clearn.png
Wednesday July 6th, 2022 3:55AM

Echoes of 2006: Jazz Fest returns to New Orleans for 2022

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Once silenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival opened Friday for the first time in three years — a long awaited 2022 revival that holds echoes of 2006 when the annual celebration of music and culture went on even after Hurricane Katrina.

“We've weathered a storm like no other,” declared lifelong New Orleans resident Jennifer Jones, referring to the pandemic. She was carrying a feather-adorned parasol and strutting the grounds in an outfit of iridescent pinks, blues and yellows.

The two-weekend production draws tens of thousands to the city's Fair Grounds Race Course, where as many as 80 musical acts perform daily on more than a dozen stages, complemented by art and craft exhibits and an array of booths featuring foods from Louisiana and beyond.

“This lovely community, here in New Orleans, needs this festival,” visitor Garey Rosen said as he and a buddy snapped a selfie while “Jesus on the Main Line” blared from the festival's Gospel tent. It was his seventh Jazz Fest for Rosen, who said he's from New Jersey.

“Everybody here relies on this festival. And it is the best festival in the world,” Rosen said.

Lionel Richie and Death Cab for Cutie are among Friday's draws at the festival that sprinkles numerous big-name entertainers throughout its run. The Who headlines Saturday; the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sunday. But the festival may be best known for showcasing a dizzying array of Louisiana musical talent, styles and genres — jazz, blues, Cajun, Zydeco and more.

Organizers pulled off the April 2006 show eight months after levees failed and the city flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and as debris and water-damaged houses still marred the landscape. Longtime festival producer Quint Davis recounts two strong emotional memories from that festival: Bruce Springsteen bringing the local crowd to tears singing “My City of Ruins” to close the first weekend, and the joy at having crowds line up at the gates on opening day.

“It was just incredible energy, like a pilgrimage,” Davis recalled Tuesday.

2020 marked the first time the festival had been canceled in its 50-year history, owing to COVID-19. “It was like a sword through the heart,” Davis said, adding that the comeback has been more difficult in some ways than the post-Katrina festival because the pandemic has led to changes in vendors, higher costs and complications in rounding up equipment after a three-year lull.

The 2020 cancellation, plus cancellations of planned returns in spring and fall of 2021, were emotionally devastating for festival organizers and fans, said Davis. And they brought recurring economic shocks for the bars, restaurants and music venues that count on an influx of Jazz Fest visitors.

“It's our biggest two weekends of the year,” said James Gonzci, a co-owner of Liuzza's by the Track, recalling the disappointment. The neighborhood bar and restaurant draws overflow crowds after each day of the festival.

Robert Mercurio can assess the comeback from two perspectives. As the bassist for the funk band Galactic, he credits the fest with helping the band build international renown after a 1996 performance. As part owner of the historic Tipitina's music club, he appreciates the business that Jazz Fest brings to live music venues as they regain their footing after pandemic shutdowns.

“I think that people who haven't been to New Orleans for a long time are looking forward to coming to Tipitina's to have that real New Orleans experience after the fest,” Mercurio said Thursday.

Jazz Fest returns as COVID-19 cases are at a lower point than they’ve been in months and two-thirds of the U.S. population is vaccinated. Mask mandates, public gathering limits and proof-of-vaccine requirements have been lifted in New Orleans. Hospitalizations remain low in Louisiana after reaching dangerous peaks in 2020 and 2021.

Masks were a rare sight at the fest, most of which takes place outdoors. Ebere Adighibe, selling handcrafted jewelry from a booth with partner Teaty Pawoo, had his mask pulled under his chin — ready if needed. “Indoors, I always put it on," he said as a breeze stirred the warm morning air. "Out here, I’m not worried about it too much.”

Jazz Fest hotel occupancy rates have not rebounded to the 2019 levels yet. Kelly Schulz of the tourism association New Orleans & Co., said downtown and French Quarter hotels so far project occupancy to be about 80%. It was around 90% three years ago.

But Schulz points to several signs of recovery, among them this year's return of the Mardi Gras season's parades and parties, the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, a recent pro golf tournament, NBA playoff games and two major conventions.

Jazz Fest, she said, has an estimated $400 million impact on the local economy, akin to when the city hosts the Super Bowl.

“What we’re seeing is the best period of time as an industry since the beginning of the pandemic,” Schulz said.

“Comparing it to 2006 is meaningful," Schulz said of Jazz Fest's return. “Because I think that’s how people feel about it, in terms of the return and what it means and how much people have waited for this day -- especially because people thought we were going to have it last year and it was canceled again.”

Mercurio, too, says the return of Jazz Fest is reminiscent of 2006 after Katrina. “It feels like an awakening after a really dark time,” he said. “Finally coming to a light at the end of the tunnel that we've all been looking for so long.”

