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It’s that time of year again.

I’ve been trying to muster up some enthusiasm for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I’ve been trying for years. But somehow I never seem to work myself up into the appropriate fervor. And if I am lacking in enthusiasm, Xy is downright negative.

When I admit that we are not members of the true faith, people look at us with a mixture of disbelief, disgust and horror. How can this be? How can we not be excited about Jazz Fest?

I do not hate Jazz Fest. I’m just not a big fan. But that is tantamount to heresy in these parts, and I have been scolded for it repeatedly. Indeed the opprobrium is so severe that I have looked deep into my heart, to try to fathom this mystery.

My first problem is the lineup. It is overwhelmingly huge. My eyes glaze over after reading fifty names I barely recognize, and the list goes on and on. I recognize the big acts — who hasn’t heard of Bruce Springsteen? But that brings me to my second problem: the music. I’m sure it’s great stuff for what it is, but it’s not my favorite music. Furthermore, we hardly ever go out to see live music anymore. When we do, I’d prefer an intimate club to the sprawling festival scene.

My third and biggest problem is the price. $40 to get in the gate pretty much excludes a casual visit. I’ll grant you that it’s a bargain in terms of the number of acts you can get to see, but of course that is only true if you make a day of it. I don’t want to make a day of it. I just want to stop by for an hour or two, wander around and see what I’m missing.

There’s some great eating to be had at the Jazz Fest. But you know what? We hit the booths at the French Quarter Fest last weekend and enjoyed some good food and local music. The difference was that admission was free, and we were in the French Quarter, not the Fair Grounds. Besides which, I can eat pretty well any day of the year. I live in New Orleans.

To be fair, I should note that we went last year and had a blissful experience. But we scored free tickets, and only stayed for a couple hours. I’d like to duplicate that experience, but I’m not sure we wanna shell out $100+ for lunch.

Published inMusic & AudioNew Orleans


  1. I like “Heresy’s Kisses”.
    Sorry–couldn’t resist.
    my younger brother has been to jazz fest 10 or 11 years in a row!
    sometimes he’s managed to attend for free and meet musicians, by covering the fest for a Flagstaff newspaper.
    he likes the older, more blues acts, i think.

  2. Garvey Garvey

    Why not do Chaz Fest instead?

    Chaz Fest debuts Thursday, May 4 at the Truck Farm (3020 St. Claude Ave.) in the Bywater, presenting “a veritable who’s who of bands that won’t be playing at the other music festival taking place in New Orleans at the beginning of May (as well as a couple that ARE!).” The festival takes its name from Washboard Chaz Leary, who’ll perform as part of Tin Men. Morning 40 Federation, the Happy Talk Band, Ingrid Lucia and Schatzy are among the acts performing starting at noon…

  3. Jon Jon

    I never made it to Indy 500 or the Bean Blossom Festival the whole time I lived in Indiana. I don’t handle crowds, dust, heat and noise well. Even if I really like the music, the misery involved in hearing it makes most festivals not worth going to. If I had mixed feelings about the music, I wouldn’t even bother to apologize. I will aways regret turning down a ride to Woodstock when I was 14. I had a great time at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz fest in 1973. That was the best line up of musicians I’ve ever seen in my whole life. Unfortunately, I was so drunk that I hardly remember any of it.

  4. Garvey Garvey

    If we’re doin’ “when I was a kid,” then my last Jazz Fest was 1993. The day’s ticket was still ten bucks, and it hadn’t become the nationally known Fest that it is today. I saw a ton of great local acts, but that year I saw Johnny Winter followed by Fats Domino followed by the Allmans. Pretty cool lineup. The one and only time I saw Stevie Ray Vaughn was at the Fest in 1990.

    Of course, there were always mood alterations going on, and I was much younger. But the Fest was a lot of fun back then.

  5. […] Here’s a picture of Bruce Springsteen at Jazzfest taken by my friend Michael. You can read his stirring account here. I wasn’t able to go. Jazzfest is pretty expensive and my friend B wrote a pretty good post about why he isn’t as crazy about Jazzfest as his friends. […]

  6. […] At least one person understood the true purpose of my Jazz Fest heresy: whoring for free tickets. Thanks, Howie! Xy and I had a good time. We stayed for all of an hour and a half, had a good lunch, and left just before it rained. […]

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