Sunday, May 11, 2008

$50 a ticket - too steep or worth the price of admission?

Big Chief Bo Dollis, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, and one of the Wild Magnolias Indians behind us - at least my eyes are open in this shot - thank you Erika Goldring for the great pic!

"I think that in some ways the festival has gotten too big and too commercial. I would like to see more emphasis on going out and finding more people like Bongo Joe, or the Como Fife and Drum Corps. The rise in ticket prices tends to discourage attendance from the black community - you really don't see a lot of black people out there...." Doratha "Dodie" Smith-Simmons, 1991

Sound familiar? This was quoted in the foreword to the book, New Orleans Jazz Fest - A Pictorial History, by Michael P. Smith, almost 20 years ago.

Comments? Feelings? I know I personally found it difficult to come up with that scratch for all of the days at the fest - thank you to the festival for my press pass and Holly and Kathy for hooking me up on other days. But I can imagine that locals find it challenging.

However, the incredible amount of talent, the stunning performances that had me stuck at a stage when I had every intention of moving on to another one but simply couldn't tear myself away - like the Lee Boys or Diana Krall - well there aren't many places to hear and see that level of quality, passion, musicianship and virtuosity. Except maybe other festivals but I never go to any others so I don't know. And anyway I have to hear all my N.O. peeps so I don't think the Berne, Switzerland fest would do it for me completely. And yes I know the sound isn't always great - it was WAY too loud at the gospel tent - even I who sing and love gospel music couldn't handle it most of the time this year. But overall the groups and artists we saw were well-miked, had great bands, jammed and gave their heartfelt performances as they always seem to do in New Orleans.

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