From May 5th through the 7th, I began a life of music festivals…maybe. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival began in 1970. It consisted of just one main stage and several smaller stages with no sound systems. This insignificant thing garnered little attention, attracting just shy of 400 people. Today, about 425,000 attended the 2017 Fest. This holds steady with average attendance over the past decade. I can tell you, the prices are high, but that seems to not affect people around there. With beautiful weather (with winds that nearly blew us away), my party and I listened to countless acts like Sweet Crude, The Dixie Cups, Lake Street Dive, and Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds. Miraculously, the stages set up around the Fairgrounds Race Course in Mid-City, New Orleans never interfered with each others’ sounds. Their music seemed to be caught in their own ecstatic, lyrical bubbles. When you walked around the Fairgrounds, you entered from one world into another–crossing the threshold of sound. For someone like me, not ever having been to a real music festival or Jazz Fest specifically, I walked through the maze of tents and booths like a lost child, finding myself jamming out to Dawes, Galactic, or Kings of Leon around every corner.
Unfortunately, I did not get to attend the Fest for the first weekend. I missed Maroon 5, Usher & The Roots, Lorde, and Harry Connick, Jr., which sounds like an amazing lineup, but, come on, I got to see Stevie Wonder and Snoop Dogg. Those were the highlights. If you’ve never seen Snoop Dogg, the one and only D-O-double G, you haven’t yet listened to live music. Honestly, I do not even listen to Snoop’s music very often. The older hits, “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “The Next Episode” (while simply featuring Snoop), are something else on the live stage. His music transcends time, space, and musical fads. “The Next Episode” was from 1999, and I was screaming at the top of my lungs the lyrics to a song that was released when I was three years old. You will never experience something like a Snoop Dogg concert where a haze lingers above the crowd and Snoop indulges in his own recreational activities on stage.
Not only was Snoop Dogg taking me down musical memory lane, but Stevie Wonder couldn’t help but push me further down that wild street. The Acura Stage was packed for the 25 Grammy Award-winning prodigy, Stevland Hardaway Morris. Because we were running around from stage to stage trying to hear everyone, we couldn’t stay for all of Stevie Wonder’s concert (HAD TO GET TO SNOOP’S). The one song that I never seem to get out of my head, the indefinite earworm, “Sir Duke,” was what I was waiting for, but sadly, it was not meant to be. Stevie arrived about 20 minutes late, so that threw a wrench in things. That being said, Jazz Fest was a great festival to introduce me to the world of constant music and food. What Jazz Fest does for the city of New Orleans is highlight its cultural music, food, and crafts for its national and international audience, almost saying, “Our culture is alive and vibrant here.” I see and hear you, NOLA. Until next time, Shaq Daddy out.