We've celebrated the return of our city's cuisine and Mardi Gras. With the 37th annual Jazz & Heritage Festival, we can raise our hands in celebration over the return of our music at the Fair Grounds.
By Count Basin (TM) with help from Alison Fensterstock, David Lee Simmons, Billy Thinnes and Samuel H. Winston Photo by Scott Saltzman Will we ever really be back as a city until we have our music back? The city that has defined the meaning of jazz -- of roots music, really -- and which examined the meaning of the African Diaspora has been struggling to understand an entirely different diaspora: that of ourselves. We have been rendered displaced, homeless, even jobless, yet slowly but surely, we are coming back both literally and figuratively.
Nowhere in New Orleans' culture is that signal more telling than when the music and the musicians come back, and if the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell offers anything, it's a chance to mark a return on a grand scale. And I, Count Basin (TM), am ready to welcome back this music that comes from the streets and fills our households, our clubs and, for two glorious weekends, the rehabilitating Fair Grounds.
With Mardi Gras, New Orleans proved that it could celebrate that which made it a great city while grappling with the daunting task of rebuilding. We know no other way than to raise our hands in work as well as play, hammering nails or clapping for our favorite music acts.
We also recognize that, like Mardi Gras, the Jazz Fest of years past won't be the same. There are fewer acts than last year, and the lineup might not be as dynamic as it could be. But it is a chance to welcome back some of the most popular guests of recent years, whether it's Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Jimmy Buffett, Koko Taylor, Hugh Masekela, the Dave Matthews Band or a leaner, meaner Etta James. There's also a chance to see Bruce Springsteen in a different light, with his Seeger Sessions Band, and a chance to catch the Meters reunion you might have missed last year (pity if you did!). Some of the stages have been renamed and/or reconfigured, but no matter where you go and no matter what a stage is called, music will be there. For that, we're forever grateful. Here's to the musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina making this a permanent return.
2006 Jazz Fest 2006 Index
Alison Fensterstock on Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Michaelangelo Matos on the Bob Dylan Industry
Samuel H. Winston on the Soul Rebels
Scott Jordan on Dr. John
Josh Johnson on the subdudes
Julie Pinsonneault on Ani DiFranco
Cynthia Joyce on Hugh Masekela
ON THE COVER:
Collectors of this poster series know the name Michalopoulos very well. Acclaimed as the premier artist of and in New Orleans, his studies of the architecture and people that make the City unique are remarkable for their technical prowess and for their emotional verity. His iconic Jazz Fest series has defined legends in compelling works of definitive visual mastery. His 1998 portrait of Dr. John is a recognized classic and his 2001 portrait of Louis Armstrong remains the most sought-after (and valuable) print produced in this series in over a decade. Michalopoulos' portrait of Fats will be equally embraced. With a richly-colored sampling of the graceful buildings that line the old city drawing the viewer's eye towards an improbably balanced Fats pounding and tickling his piano into submission, this work sums up the man, his city, its music and their place in our hearts.
The name "Count Basin" and the Count Basin character are a registered service mark of Gambit Communications Inc. All rights reserved.