I wanted to write a post today because I am really missing Jazz Fest this weekend and the time I usually spend in my second home city of New Orleans more than I expected. The festival was first postponed and I had hope for the Fall but then it was officially canceled this week. I didn’t think that anything could stop this festival. I have only seen this festival cancel one day over the 12 years I have covered it. On that day in 2016, it flooded and people were literally swimming out of the fairgrounds as Stevie Wonder took over a megaphone to tell them to go home. The music has continued in sheets of rain, lightning, oppressive heat and mud but this virus took it down in its 51st year.
This festival was one of the first major festivals that I covered when I started working as a music photographer. I even bought a house and moved to New Orleans as a second home in part because of this musical event and the love I developed for this special city and its music.
I have developed a lot of beloved Fest traditions over the years from seeing friends to Cajun food selections. Almost every day at the fairgrounds I have a crawfish enchilada and a snowball. Other days when I am more adventurous I will have a pound of crawfish and beignets from Café Du Monde. I can always expect a few days of rain boots and my JazzFest poncho to be needed to protect my camera gear from summer rains at the festival but it has all become part of the fun over the years to post our selfies in the storms.
The music is what keeps us coming back year after year. New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has music that sets it apart from all the other festivals. It has legendary musical acts in Jazz, Blues, Gospel and mixes it with some of the today’s newest acts. The music is also global each year bringing artists from all over the world to play for the crowds of over 425,000 people over the eight-day festival. I was really looking forward to seeing The Who, Foo Fighters, Brandi Carlile and Lizzo take the stage this year. I also never miss hometown favorites The Revivalists and Big Freedia.
WWOZ New Orleans is replaying Jazz Fest sets from over the decades during the days of the festival and people all over New Orleans are “Festing in Place.” I am driving down next Thursday to New Orleans. I have found that even if I must stay at home I can at least do it listening to the show and ordering takeout from my favorite JazzFest food vendors.