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Viewpoint: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is the one to Catch in 2019

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival offers the best music and culture for 50 years.

Adam Shay

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Starting April 25th and ending May 5th in New Orleans, La., the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival celebrates their 50th year as being the greatest music festival in America. Some will argue Lollapalooza, Coachella, or other music festivals triumph the rest, but I highly disagree. It is hard for me to have a view on this subject because I have never been to NOJH, but based on studying their website, I can’t imagine a festival being more significant.

I have only been to a couple festivals: Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois, and Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both festivals I am a big fan of, despite how unbearably hot they are. When I go to these festivals, I am strictly there for music and to be surrounded by screaming fans like myself. But, after learning about NOJH, the two-week long adventure seems much more than just music — it’s a learning experience with an unbelievable amount of talent. 

For starters, their lineup stacked with artists ranging in every single genre. It is unheard of to see legendary bands and artists like The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison headlining alongside pop icons, like Katy Perry and Logic. Plus, the festival has numerous renown jazz artists and tributes, like the reoccurring Revivalists and tribute bands for Buckwheat Zydeco; true and authentic New Orleans music.

The music may be the main attraction of the two-week long festival, but NOJH has incredible side attractions. Unlike Lollapalooza and Coachella, people have the chance to try authentic southern food from a multitude of vendors instead of overpriced average burgers and pizza.

The aroma of Jambalaya, Poi Boy sandwiches, and food from the Cajun Cabin Stage fill the air as New Orleans showcases their culinary traditions. All of the food vendors are brought in locally from New Orleans or neighboring towns to emphasize on the state’s rich taste. 

Most importantly from a cultural and historical standpoint, NOJH boasts multiple marketplaces in celebration of life through colors. Regional and national artists volunteer to enlighten people from around the world about their culture, beliefs, and lifestyle through arts and crafts, clothing, and jewelry with one intention: to bring joy to all.

In that aspect alone, NOJH is stands above the rest.

The difference in style, from, say, Coachella, is the amount of media attention around the fest. Grade-A actors/actresses and musicians have near branded their style of clothing at Coachella, ranging from long dresses to near tapestry gowns. Whereas for NOJH, the style is not publicized as much and has a cultural significance. 

One thing I have noticed about NOJH is their appeal to all ages. As someone who has been to Lollapalooza, I’ve noticed their demographic is for ages 16-25 due to their mainstream headliners and genre-based stages. There is nothing wrong with that because it brings people overwhelming enjoyment. NOJH has much more to offer than sweating in a mosh pit of thousands of people.

Smashing into people for pure entertainment is not a top priority at NOJH, but to enjoy the atmosphere of locals, envisioning yourself in a different world, and surrounding oneself with unique opportunities, such as trying new food or purchasing paranormal Esq items.  

My day will come when I get the chance to visit NOJH, and I know it will exceed my expectations, but it’s something I’ll need to save up for. With great festivals come great prices. Single day passes cost $70, which is fairly close to festivals like Lollapalooza. NOJH does offer package deals, ranging from $1,700 with three nights for two people, to a steep $4,800 for a Four Night Inter-Continental New Orleans Hotel Big Chief V.I.P Pass Travel Package for Two People.

But for now, all music, culinary, and cultural fanatics should take advantage and visit the best festival in the United States.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Adam Shay is a graduate from Eastern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, During his four years at EIU, he wrote for the Daily Eastern News for two and a half years, covering multiple sports, news events, and writing feature stories. He was also on the rugby club team for two years, a member of the Society of Collegiate Journalists, and finished third in applying for his commencement speech. Currently, he runs a public relations system for a bar in Palatine, Illinois, and in his free time, he is always learning about music, sports history, and American history.

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