Friday, May 02, 2008

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Reading Joe's Twitterings and the Times' ArtBeat blog coverage (Jon Pareles and Nate Chinen, having too much fun and posting ecstatic updates about it) of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this morning has been wonderful. I was lucky to go Jazz Fest 5 years in a row from '96 through 2000, though any number of events have conspired to keep me away since. Given that it's hands down one of the best music festivals you'll ever have the pleasure to experience, with amazing music, food and some of friendliest crowds around, I've really missed it. Doubly so since Katrina did its devastating best to drown New Orleans.

It does me right to know Jazz Fest, unlike so much of New Orleans, has bounced back post-Katrina. But it is, as Pareles points out in one of his posts, "precious...because it represents New Orleans’ cultural persistence–which is by no means as easy or as secure as it might look–despite all the changes wrought by Hurricane Katrina."

I'd love to see Jazz Fest broadcast more of its proceedings online. With over 10 stages playing what's almost always guaranteed to be great music, I can't help but think it wouldn't be difficult to make live streams of each of these stages available online. Currently, the local New Orleans Jazz Fest radio affiliate, the amazing WWOZ 90.7 FM, hosts 32 live broadcasts from Jazz Fest over its 7 day, two-weekend run. You can listen to those broadcasts online. But WWOZ is only broadcasting from one tent at a time, and that may not be the tent you'd be enjoying your crawfish etouffé and shuffling your feet in if you were actually at the Festival. You may be catching some high school gospel choir approaching liftoff with the help of the mighty tambourine lady in the Gospel Tent or resting your weary feet over at the Economy Hall Tent catching some old timers stirring up some Dixieland. Why not offer streams from off the boards of each stage?

I can't imagine it'd be too difficult to get some telecom to sponsor the whole set up, to put the necessary infrastructure in place and make sure it ran smoothly. Going online, the user could check out the schedule for the day, pour over all the amazing musical acts simultaneously performing on one of those 10 Jazz Fest stages, and stream whatever caught their fancy. If they liked the performance well enough, they could buy one of the CD's or downloads of the performances that Jazz Fest conveniently makes available. Everybody wins, right?

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