New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2009
By Pamela Morgan
In 1970 when the first Jazz & Heritage Festival was held in New Orleans, with about 350 spectators and tickets at $3, they had no way of knowing what a legendary tradition they were beginning. Now, 40 years and a whole lot of music later, Jazzfest is still going and growing stronger than ever. It is no surprise, since this event embodies the culture of the city that gave rise to some of the greatest music of our time. That â€œNew Orleans cultureâ€ has allowed the celebration of all that is music to take root and thrive becoming a showcase for some of the hottest musical talents of our time.
For two weekends each spring you can binge on enough music to satisfy your music hunger for an entire year. Jazzfest has somehow maintained its spirit of community that is as obvious among the performers as it is the spectators. Forty years in the making, this festival definitely has it down. Maybe in 40 more we will be cloning ourselves and can keep up, since this is one time when the decision of what to miss is just as important as what to catch.
In keeping with the festival’s tradition, this year’s selections offered something for everyone, with 12 stages going simultaneously all day each day of both weekends, and covered a vast spectrum of music genres including performances by Joe Cocker, James Taylor, Pete Seeger, Wilco, Spoon, Dave Matthews Band, Etta James, Earth, Wind & Fire, Emmylou Harris, Ben Harper & Relentless7, Sugarland, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Kings of Leon, Bon Jovi, Dr. John and Neil Young. Sprinkled throughout the two weekend fest were special appearances from participants of that first festival and included Henry Butler, Pete Fountain, Johnny Vidacovich and Ellis Marsalis, just to name a few.