Today marks what would have been the first weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (known more commonly as Jazz Fest). Though the hallowed event, which has been a fixture in the Big Easy since 1970, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local station WWOZ 90.7 FM will keep fans grooving with “Jazz Festing In Place”.
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Pull out your festival shirts, hats, flags, chairs and get ready to celebrate the best of New Orleans music from your backyard, your front porch or your air-conditioned living room anywhere in the world as WWOZ Presents Jazz Festing In Place: An On-Air Festival! WWOZ will broadcast all 8 days for 8 hours each day– 11am-7pm, the same days and hours as the originally-scheduled Jazz Fest. Tune in April 23-26 and April 30-May 3. The schedule will include archival @JazzFest performances from Fats Domino, The Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, The Meters, Allen Toussaint, Henry Butler, Marcia Ball, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Trombone Shorty, Kermit Ruffins, John Boutte, The Radiators, Big Freedia, Ernie K-Doe, Ellis Marsalis, Danny Barker, The Rebirth Brass Band, Bob French and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, and many other jazz, blues, cajun, and zydeco artists. We’ll also be airing the rarely heard “Fire Benefit” from 1974 featuring Professor Longhair, The Wild Magnolias, and Dr. John. The 8-day broadcast will also include interview segments highlighting the music, food, crafts, and heritage of New Orleans and Louisiana to give the feeling of a wide-reaching cultural festival. We will also be sharing recipes for some of your favorite Jazz Fest cuisine, and also help you connect with local festival food and craft vendors.
The station, available to stream online, is airing archival performances from past Jazz Fests, and sticking to the event’s normal schedule, playing sets from 11:00 am – 7:00 pm CST. The programming will run through this weekend and pick back up again on 30 April – 3 May. Listeners can expect to hear such legends as Bonnie Raitt, Dr John, the Neville Brothers, Pete Seeger, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Big Freedia, Fats Domino and “The Soul Queen of New Orleans”, Irma Thomas.
This year’s Jazz Fest was scheduled to have an eclectic lineup of talent, including the likes of The Who, Foo Fighters, Chick Corea, Erykah Badu, The Beach Boys, Norah Jones, Maggie Rogers, Stevie Nicks, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Lionel Ritchie and the newly reunited Black Crowes.
Also on the lineup were the Wu-Tang Clan, who were set to perform an anticipated set with NOLA’s Soul Rebels brass band, and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux appearing with the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indians
While the virtual event won’t be quite the same as attending the festival at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds Race Course, “Jazz Festing In Place” will spotlight the city’s rich musical legacy, with a special emphasis on local talent.
One particular set to listen out for will be an airing of the 1974 “Fire Benefit”. The fabled concert was organized to help the legendary pianist, Professor Longhair, who lost his home to a fire just weeks before the fifth-annual festival. Local icons, including Dr John, Allen Toussaint, the Meters, the Wild Magnolias and Professor Longhair himself, got together to perform a benefit show to help the artist rebuild his home. The rare recording will air 2 May at 6:00 pm CST.
In addition to sets from the past 50 years, listeners can also enjoy interview segments highlighting the music, food, crafts and heritage of the region, while WWOZ will also share recipes from favourite festival vendors.
To listen to “Jazz Festing In Place”, visit WWOZ’s website.