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2017 Attendance numbers, and 2018 Dates [May. 10th, 2017|05:26 pm]
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Keith Spera of the Advocate reports:

Attendance for the 2017 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival totaled approximately 425,000, organizers said Wednesday.

That amount is the same as the 2016 attendance figure. Rain cut into ticket sales for both this year's and last year's festivals.

In 2015, Jazz Fest -- officially it is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell -- drew an estimated 460,000 attendees, the highest total since Hurricane Katrina.

Overall Jazz Fest attendance has still not rebounded to its pre-Hurricane Katrina levels.

In 2001, the estimated attendance was 650,000. That figure was boosted by what may have been the biggest single day in festival history, featuring the Dave Matthews Band and New Orleans rapper Mystikal, who was then at the peak of his popularity.

Matthews was back at the Fair Grounds in 2017, but as part of an acoustic duo with Tim Reynolds.

The only main Acura Stage act this year to fully fill the field and the large green bleachers at the back of it was Stevie Wonder.

Steady rains on the first Sunday delayed the festival's opening by four hours and diminished what likely would have been an enormous crowd for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

That day's rain depressed attendance overall on the first Sunday. Pitbull, who was to have closed the Congo Square Stage that evening, cancelled his show, reportedly because the day's storms prevented him from flying to New Orleans.

Contemporary R&B singer Usher, backed by "The Tonight Show" house band the Roots, as well as annual favorite Frankie Beverly & Maze filled the Congo Square Stage field. But that space is considerably smaller than the Acura Stage field.

The dates for the 2018 Jazz Festival, the 49th overall, are set for April 27 to May 6.


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Heavy Overnight Rain [May. 3rd, 2017|11:38 pm]

Rain hit the New Orleans area starting late morning Wednesday.  The 10 pm local news said that 2-3 inches had fallen at that time.  But it's been raining heavily since then in the Fairgrounds neighborhood, and several more hours are likely.  Another 2-3 inches are forecasted, and from what I see outside my window, the high end of that range seems likely.  That would mean a 24 hour total of as much as 6 inches.

The good news is that the rain is supposed end by mid morning Thursday, with decreasing cloudiness in the afternoon.  So umbrellas won't be needed in the afternoon, but boots may be another story.  The Fairgrounds drainage is actually pretty good, and conditions are usually markedly better if it has time to drain before tens of thousands of Jazzfest attendees start stomping the puddles into mud.  Last Sunday was good evidence of that.  Still, this is a LOT of rain.  Conditions may be pretty muddy.

If you don't wear boots, do wear shoes you don't mind getting dirty.  And avoid flip flops, which get easily stuck in the mud when the track gets wet.  Mud or not, it will be much cooler than a usual Fest day, with temperatures likely staying below 70, and a strong northwest wind.

My advice, have the boots ready, and watch the local news in the morning for any live ealy reports from the fest.  I'll also try to find out what conditions are like, and if I hear anything, it'll be posted to the Swagland Facebook page.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday look to be lovely.
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Some Quick Thoughts on 1st Sunday [May. 1st, 2017|09:27 am]

A storm front passed through New Orleans around noon yesterday.  There was a risk of severe weather, and when it was done, the rainfall totals broke at least one record (2.89 inches fell in a few hours, breaking the old record for April 30).

In what I believe are unprecedented decisions, even before the bad weather started, the fest decided to delay opening the gates.  The fest eventually opened at 3 pm.

I've seen delayed openings before, usually until 11:30 or noon, when overnight or morning bad weather requires extra clean-up and drying-out time.  I've seen early shutdowns, usually just 30 or 60 minutes, though one day last year they did have to shut down at 4 pm.  And I've seen temporary midday shutdowns when music stopped midday but restarted an hour or so later.  And there have been a few days when the fest scrapped entirely, not opening at all on that day.  But delaying for predicted weather that hasn't hit yet is a first, as was having a fest day with the Fairgrounds open for only 4 hours.

But I agree with the decisions.  Safety has to come first, and this weather was nasty.  The Grandstand is the only permanent building available for shelter.  It's not big enough for a full fest crowd, and when the masses do take refuge there, it can get pretty uncomfortable. And yesterday, the Grandstand lost power for a while during the storm.   Better for people to wait it out at home, in their hotel rooms, or at bars & restaurants.

