Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Jazz Fest is coming! The Jazz Fest is coming!

If one lives anywhere near the Big Easy at the end of April or beginning of May, chances are he or she will end up at the Jazz Fest. The fact is that the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, better known colloquially as the Jazz Fest, is one huge event. Culturally, it is one of the best things that goes on in New Orleans, but make no mistake about it: it costs plenty to attend. It has come a long way in 40 years from its small gathering of mostly traditional musicians gathered downtown near the old Congo Square to the five days stretched out over two weekends drawing as many as 90,000 fans a day. At $50 per person for admittance and food averaging at about $5 per item and beers selling for $3 each, it doesn't take long to rack up a lot of damage in a short period. And, of course, that's only part of the story. Hotel rooms are packed to capacity at their highest rates before the summertime and restaurants have most of their tables filled over the course of the run of the festival. But it's not the arts, crafts or culture that most endears the Jazz Fest to attendees. In a word it's the music. There is literally something from everyone at the Jazz Fest from punk rock to hard rock to contemporary jazz to beebop to gospel to klezmer to Cajun to zydeco to folk to bluegrass to rhythm and blues to funk. There probably has been no one who wasn't at least pleased with some aspect of the music played at the various stages located at the historic Fair Grounds every year for the past nearly four decades (the first few years the venue was held away from the present location). So, here's to Jazz Fest: 40 years and still going strong!

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