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Entertainment, AP Online Recordings News, AP Sports - NBA
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Vikings move way down in 1st round, take Georgia safety Cine
The Minnesota Vikings have selected Georgia safety Lewis Cine in the first round of the NFL draft
1:21AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Live updates | Britain: Russia's focus remains Donbas region
The British Defense Ministry says Russia’s focus in its war on Ukraine remains the Donbas region
1:21AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Echoes of 2006: Jazz Fest returns to New Orleans for 2022
After being silenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is returning for the first time in three years
1:12AM ( 40 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Perfect Paul, top-seeded Suns finish off Pelicans in Game 6
Chris Paul went 14 for 14 in the best shooting night in NBA playoff history, Devin Booker returned from a hamstring injury to hit a late 3-pointer and the Phoenix Suns beat the New Orleans Pelicans 115-109 on Thursday night to finish off the first-round series in six games
12:32AM ( 1 hour ago )
Defense 1st, then offense, with receivers a focal point
In an NFL draft focused early on stoppers, it was the goers — wide receivers — who stole the spotlight Thursday night
12:15AM ( 1 hour ago )
Breaking down players selected in 1st round of NFL draft
Five defensive players were taken in the first five picks of the NFL draft, including three pass rushers, starting with Georgia's Travon Walker to Jacksonville first overall
12:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Embiid scores 33 points, 76ers finish off Raptors in Game 6
Joel Embiid had 33 points and 10 rebounds, James Harden added 22 points and 15 assists and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Toronto Raptors 132-97 in Game 6 to end the first-round series Thursday night
10:55PM ( 2 hours ago )
2022 NFL Draft l Three members of Georgia defense drafted
The University of Georgia's defense dominated the national championship game and now they're making some noise in the NFL draft
10:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
2022 NFL Draft l Steelers select Pitt QB Kenny Pickett
The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected former University of Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the draft
10:29PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Racial split on COVID-19 endures as restrictions ease in US
Black and Hispanic Americans remain far more cautious in their approach to the COVID-19 pandemic than white Americans
12:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
Jury still deliberating in rape trial of Idaho ex-lawmaker
Jurors in the rape trial of a former Idaho lawmaker are to begin another day of deliberations after a three-day trial in which the young accuser fled the witness stand during testimony, saying “I can’t do this.”
12:22AM ( 1 hour ago )
Dry Southwest braces for stiffer winds, 'epic' fire danger
Thousands of firefighters have continued to slow the advance of destructive wildfires in the Southwest
12:08AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Oklahoma House sends Texas-style abortion ban to governor
The Oklahoma House has given final approval to a Texas-style abortion ban that prohibits abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy
10:04PM ( 3 hours ago )
Report calls out abuse of social media by Minneapolis police
Among the scathing findings of an investigation launched after the police killing of George Floyd is that the Minneapolis Police Department used covert or fake social media accounts to monitor Black activists and organizations
8:54PM ( 4 hours ago )
2022 NFL Draft l Thibodeaux heads to Giants at No. 5
Edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux of Oregon will be bolstering the pass rush for the New York Giants after being chosen fifth overall in the NFL draft
8:47PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Bidens show 'The Survivor' for Holocaust Remembrance Week
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have hosted their first official film screening at the White House
8:46PM ( 5 hours ago )
2022 NFL Draft l Stingley selected by Texans at No. 3
Derek Stingley Jr., yet another outstanding defensive back from LSU, has been selected third overall by the Houston Texans
8:34PM ( 5 hours ago )
Bidens to show 'The Survivor' for Holocaust Remembrance Week
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have hosted their first official film screening at the White House
8:22PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Fountains, scubas, slot machines, Ferris wheel and NFL draft
NFL draft night on Thursday will include prospects walking a red carpet above the Bellagio fountains, a theater built specifically for the proceedings where they hope to hear their names called early, and the aura of gambling everywhere
8:19PM ( 2 days ago )
Carnegie Hall plans return to full schedule in 2022-23
Carnegie Hall plans a return to a relatively full schedule next season for the first time since 2018-19, presenting about 150 events that include Kirill Petrenko’s first New York appearances as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic
12:29PM ( 2 days ago )
Corgis and Cars: Queen's pageant to be parade of the people
The British people will take center stage in at least one event during a long weekend of royal pageantry devoted to Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne
12:22PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online Recordings News
Suns star Devin Booker returns for Game 6 against Pelicans
All-Star guard Devin Booker returned to the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night for Game 6 against the New Orleans Pelicans after missing three games because of a strained right hamstring
6:38PM ( 7 hours ago )
Tougher challenge awaits defending champ Bucks in 2nd round
The defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks recovered from a bumpy beginning and rediscovered their championship form in plenty of time to dispose of the Chicago Bulls in their opening-round series
3:22AM ( 22 hours ago )
Curry, Warriors hold off Jokic, eliminate Nuggets in Game 5
Stephen Curry scored 30 points in his return to Golden State’s starting lineup and the Warriors beat Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets 102-98 on Wednesday night to end the first-round series in five games
1:34AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - NBA
Vikings move way down in 1st round, take Georgia safety Cine
The Minnesota Vikings have selected Georgia safety Lewis Cine in the first round of the NFL draft
1:21AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Live updates | Britain: Russia's focus remains Donbas region
The British Defense Ministry says Russia’s focus in its war on Ukraine remains the Donbas region
1:21AM ( 31 minutes ago )
'It's a reunion': Top 2 Packers picks from Georgia defense
The Green Bay Packers held off on addressing their issues at receiver and instead continued loading up on defensive players from Georgia
1:04AM ( 48 minutes ago )
Utah Sen. Mike Lee braces for toughest reelection fight yet
Republican Sen. Mike Lee has avoided serious challenge in deeply conservative Utah in the dozen years since he came to power in a tea party wave
12:59AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Luka Donic, Mavericks beat Jazz to advance to second round
Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson each scored 24 points and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz 98-96 on Thursday night in Game 6 to wrap up the first-round series
12:45AM ( 1 hour ago )