I just returned from my annual trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest), a seven-day (over two weekends) celebration of music from around the world. Although I’ve been to many music festivals during my long history in the music business, I’ve never found anything that even comes close to the experience of Jazz Fest. I’ve been attending for over 30 years and every year I find something new and exciting.
Let me tell you a little bit about Jazz Fest. First, the name is somewhat misleading. Jazz is only one of the music genres offered. Others include blues, R&B, rock, soul, funk, alternative, Cajun, gospel, country, rap, and world music. There are 12 stages – from large outdoor ones that can accommodate tens of thousands of people to smaller tents that hold a few hundred. It’s a juried festival so you’ll only hear quality music. Many of the regional bands play almost every year. The festival is located on a racetrack and runs from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and the acts perform for about an hour – longer for the more ‘famous’ people – in each venue. And all the acts start and end on time. A rarity in the concert scene.
During my early years at Jazz Fest I bounced around from stage to stage, taking in a few songs then moving on. But now I have my favorite acts – most of them New Orleans style music – which I catch every year. To give you a flavor of this year’s Jazz Fest, the lineup included big names like Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Alabama Shakes, Usher, Snoop Dog, Dave Matthews, Tom Petty and Meghan Trainor, to old timers like Earth, Wind & Fire, Dr. John, the Preservation Jazz Hall Band and Herb Alpert. I typically stay away from the big names, instead searching for those ‘unknown’ bands that play great music whatever the genre.
Not only does Jazz Fest have great music, it also has exceptional Louisiana style food and regional crafts. Some of the best restaurants in the city offer their signature dish at food booths scattered around the fairgrounds. Each food booth specializes in one or two items, and the prices are reasonable so you can sample lots of it. The crafts are mostly original, and range from clothes and jewelry to art and home décor.
Jazz Fest is an incredible product. It has great music that people want to listen to. It has delicious food that people want to eat. It has beautiful crafts that people want to buy. It also has adequate security, clean toilets, sufficient signage, and a great price to see so many quality acts. One major downside to Jazz Fest can be the weather. It can be hot and humid, and when it rains the grounds become very muddy and smelly (remember it’s a racetrack).
Jazz Fest has plenty of customers that are willing to spend their money, not only on tickets to the festival, but also on food and drink, and crafts. So when you have a great product and lots of customers, you have a successful business.
I am already planning my trip next year. If you want to know more about Jazz Fest check out their website – www.nojazzfest.com. The 2018 lineup comes out in January. Or better yet, shoot me an email. I would love to talk to you about Jazz Fest. If you love music, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Barney Cohen, President
Business 360 Northwest