Director Sylvester Francis, a.k.a. Hawk Mini Camera, shares his life’s work, The Backstreet Cultural Museum, with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The exhibit includes famous Jazz Funeral photography and memorabilia, Social Aid and Pleasure Club crafts, second-line mementos, and recorded film footage of New Orleans’ funerals, second-lines, Baby Dolls, Skull and Bone gangs and Mardi Gras Indians.
Jazz Fest is golden. It has been from the start. The glimmer of the setting sun, music swimming in your ears, and the joy of being in the epicenter of such remarkable music, food and culture. 50! Five Decades of Jazz Fest exhibition is based on the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings box set Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. This joint exhibition with the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, explores the roots of the Festival with decades of posters, images and ephemera from the box set and the Jazz & Heritage Archive.
It is documented fact that one of the best music clubs in the world was founded in order for Professor Longhair to have a place to play and was named after his song (Tipitina). His “instantly recognizable” musical stylings combine stylistic and technical influences from an array of world music from rumba to Mambo, blues to Calypso. Music historians and writers from far and wide credit “Fess” as a father figure to an array of talents such as Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Huey Piano Smith, James Booker, Jon Cleary, Marcia Ball, Henry Butler, and many more. Follow the path of Fess from his early life in the lumber community of Bogalusa, Louisiana to his life in New Orleans to his lasting influence on rhythm and blues, Carnival, the Mardi Gras Indians, and the entire essence of the Crescent City. Read the tales of Fess learning his distinctive style from an old piano with missing keys to his fronting bands such as the Shuffling Hungarians to his unique view of life. The music , the philosophies, the unique styles, the hair – all of it will hit you like the horn riffs of “Big Chief” when you bear witness to the Professor Longhair exhibit: “Me Got Fiyo: The Professor Longhair Centennial.”
For more than a decade, local photographer David Rodrigue has captured the dynamic essence and singular personalities of Jazz Fest’s Louisiana Folklife Village. His images of Mardi Gras Indians, Cajun instrument makers, and Creole craftsmen both past and present tell a poignant story of cultural celebration that unfolds each year under the leafy canopy of the infield’s live oaks. Shot in color and black-and-white, the roughly fifty works invite viewers to explore the rich diversity of Louisiana’s living traditions showcased in one of Jazz Fest’s most distinctive venues.
The New Orleans Gulf South Booksellers Association’s (NOGSBA) Book Store is now located in the Grandstand. NOGSBA continues to support children’s literacy with proceeds from Jazz Fest book sales.