We created this site to let as many people as possible know that New Orleans is still a vital contributor to American culture – and it’s on vibrant display during the Jazz & Heritage Festival, now in its 37th year. This is the second festival post-Katrina, and lots of musicians are still just now getting back to their New Orleans homes.
Much has changed over those 37 years, including, in 2006, the first year after Katrina, the addition of a major corporate sponsor, Shell Oil. Corporate entities have sponsored many of the various stages at the Festival for years, but Shell’s sponsorship brought some grumbling – many people blame oil companies for destroying the wetlands that formerly offered New Orleans some protection from hurricanes.
The Festival is the second-biggest tourist attraction – and revenue-generator—after Mardi Gras, drawing several hundred thousand people to the city over essentially two weekends. In the past it has been held the last Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of April and the first weekend of May, but post-Katrina, the festival has been scaled back to 3 days of each weekend.
The Festival is held on the Fair Grounds Race Course, a thoroughbred race track in the mid-city neighborhood that is operational the rest of the year. During Jazzfest, the infield is populated with 5 stages; there’s also a small stage in the paddock area, and 5 “tents” -- essentially super-sized huts with concrete floors and folding chairs, that hold several hundred to several thousand people-- dot the interior and exterior of the track. Those stages offer not just “jazz,” but an eclectic mix that’s offered up simultaneously from 11 am to 7 pm daily. As long as your feet are willing, you can cruise from stage to stage, taking in pop, rock, hip-hop, modern jazz, traditional jazz, gospel, blues, zydeco, cajun, brass band, African, Latin, country, alt-country, bluegrass, and reggae.
In 2007, about 375,000 people attended over both weekends. The turnout was the best it had been in years, according to the producers.
With this blog, we bring you words, observations, impressions, sounds and pictures from the Festival and New Orleans during our 11-day stay.
Please view our slide shows for still photos and please, please, please take the time to navigate through the 360-degree panoramic photos. You’ll need a Flash player to view them, but it’s a free download if you don’t have it already.
Thanks for visiting and enjoy.