The poster for the 2015 Chaz Fest, the festival's last.
Organizers have announced the end of the locals-only answer to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, a day-long neighborhood hangout that would've held its 10th annual edition this year. Chaz Fes
t — founded by songwriter Alex McMurray, Kourtney Keller and Dannal Perry and named after Washboard Chaz Leary — won't return this year
to its home at The Truck Farm on St. Claude Avenue, which is going up for sale. Organizers don't have plans to relocate to another space.
"The real star of the show was the property," McMurray told Gambit
. "Any new place would have to be pretty special. ... If there was some magical spot that appeared out of thin air, sure, we’d entertain the idea."
The festival offered Jazz Fest "rejects" a laid-back neighborhood festival on one of Jazz Fest's "off" days in late April and early May. Its 2015 lineup included Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers, The TBC Brass Band, The Lonely Lonely Knights, the Tin Men and Luke Allen, among other New Orleans artists. Tickets for the 10-hour-long event were $35, with barbecue from The Joint and, rather than Jazz Fest's miles of Miller, a hard liquor bar. Read David Kunian's 2006 story on the foundation of the fest
before its first-ever event:
Although not intended this way, the lineup reflects another idea of what New Orleans music is. All these bands play New Orleans music and have a connection to what is perceived as New Orleans music, but in the public's eye they are not identified with New Orleans in the same way that, say, the Neville Brothers or Pete Fountain are. These bands are a little below the radar, but also the bands that most New Orleans music scenesters would insist that everybody needs to know about.
"This does present an alternative view of New Orleans music," Leary says. "It's also a good idea to have stuff during the week. There's always stuff at night, but not as much during the day. Let's go eat some food and hear some music all day. That's a good idea. It's a way to make it a nine-, 10-day festival and just go nuts."