Festing from Home

WWOZ Presents Jazz Festing In Place: An On-Air Festival


Perhaps one of the most unsettling aspects of the current situation of social distancing due to the coronavirus, or COVID-19, is the interruption of our traditions. Unlike Washington, DC, which runs on the legislative and election calendar, or a small farming community organized around planting and harvesting, New Orleans is a town that marks time by religious and cultural events that join people together. It isn’t spring, it’s festival season.

With each weekend that passes from our couches instead of in front of (or on) a stage, we feel a renewed sense of grief at the loss of our traditions. We are missing the annual cultural touchstones that renew our love and commitment to New Orleans – all those miraculous things that happen only here and allow us the emotional room to forgive the potholes and prepare for the storms.

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The economic impact of the cancellations on the tourism and hospitality industry, and those employed by it, are staggering. My service industry friends should be flush with cash and complaining on social media about how tired they are from their long shifts and back-to-back-to-back festival weekends. That isn’t the case, and the immediate and long-term repercussions will take years to recover from. But if New Orleanians are anything, we are resilient.

The good people at radio station WWOZ have created Jazz Festing in Place: An On-Air Festival. The eight days of programming will broadcast previously recorded Jazz Fest performances through the years. Each day coincides with the original 2020 Jazz Fest dates and will air music 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on April 23-26 and April 30-May 3.

WWOZ created special cubes to share the lineup with listeners so we can plan our Zoom meetings accordingly. Our favorites who have passed on and those we were looking forward to seeing again this year are included. You can hear Dr. John, Fats Domino, Ellis Marsalis, The Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, The Meters, Allen Toussaint, Marcia Ball, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Trombone Shorty, Kermit Ruffins, John Boutte, The Radiators, Big Freedia, Ernie K-Doe, Danny Barker, The Rebirth Brass Band, Bob French and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Lucinda Williams, Taj Mahal, Beausoleil, and many other artists. Especially exciting is the airing of the 1974 performance of Professor Longhair at the Fire Benefit, also featuring Dr. John and the Wild Magnolias, scheduled to broadcast Friday, May 1 at 6 p.m.

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The station will also be airing previously recorded interviews about the cultural aspects of Jazz Fest such as the food, crafts and heritage of New Orleans and southern Louisiana.

Another a long-standing Jazz Fest tradition, WWOZ Piano Night, will take place virtually on Monday, April 27 by streaming on WWOZ’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, and WWOZ.org. Instead of tickets, the streams will be free and people will be able to make donations if they are able. It is an important annual fundraiser for the station, so please donate if you can. Performers are recording themselves from their homes this week and those videos will be compiled for the broadcast. The lineup includes Marcia Ball, Jon Cleary, Jojo Herman, Keiko Komaki, Oscar Rossignoli, Kyle Roussel, Josh Paxton and Joe Krown. It will be hosted by WWOZ DJs Cole Williams and Missy Bowen.

The music is covered. What about the food? Some vendors are making our favorites for purchase and recipes are filling up social media feeds.

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Rumor has it that Second Line Brewing will host a popup the weekend of May 2-3 with festival-favorite Squeal’s Smoke Street Catering smokey bacon collard greens, brisket sandwich and pulled chicken sandwich, paired with a beer option to go. Watch their social media for announcements.

Prejean’s Restaurant in Lafayette is selling its pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo in frozen two-gallon bags for $75, as well as trays of their crawfish enchiladas. Is it worth driving to Lafayette to obtain them? Yes. Gas is cheap, pack a cooler with ice and hit the road. Call first though: (337) 896-3247. They are selling Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

You can also purchase a crawfish Monica kit to make at home online. Ms. Linda has a catering business that could satisfy your ya-ka-mein and porkchop cravings. Some Rouses locations carry WWOZ mango freeze and are offering grocery delivery and pickup options. Stay tuned to WWOZ for recipes of other favorites to make from home.

Wear your Jazz Fest finest, sip that homemade rose mint iced tea and let’s fest together again.




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