What I will fault the fest for, though is communication.  They got the word out quickly that the opening would be delayed, but after that, info got sparse.

  1. Jazz Fest gates will open momentarily and music will begin at about 3:00 PM. See you soon.

    50 replies142 retweets188 likes

  2. Please standby for an update on this afternoon's opening of Jazz Fest.

    195 replies102 retweets210 likes

  3. Jazz Fest opening is delayed until this afternoon. For updates, continue to follow us.

There was nothing after that until 2 pm, which was devoid of specifics.  Finally, right before 3 pm, they announced the imminent opening.  The problem is, many were waiting it out downtown, and for them, it's 30 to 60 minutes to get from where they were to the fest gates, knocking off a quarter of what part of the fest did go on.  Imagine if we had seen these tweets instead...
11 am:  We'll wait until after the storm to open, but forecasts show the front should be past by early afternoon.
12:00:  Power at at the Fairgrounds, Entergy is working to get it restored.
1:30 pm:  Power is back, the worst weather has passed, we're assessing everything, but do hope to open later.
2:15 pm:  Working to get dried out and to get all the workers back in place.  No promises, but we're working towards a 3 pm opening.
2:55 pm: Jazz Fest gates will open momentarily and music will begin at about 3:00 PM. See you soon.

Anyway, once the gates finally opened, it was a great afternoon. The scheduled bands still played their full sets (except Pitbull, who cancelled, apparently, the weather prevented his plane in from flying). Most of the food booths were open, though a few were not (creole stuffed bread, trout baquet, cuban food). There were puddles in some places, but it was less muddy than you might have expected. The temperatures were cool, and the crowds were light.

Everything should be back to normal for second weekend. See you then!
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Jazz Fest News & Notes [Apr. 27th, 2017|09:38 pm]
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The Grids

The Jazz Fest Grids are the most comprehensive listing of music outside the Fairgrounds during the two weeks of Jazzfest.  With the Grids completed for 2017, these are the latest totals:

"So far over the 15 days of Jazz Fest we have posted 1678 different sets among 743 shows and approximately 65 venues."

Big thanks to the volunteer Gridders for all their work compiling this amazing resource.


It looks like none of the VIP ticket offerings have sold out this year.

Jazz Fest Cachet

This year's edition of the annual Jazz Fest Cachet from the US Postal Service honors Monk Boudreaux.  You can buy this collectible envelope for $15 at the USPS booth at the festival, located along the walkway between the back of the Gentilly Stage and the Economy Hall Tent.

Read more:

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One Day Out, News Roundup [Apr. 27th, 2017|05:38 pm]
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Here are today's highlights of the latest Jazzfest news and advice articles.

Keith Spera of the Advocate has a feature about this year's Jazz Fest poster.
NOLA.com has a slideshow of the final preparations around the Fairgrounds.
NOLA.com also has a trio of must-read articles for anyone driving to the Fairgrounds.
One point to emphasize, especially for out of towners:  Parking within 20 feet of crosswalk or stop sign is illegal in New Orleans, even if it isn't marked.  In other cities, this would be a perfectly legal space.  And while many parking violations will result only in a ticket (usually $40), parking too close to the crosswalk is one that's likely to result in a tow.

Also, correcting some out of date info in the linked parking articles:  Parking in City Park is no longer at Marconi Meadows.  It's now on the other side of the park, on Wisner Dr north of Fillmore.  There's free parking there on a grass field.  Shuttles from that location are $15 roundtrip per person.  Shuttles from the Sheraton or Steamboat Natchez Dock locations are $20 roundtrip.  Details at http://www.graylineneworleans.com/all/seasonal/jazz-fest-express.

Advice for Parents.

Sunday is forecasted to be wet, so here's some inclement weather advice.

Nola.com makes some picks of crafts and of vegetarian food.

A summary of the Advocate's food suggestions.

And finally, today's set of historical photos features Friday's headliner.
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Beverages [Apr. 26th, 2017|09:38 pm]
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Word is that the beer and soda prices are unchanged from last year.

