The air-conditioned grandstand gives Festivalgoers a chance to take an intimate look at the vibrant culture and art of Louisiana. Spanning both weekends on the west wing of the first floor, this year’s special exhibits include Allons A Louisiana – 60 years of Arhoolie in Louisiana, Backstreet Cultural Museum, and New Orleans Stomp: The Centennial of King Oliver’s Groundbreaking 1923 Recordings.
ALLONS A LOUISIANA – 60 YEARS OF ARHOOLIE IN LOUISIANA
From the beginning of Arhoolie Records, founder Chris Strachwitz documented the music and musicians of Louisiana. From traditional jazz in New Orleans and deep blues in Baton Rouge to the wonderful Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco music of Southwest Louisiana, Chris recorded and released
scores of albums highlighting the unique sounds of the state. Along the way, he carried his camera to capture the people, places, and community traditions that made Louisiana such a vibrant home for music. Allons A Louisiana takes viewers to the Jazz Fest stage, the clubs of New Orleans, and into the
homes and dancehalls of Acadiana, where Chris first encountered the music that Arhoolie shared with the world. Co-curated with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive.
NEW ORLEANS STOMP: THE CENTENNIAL OF KING OLIVER’S GROUNDBREAKING 1923 RECORDINGS
In the long and storied history of New Orleans trumpet players and kings, few loom as large as Joseph “King” Oliver. The year 2023 marks the centennial of his Creole Jazz Band recordings that then and now are some of the best example of collectively improvised, polyphonic New Orleans jazz. These recordings still influence and amaze all who hear them. Oliver moved with his family from Edgard, LA, to New Orleans around the turn of the 19th century, and he started playing as a teen with the Onward, Eagle, and A.J. Piron’s Olympia Band. He pioneered the use of mutes to make the trumpet talk and imitate animals, but never at the expense of the musicianship. He had played all over New Orleans before he moved to Chicago in 1918. It took him a few year before he put together his band of former New Orleanians that became famous playing the Lincoln Gardens and recording such tracks as “Dippermouth Blues,” “Snake Rag,” and “Canal Street Blues.” His band provided a fertile environment for his most famous protégé, Louis Armstrong, to learn and grow. Armstrong never forgot Oliver, and looked up to him and credited him for the rest of his life. This exhibit will contain photos of Oliver, 78s of these 100-year-old recordings, and recollections from Armstrong and those others who heard him and knew him. These 1923 recordings and Oliver’s role in them took jazz to another level, and this exhibit will show how and why.
BACKSTREET CULTURAL MUSEUM: A POWERHOUSE OF KNOWLEDGE
For 31 years, culture bearer and historian Sylvester Francis held court in the Grandstand, sharing his life’s work with Festivalgoers. Founder and director of Backstreet Cultural Museum, Francis would build an exhibit of carefully curated Jazz Funeral photography and memorabilia, Social Aid and Pleasure Club crafts and second line mementos. Always included were his rare recorded film footage of New Orleans’ funerals, second lines, Baby Dolls, Skull and Bone gangs and Mardi Gras Indians. Continuing his life’s work, daughter Dominique Dilling Francis carries on his legacy, exhibiting his photos and video recordings, as well as second line mementos. Located in Sylvester “Hawk” Francis Hall.