New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, it is a place where generations upon generations of musicians have cultivated their unique sounds, you can feel it and hear it as you walk through the city, there is nothing else quite like it.
A few of us from Pandora were very lucky to attend this year’s Jazz and Heritage Festival and we soaked in the amazing sounds, hospitality and culture of the city. Our founder, Tim, and leader of music curation, Addi, spoke at the Sync Up conference, which is put on in conjunction with the festival. We also met up with some of our New Orleans listeners at a Sunday morning Town Hall. It was great to connect with our local New Orleans listeners amid such a musical weekend.
We had some amazing musical experiences on the streets of the city, both at and outside of the festival, thanks to a couple of wonderful local guides who quickly became our newest friends.
We attended a midnight concert at the historic Preservation Hall, featuring Preservation Hall’s own New Orleans style jazz band. Sitting on wooden benches in the small and historic French Quarter performance space, watching a band whose tradition has been carried on through the decades, it felt like we had traveled back in time. The microphone cut out early in the show and the players carried on without missing a beat and, when they brought a non-electric megaphone to sing through, we really did travel back in time!
We were lucky to have a behind-the scenes tour of The Music Box, which is “a shantytown sound laboratory.” It’s an interactive musical installation in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans consisting of several playhouse-like sized structures – a Disneyland for musicians. Each small building houses one or several instruments, some unconventional and some more recognizable.
We met a few of the artists and jammed on some of the instruments – I had to be wrangled out from behind the drum set so we could continue our tour! Later that night we learned about new genre that’s adding to the musical heritage of New Orleans: Bounce. Local artists Nicki da B and Big Freedia performed and everyone was “getting down shaking it.”
Lastly and certainly not least, this year’s Jazz Fest coincided with the first-ever International Jazz Day. The event was celebrated with performances by Herbie Hancock, Kermit Ruffins, Ellis Marsalis and several other iconic artists at sunrise at Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park. It was truly a treat top off an already music filled weekend and to be surrounded by such legendary talent so early in the morning.
I already miss New Orleans though I feel like I’ve carried an important part of it back with me and deeper appreciate what we strive to do at Pandora: provide people with music they’ll love. The power of music is strong. Thank you, New Orleans!
-Aaron (Community Manager)