Domestic beer:  Coors Banquet, Miller Lite, Miller High Life $6 for a 12 ounce can.
Specialty Beer (last year's selections): Blue Moon, Summer Shandy, Redd Apple Ale and (new) Henry’s Hard Orange Soda, $ 8 for a 16 ounce can.
Water:  $3
Coke products  $4

One addition to the soda selection: Dr. Pepper.

Last year, over at the draft booths, 16 ounce draft Abita, Blue Moon and Urquell were $7, and the draft Miller Lite & Bud were $6.
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Searchable Jazz Fest Database [Apr. 26th, 2017|07:36 pm]
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Jazz Fest has unveiled a searchable database listing every (scheduled) Jazz Fest performance going back to the first year of the Fest.  Their description:

This database was compiled from the Jazz Fest Program Books and lists every performer at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival beginning in 1970.

Over the years Stage names have changed and even Performers have altered the spelling of their names (Dixie Cups vs. Kups) . Please be mindful of these variations and make your search as simple as possible. Also note there are often last minute schedule changes and those changes from the pre-digital era may not be noted.

As an amateur Jazzfest historian, I'm pretty excited to have this resource.  I've wanted to assemble something similar myself, but never had the time.  My own Cube Rescue Program is missing some of the early years, only the last 20 years are searchable, and even for those the search function doesn't always work.  #techissues

The 2005 book The Incomplete, Year-by-Year Selectively Quirky, Prime Facts Edition of the History of The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has comprehensive listings of all the acts up until that point, but it's not searchable or indexed, and of course, being in print means it's not annually updated.  The book is highly recommended anyway.

This isn't Jazzfest's first attempt at this.  They tried something similar a decade or more ago (before Katrina?), but it was buggy and eventually taken offline.  This time, it seems to be working well.  Both Fairgrounds sets as well as the erstwhile official evening concerts are included, and searches will even match on the notes field, which includes the names of performers in the band (for some sets, this isn't fully populated).  So a search for Freddie will turn up all the Little Freddie King sets since the beginning, but also a 1971 "Salute to Louis Armstrong - The Galvanized Washboard Band" which included someone named Freddie Vigorito (and also a well known filmmaker).

Check it out at https://jfdb.jazzandheritage.org/.

I'll keep my own Cube Rescue online and updated.  These new searchable listings are great, but many will also like the visual impact of seeing the full day schedule at once.  And my pages also include non-official night show listings, well know now as the Jazz Fest Grids.  Visit Cube Rescue at http://jazzfest.swagland.com/cubes/.
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WWOZ Live Broadcast Schedule [Apr. 26th, 2017|06:59 pm]
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For those of you who can't make it to Jazzfest this year, or won't attend every day, here's the next best thing.

WWOZ radio will broadcast live sets from the festival each day.  90.7 in the NOLA area, or stream at www.wwoz.org worldwide:


WWOZ will again be at the Fairgrounds every day of the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, bringing you the sounds of the fest from various stages.

Here's our live broadcast plan. It's subject to change, pretty much right up to air time. We'll also be adding more acts, once we obtain artist releases.

Friday, April 28

11:15a - NOON Jazz Tent
David L. Harris

12:25 - 1:20p Jazz Tent
John Mahoney Big Band

1:40 - 2:35p Blues Tent
Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Russell Batiste, Jr.

4:25 - 5:40p Jazz Tent
The Joey Alexander Trio

6:00 - 7:00p Jazz Tent
Astral Project

Saturday, April 29

11:10 - 11:50a Blues Tent
Brother Tyrone & the Mindbenders

1:10 - 2:20p Blues Tent
Kenny Neal and the Baton Rouge Blues Revue

2:40 - 3:50p Jazz Tent
The Pedrito Martinez Group

4:15 - 5:35p Jazz Tent
The Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya and Hugh Masekela Terence Blanchard

Sunday, April 30

12:15 - 1:10p Jazz Tent
Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson Quartet

1:20 - 2:15p Blues Tent
Lil’ Buck Sinegal Blues Band with special guest Barbara Lynn

