Jazz Fest reveals 2017 “cubes” and posters

With one month before the annual celebration of New Orleans music and culture, the stage lineups for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival were revealed this morning at a spirited press party at the New Orleans Fairgrounds.

This year’s festival, the 48th in a row, celebrates the music of Cuba and fittingly the musical entertainment was New Orleans’ own Cuban band, AsheSon. The group, which now features the wonderful Cuban native Alexey Marti on congas, played a couple of tunes as a very excited man waved a Cuban flag, hooted and hollered.

Quint Davis, the producer/director of the fest, explained the detailed process in dealing with the communist government of Cuba. Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu got involved and set up a meeting with diplomats over two years ago.

Though former President Obama gradually began the process of restoring relations between the two countries, some of what the festival’s planners had in mind might not necessarily have been legal at the time.

Davis called it, “a heroic effort two years in the making.” With President Trump’s administration cracking down on visas to the United States, let’s hope more heroics aren’t needed to get the Cuban musicians to New Orleans.

After brief remarks from a quartet of city council members and other movers and shakers, the official posters were revealed. The main piece of art by Francis Pavy features the original Meters. It’s pictured at top. The Congo Square poster by Brandan “B-Mike” Odoms features The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader and native son, Jon Batiste.

The Bayou Wear clothing this year will be a keepsake for many of the festers in attendance particularly readers of TVD since the shirts, dresses, and skirts feature record albums.

On to the cubes! Davis mentioned that for the first time the Cultural Exchange Pavilion, which celebrates Cuba this year, has it’s own slot bringing the number of “official” stages to thirteen. The intimate space is one of the best kept secrets at the Jazz Fest.

Many of the Cuban bands that will play in the small tent are also booked on the Jazz and Heritage stage and a few will be appearing on the larger stages as well. Case in point, percussionist Pedro Martinez will play at 2 PM on opening day on the Congo Square stage and then appear in the pavilion at 4:30 PM.

On the first Sunday, Telemary y Habana Sana will precede Elle King and Lorde on the giant Gentilly stage and then close out the tent at 4:40 PM. I suspect the kids waiting to hear Lorde will be in for quite a surprise. But that’s the beauty of Jazz Fest!

Stay tuned to TVD over the next month for previews and picks. The full schedule is here.

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