reading
Friday marked the start of the 15th annual Satchmo Fest celebrating jazz and the life of New Orleans native, Louis Armstrong, with 2 stages of live music, seminars and local food. There were some changes made this year. The most obvious is that the festival is no longer free to the public. I’m sure there are people for whom the $5/day charge might prove too much. I’m thinking especially of large families. That said, you certainly get your money’s worth and if the money went for the new giant tents making it possible to be in the shade all day, it was money well spent. Continue reading
It was unseasonably cold for YLC’s Wednesday at the Square featuring the legendary Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Even in my knit cap and many layers, I envied the people who thought to wear gloves. Louisiana Spice was onstage playing fun covers of popular radio tunes when I arrived but the first thing I noticed was the new jumbo-screen broadcasting images to the furthest corners of Lafayette Square. Continue reading
As the Saints-sponsored Wednesday at the Square series draws near its end, super-group Galactic took the stage. A large crowd of 20-somethings joined the collared-after-work set and the tie-dyed-0ver-40’s to pogo and groove to the high energy music. In addition to the expertise of Ben Ellman on sax, Stanton Moore on drums and Corey Henry on trombone, Living Colour‘s lead singer, Corey Glover joined the jazz, funk, rock, hip hop band.
On the previous episode, the people of New Orleans marched on City Hall to take back their city and demand more from their public servants after a crescendo of senseless violence. I felt the show had hit its darkness bottom in the past few weeks and would finally reveal the complexity and beauty of a city renewing, rebuilding and rebirthing itself. This week, HBO’s Treme seemed to do just that and delve more into why this city is so special and wasn’t as doomed as it looked. I like that the series shows how important music, food, parades and traditions are to the city’s strength and spirit and why they make this a place worth fighting for. Continue reading
Nestled in the valley between the 2 weekends of Jazz Fest, Chaz Fest is a one day concert in the Bywater (a neighborhood near the French Quarter). Eponymous washboard player, “Washboard” Chaz Leary, Chaz is more than just a symbol of the independent free spirit of Chaz Fest, he plays a few songs with every band. The event started 6 years ago when Alex McMurray, guitarist for 007 (a super group with members of G. Love and Special Sauce, the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars and the Iguanas) and the trio, Tin Men, decided to take matters into his own hands after being rejected by Jazz Fest. Continue reading
The last day of French Quarter Fest, we decided to quit fighting the crowds and enjoy the many international bands who’d flown from around the world to, as Julie Parker of K College in England said, “Have the audacity to play your music to you.” Recently, Japan has experienced a natural disaster that exposed infrastructure weaknesses and led to manmade devastation. That’s familiar territory for this city and the people here feel deep empathy for the people of Japan, just as they have for the people of Haiti. We decided to start the day with the Sound of Vespers from Japan. Continue reading
French Quarter Fest day 2 began with the welcome cry of Mr. Okra driving by, “I’ve got fresh plums. I’ve got fresh oranges.” My mother recently told me that her first words were not mama or dada, but “swimp boy.” Growing up with wagon vendors outside her window, everyday she heard the guy roll by yelling, “Shrimp boy” like an ice cream truck’s bells announcing goodies coming your way. Mr. Okra drives a truck donated by locals after Katrina but his call-outs are part of the soul of New Orleans. We bought 7 over-ripe bananas and 4 plums for $2 and headed out. Continue reading