[JPL] Jazz Fest comeback is music to N.O. Ears
Jazz Promo Services
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Tue Apr 15 11:33:10 EDT 2008
http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/2008-04-14-jazz-fest_N.htm Jazz Fest
comeback is music to N.O. ears
Jazz Fest comeback is music to N.O. ears
By Rick Jervis, USA TODAY
NEW ORLEANS To Angelo Brocato, the upcoming New Orleans Jazz & Heritage
Festival isn't just about good music. It's also an important harbinger of
the city's recovery.
Knocked out by 5-foot-tall floods following Hurricane Katrina in 2005,
Angelo Brocato's Italian Ice Cream & Italian Desserts shop didn't have a
booth during the 2006 and 2007 versions of the world-renowned music
festival. Those were the first years that the 103-year-old company didn't
participate in the festival, known locally as Jazz Fest, since it was
created in 1970.
"We weren't ready to go to Jazz Fest," said Brocato, whose grandfather
started the business. "It was slow coming. But now we have all our
equipment, and the shop is back. We figure we can handle it."
Jazz Fest is the latest in a series of high-profile, money-generating events
in New Orleans this year that included the Sugar Bowl, NBA All-Star Game and
Mardi Gras. The music festival, which starts April 25, is one of the largest
and most important events in the city, said Mary Beth Romig of the New
Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Festival attendance dropped from 400,000 in 2005 to 300,000 in 2006,
festival officials said. Last year, 375,000 people attended over six days
and spent an estimated $300 million across the city.
This year marks the first time since the storm that a seventh day will be
added. The extra day cost the festival $1 million but was needed as a sign
that the festival and the city was returning to normal, said Quint
Davis, Jazz Fest's producer/director. It's also the first time the Neville
Brothers, New Orleans's "musical first family," return to perform since the
storm, he said.
"It was very important to get back whole again as soon as possible," Davis
said. "You can't make that claim if you're sitting there with no Neville
Brothers and one less day."
When Bayona restaurant in the French Quarter opened its reservations for
May, it took just five hours to completely book the final weekend for Jazz
Fest, floor manager Puck Hopkins said.
Stronger crowds around Jazz Fest is helping city restaurants out of the
economic gloom experienced since Katrina, he said.
Jazz Fest's crowds are also better at spending money, he said.
"It's definitely something we look forward to," Hopkins said. "Mardi Gras is
chaos. Jazz Fest is controlled chaos. It's not necessarily folks chasing
Mona's Café had six locations around New Orleans before Katrina. Today, they
have four, after the floods destroyed all their Middle Eastern cuisine
restaurants. They did not have flood insurance. Mona's has had a booth at
Jazz Fest since 2006, co-owner Karim Taha said.
The first year after the floods, attendees came because they were
sympathetic toward the city's plight, he said. In 2007, there were also
people who tried to support the city. This year, he believes the crowds will
be talking less about Katrina and more about the music and food a sign
that the city is returning to normal. "People from outside Louisiana are
starting to forget about Katrina," Taha said. "Hopefully, they'll be more
focused on the food."
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