2:40 - 3:30p Blues Tent
Luther Kent & Trickbag

4:00 - 5:00p Jazz Tent
John Boutté

Thurday, May 4

12:30 - 1:20p Jazz Tent
Quiana Lynell and the Lush Life Band

2:55 - 3:45p Economy Hall Tent
Charlie Gabriel & Friends

4:25 - 5:30p Jazz Tent
Torkestra: The Great American Songbook featuring Germaine Bazzle, Kermit Ruffins, Clint Johnson and more

5:50 - 6:45p Economy Hall Tent
Doyle Cooper Jazz Band

Friday, May 5

4:10 - 5:10p Blues Tent
William Bell

5:40 - 7:00p Blues Tent
Rhiannon Giddens

Saturday, May 6

12:15 - 1:00p Blues Tent
Glen David Andrews Band

2:35 - 3:35p Blues Tent
A Tribute to Buckwheat Zydeco featuring Nathan Williams, C.J. Chenier, Corey Ledet and the Ils Sont Partis Band

4:05 - 5:10p Jazz Tent
Kenny Baron Trio

5:40 - 7:00p Jazz Tent
SFJAZZ Collective Plays the Music of Miles Davis

Sunday, May 7

11:15 - 11:45a Blues Tent
Daymé Arocena of Cuba

2:40 - 3:40p Jazz Tent
Jamison Ross

3:45 - 4:55p Blues Tent
Tab Benoit

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Jazzfest Preview Roundup [Apr. 25th, 2017|07:56 pm]
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Lots more articles getting published in the days leading up to Jazzfest.  Here are a few of the best.

Nola.com offers A Jazz Fest guide for bicyclists (and drivers, too!).  It's chock full of good advice for riding in New Orleans, especially during Jazzfest.

For as long as I can remember, Offbeat has pubished Jazzfest A-Z describing each performer at the fest (I posted about this yesterday).  Now nola.com chimes in with New Orleans Jazz Fest Food from A to Z, describing a selection of the dishes at the festival, from Alligator to Zucchini.

They've also put up a photo slideshow of What to eat at New Orleans Jazz Fest: Our favorite dishes.  First timers should read this to get an apprecition of the breath and depth of the food offerings.  If you've been before, maybe you'll get some ideas for new dishes to try. And here's a fun game for you Jazzfest veterans:  Treat this as a quiz! Go through the pictures and without reading the caption, try to name each dish.  Don't forget the sides on those combo plates! [Caution:  may cause hunger!]

Gambit Weekly has come out with their Jazz Fest Week One issue.  You'll find some feature articles, along with their Performance Picks of about a dozen acts for each day.  (But no "Count Basin" this year?)

The New Orleans Advocate has a feature on How the 2017 New Orleans Jazz Fest honors deceased 'Ancestors'.

Keith Spera of the Advocate offers up his picks for a few acts for each day of first weekend not to miss, Musical highlights of the 2017 New Orleans Jazz Fest's first weekend.

He also picks some night shows, Music after dark during the 2017 New Orleans Jazz Fest's first week.
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Hugh Masekela [Apr. 25th, 2017|06:03 pm]

It looks like Hugh Masekela has canceled his Jazzfest appearances.

The South African trumpeter had been scheduled to appear twice at the Fairgrounds.

  • The Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim, Ekaya and Hugh Masekela, 4:15 p.m.-5:35 p.m. Saturday, April 29, WWOZ Jazz Tent

  • A Salute to Louis Armstrong featuring Hugh Masekela and Dr. Michael White, 4:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, Economy Hall Tent

The first is now listed as "The Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya with very special guest Terence Blanchard".
The second one is now "
A Salute to Louis Armstrong featuring Nicholas Payton, James Andrews, and Dr. Michael White".

He was also supposed to play Sunday in Atlanta, but the local paper there reports:

The Atlanta Jazz Festival’s International Jazz Day concert has been canceled. The festival announced Monday that the illness of one of the headliners, South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela of The Jazz Epistles, led to the cancellation. “We wish Mr. Masekela a speedy recovery and hope The Jazz Epistles will return to Atlanta," said Camille Russell Love, executive director of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Masekela cannot travel to the United States, according to the news release.

From his video apology about his NYC show, he had a fall and maybe hurt his arm.

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