This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The recession and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico hit New Orleans hard, and that was after Katrina. The population has yet to return to pre-hurricane levels. Some houses lie empty, some properties abandoned, and the city continues to suffer from crime and unemployment.
Nicholas Payton is one brilliant musician. He plays just about everything on the bandstand very well. He’s best known for his trumpet work but is also a dynamic keyboard player, and even manages to play superbly on both at the same time.
In recent years Payton has added another tool to his kit: singing.
A little rain couldn't keep tens of thousands of people from descending on the New Orleans Fair Grounds for the second weekend of Jazz Fest, 2013. We captured a slice of life at the Fest this past Thursday.
Music isn't the only thing that draws people to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival each year. The astounding variety of food all in one spot is one of the biggest pluses for locals and visitors alike.
Do you have your own Jazz Fest food favorite? Did we miss something important? Let us know in the comments below.
Helen Regis is a cultural anthropologist who has been studying the Jazz and Heritage Festival for 10 years. In some ways, she says, you can think of the Jazz Fest as a city.
“The people who build the festival every year — the construction crew, the electricians — feel like they’re building a city. They do. It’s this physical infrastructure. It has lights. It has plumbing. Sort of.” Regis says, in some ways, it’s kind of a fantasy city. "In some ways it looks like New Orleans, but it’s not."
With nearly 70 food vendors and over 200 dishes, Jazz Fest isn’t simply a music destination, it’s a foodie paradise. But that makes vendor selection and organization an arduous task.
Fortunately, just the right woman is leading the process. Michelle Nugent has been the Jazz Fest Food Director since 1999 and has a culinary résumé befitting a world-class chef. She spent 17 years working with chef Susan Spicer, first as an apprentice, then as Bayona’s sous chef, and finally as the executive chef at Spice Inc.
The Show “One Mo’ Time” went from humble beginnings as a homemade New Orleans labor of love with a single scheduled performance to a worldwide theatrical sensation that ran for years. Its creator, New Orleans actor Vernel Bagneris, has loved the idea of putting on a show from way back.
“Cousins of mine still laugh at the fact that they used to come over and I’d put on a show for them and play a little accordion and single a little bit with the few chords I knew on a piano and do plays and make them all do parts,” Bagneris remembers.
The second weekend of Jazz Fest kicked off to a soggy start today with festival goers donning ponchos and rain boots. In the spirit of locals’ day, I spoke to a festival veteran who has weathered his fair share of Jazz Fest storms. Chuck Blamphin began working as a stage manager 40 years ago and currently oversees the Fais Do Do stage. Needless to say, he has seen the festival undergo some significant changes throughout his storied tenure.