LOUIS JORDAN, in his classic novelty hit “Saturday Night Fish Fry,” said of New Orleans, “All through the week/it’s quiet as a mouse/but on Saturday night/they go from house to house.”
Little did he know that four decades after that tune was written, his statement would still be true.
The annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival winds up its 24th edition this weekend, with anticipated attendance of more than 350,000 again expected to certify its title as the biggest outdoor music festival in the country.
But the big news is that the music extravaganza is bringing a taste of Louisiana on the road later this year in the form of the “Festival New Orleans,” a kind of Creole Lollapalooza that will hit 16 or more cities this summer, packing eight bands, three stages and cuisine from 10 New Orleans restaurants.
The show, set to begin June 26 in Dallas, will offer music from Buckwheat Zydeco, the Radiators, Michael Doucet and Beausoleil, the Subdudes, Zachary Richard, John Mooney and Bluesiana, Evangeline, the Zion Harmonizers, Famous Rocks of Harmony and the Young Olympia Brass Band.
Food offerings at the festival are expected to include jambalaya, crawfish etoufee, red beans and rice, shrimp and catfish po’ boys.
Unfortunately, despite the presence of Bill Graham Presents as one of the promoters, the tour currently plans to get no closer to Los Angeles than Salt Lake City. Additional tour dates may be added, according to a festival spokesman , but nothing is definite.
Although fans of the Jazzfest will be happy to get another stab at its ambiance this year, the tour holds a larger place in the concert world. It may just be a glimpse at the future of summer tours. After years of treating fans to a hard plastic seat in an arena or amphitheatre, with stale popcorn and nitrate-friendly hot dogs as the most palatable food on the menu, the concert industry has apparently discovered a basic truth: Fans, particularly the baby boomers who will purchase the bulk of the tickets in the ’90s, want comfort and a family atmosphere for their $ 30 to $ 40 per ticket.
Several saavy entrepreneurs have already seen salvation in the form of these all-day festivals. Plans were announced earlier this year to launch the planned June 5-6 “Troubadors of Folk” show at UCLA on a 30-city tour, using the same combination of music, food and crafts that Festival New Orleans, the Lollapalooza Festival and the Reggae Sunsplash package have announced.
It’s just too bad that the concert industry had to lose several million dollars before it started to shift in this direction.
SPEAKING OF LOLLAPALOOZA ’93: What’s up with Alice in Chains, the headliner on a bill notable for its lack of superstar attractions? The band recently canceled the remaining dates of its U.S. tour, citing “physical exhaustion,” a condition some have viewed as a euphemism for other problems.
While no one has yet suggested the band will be unable to fulfill its obligations to the Lollapalooza Festival, scheduled to start June 18 in Vancouver, the long-term rumblings about the band — fueled in no small part by the songs “God Smack,””Junkhead” and “Sickman” from the new album, “Dirt”– have to be causing concern for the tour promoters.
THE DREAM OF moving to Nashville will come true for several Broadcast Music Inc. staffers, as the org has announced plans to consolidate most of its administrative, technical and marketing functions in the city.
According to the BMI announcement, the consolidation was made to avoid the cost of doing business in Manhattan, with the Nashville move expected to result in savings estimated at $ 50 million over 15 years.
While the back office will head southeast, CEO Frances Preston and other senior managers, along with the performing rights department, New York writer/publisher relations staff, legal, international and corporate relations departments will remain stuck in their high-priced spread in Manhattan, no doubt dreaming of the day when that $ 1,500 per month apartment will buy a mansion in Tennessee.