Search | Mostly Cloudy, 79 F (26 C) RSS | ||
Bayou St. John (12:15 PM-9:15 PM)
A music fest on the water featuring Alexis and the Samuri, Remedy Krewe, Fleur de Tease, Hot 8 Brass Band, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and more
Bayou St. John (11:00AM-1:00PM)
Pocket Aces Brass Band and Bone Tone Brass lead this year's second line, which starts and ends at Bayou Boogaloo!
Central City (1 p.m)
Second lines! Won't bow down!
Mid-City (All day)
Church and a parade to celebrate the club's 104th year
House of Blues (9:00 PM)
The Comedy Central comedian is here for some standup!
Big Top (7 p.m.)
8-16 piece traveilling circus punk troupe. Need we say more? Is there anymore to say? with Sammy Kay and the East Los Three, Dead Legends
Art Klub, 513 Elysian Fields Ave (8:00 PM)
An interactive and sparkling performance presented by Nari Tomassetti
Shadowbox Theatre (8:00 PM)
Straightforward conversational drama explores one area's gentrification through 50 years
Joe Krown feat. Russell Batiste and Walter "Wolfman" Washington
Maple Leaf (10:30PM)
Weekly gig on Oak with Krown on the organ, Washington firing up the guitar strings, and Batiste on the drums.
Hot 8 Brass Band
Howlin’ Wolf Den (10:00PM)
Weekly gig from some of the city’s best in brass
Sunday Youth Music Workshop
All ages workshop with Johnny Vidacovich. Bring your instruments!
Cajun Fais Do Do
Bruce Daigrepont is playing the washboard and getting you to bed early
Krewe du Guza
Le Bon Temps Roule (10:00PM)
Sunday Funday weekly gig from the husband and wife duo
JazzFest Increases Provisions for People with Disabilities
New seating and lower food counters are among the changes at the Fair Grounds that make sure everyone can enjoy JazzFest.
For many people thoughts of packing up the car, fighting traffic, lugging around chairs and umbrellas, and navigating a muddy or dusty track are enough to keep them from buying a ticket to Jazz Fest. Others brave these challenges because they feel it’s all worth it once they settle in front of a stage and start to groove.
For people with disabilities, however, a laid back point of view can only go so far in abating the well-known hassles of the Fest and its unique terrain. For this reason, the planners and staff of New Orleans’ biggest festival have year after year attempted to improve access and make the prospect of visiting less daunting and intimidating for its visitors with disabilities.
A staffer who did not wished to be named offered a paraphrased quote from Jazz Fest head honcho Quint Davis: “We used to say, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Now it’s, ‘You better build it, cause they’re comin’!’”
When this longtime staffer lost the use of one of his legs a couple of years ago, he was invited to participate in a different way by troubleshooting the Fair Grounds for visitors with mobility issues and monitoring the effectiveness of the results. He says that a lot of improvements have been implemented since then because “if it’s out there, it’s in here.” In other words, disabilities don’t always fall into easy classifications, and with over 400,000 visitors passing through the gates each year, the number of festival-goers with diverse special needs is larger than you might think.
Allie Aherne, a staffer who works as part of the team at the (yet to be sponsored) Access Center located right outside the Grandstand, flipped through her registration book and estimated that they had assisted between 400 and 500 people by mid-afternoon this past Sunday. She and the other team members hand out passkeys for the wheelchair-accessible port-o-potties located throughout the Fairgrounds, assisted listening devices for the Acura and Gentilly stages, and large print versions of the daily cubes. A large binder also contains schedules written in Braille.
The temporary track and footbridges that lead from the dirt racetrack to the infield are now complemented by a wider array of paths that crisscross the grass between stages and lead to reserved seating areas manned by volunteers. The Acura, Gentilly, and Congo Square stages all have large reserved areas with their own wheelchair accessible portable toilets. In past years, these areas had been placed close to the stage, but planners found that they had mistaken proximity with efficacy.
The sightlines for people sitting in wheelchairs were not good, and many had to contend with able-bodied people who stood in the way. This year, these areas have been relocated. Other volunteers sweep the track so that the sand doesn’t cause a loss of traction for people in wheelchairs, and this correspondent saw quite a few of these guys sweeping in rhythm to the music coming from the nearest tent or stage.
Everyone’s got to eat, and festival organizers responded to feedback from people in wheelchairs by lowering the counters at all food booths to facilitate the exchange of money for Crawfish Monica or Mandarin Iced Teas. Our anonymous troubleshooting staffer mentioned that the vendors are more than happy to carry a tray of food for someone to a picnic table, noting that many booths are run by restaurants who would love to win over any new customer they can. Most beverage vendors have lowered counters as well.
The festival also provides sign language interpreters for the hearing impaired, and not just for food demos or interviews. Each music stage has a designated area for these interpreters to sign the lyrics, and while they are not at every performance, special requests can be made in advance on a first come, first serve basis.
Interpreters usually work in teams and switch out every three songs to keep limber.
Rox’E Homstad, who has very limited hearing and sight, is planning her fourth Jazz Fest outing this weekend. She has used the Braille program at the Access Center, but is also able to plan her schedule via an app provided by the festival and the refreshable Braille display that connects to her laptop or smartphone. She also takes advantage of the American Sign Language interpreters during the shows.
“I use ASL tactually-- where I put my hand atop the signer’s hands. This can be very exhausting, so I usually attend two performances in a day so I can rest in between,” she said.
People with limited or no hearing can feel the vibrations from the loudspeakers the same as anyone else, but the interpreters help convey the whole experience of a show.
“Mostly the interpreters sign the lyrics, but because I'm Deafblind and can't see, they do spend time—usually between songs or during a long musical interlude with no lyrics—describing what is going on onstage, or how the performer looks or is sounding," Homstad said.
Between shows Homstad checks out both the exhibits and the craft vendors. She gets around the grounds with the help of Laveau, one of the many dogs she has trained as a professional guide dog trainer.
“I do tend to get lost quite a bit,” she told me, “but I try to make time for that and just accept it as part of the package. People are helpful if I ask for directions. My biggest problem thus far have been the people who want to pet her—usually after they've had one beer too many--and this doesn't please Laveau, so she has to find a way to get around these people.”
Music draws us in, works us, and elevates us. There are no limitations on how alive or active a song can make us feel, no impediments to how quickly a choir or band can captivate our spirits. It’s not up to the organizers of Jazz Fest to insure an uninterrupted stream of such moments, but they do a great job of providing access to whatever stream occurs.
Dead Huey Long, Emma Boyce, Ian Hoch, Sarah Esenwein, Ryan Sparks, Will Dilella, Chris Rinaldi, Lianna Patch, Phil Yiannopoulos, Cate Czarnecki, Jonas Griffin, Jennifer Abbot, Mary Kilpatrick, Elaina Patton, Mike Horst, Devin Bambrick, Katherine McGuire, Norris Ortolano, Joe Shriner
Ryan Sparks, Kerem Ozkan
Michael Weber, B.A.
Assistant Managing Editor
B. E. Mintz
Published Daily by
Minced Media, Inc.