[JPL] Strong Sales for New Orleans Jazz Fest

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Thu Apr 27 22:45:41 EDT 2006



Strong Sales for New Orleans Jazz Fest

By STACEY PLAISANCE, Associated Press WriterWed Apr 26, 1:34 PM ET

Like the city's first post-Katrina Mardi Gras and municipal election, 
turnout for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is anybody's guess.

But if early ticket sales and hotel reservations are any indication, the 
outlook is promising, said festival producer Quint Davis, noting walk-up 
ticket sales will depend largely on the weather.

The festival begins Friday and runs through Sunday, then again May 5-7.

Scheduled headliners include Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello 
and Dr. John.

While organizers wouldn't release specific figures for advance ticket 
sales, "it's about as good or better than we'd hoped," Davis said.

The annual spring fete already is proving to be a boon for hotels, in part 
because large portions of the city remain uninhabitable and many visitors 
who usually stay with friends and family are having to find alternative 
places to stay.

Part of the crunch is related to the lodging inventory: roughly 10,000 of 
the city's 38,000 hotel rooms before Katrina are still unavailable, said 
Denise Estopinal, spokeswoman for the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging 
Association.

Some hotels are booked full for both weekends.

"There are still rooms available, but everybody's booking up," Estopinal 
said. "Since there's fewer hotel rooms and the demand is there, we're gonna 
be full."

In recent days, the 1,100-room Sheraton Hotel on Canal Street had about 100 
unreserved rooms for both festival weekends, said spokesman Tommy Morel.

Morel said the Sheraton, a festival sponsor, would likely have had more 
rooms reserved if not for a block by the Federal Emergency Management 
Agency on some rooms for evacuees through early April. "We had a lot of 
rooms blocked for months," he said.

While at least one of the city's major hotels, the Hyatt Regency, is still 
closed because of storm damage, others are slowly reopening.

Le Richelieu, a quaint 86-room hotel in the French Quarter, is usually 
booked a full year in advance Jazz Fest weekends, but wind and rain damage 
caused by Katrina prevented that this year. The hotel reopened April 13 
with eight rooms, though it'll have 52 rooms available for both weekends of 
Jazz Fest.

Still, the inn had to turn away about 30 regular Jazz Fest guests.

"We're trying to get open completely, but we can't get materials in," said 
assistant manager Sandra Boling. "It's disappointing."

To give the city's musicians more exposure during the festival, the 
Sheraton is hiring several to perform at the hotel, Morel said. Among them 
are Big Sam's Funky Nation brass band and singer Charmaine Neville, 
daughter of saxophone player Charles Neville and niece of singer Aaron Neville.

___

On the Net:

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: http://www.nojazzfest.com

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.


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