‘It’s really rough and being in a spot like we’re all in,’ a Jazz Fest vendor said

Local businesses helping those impacted in the hospitality industry

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - It is not the stage Mojo Triage expected to play on, but it is the only one, like many, they can book. But it is a special stage at a Mid-City warehouse helping to feed dozens of people.

"We call it Faux Fest,” Ronnie Evans, Blue Oak BBQ Owner said.“It’s like we’re doing rendition of Jazz Fest items so it’s not necessarily exactly what you’d get at Jazz Fest.”

Evans and his business partner, Philip Moseley, convert their empty warehouse into a drive-thru relief center.

“We got the Hogs Family involved,” Moseley said. “They answered the call immediately. We paired them up with a restaurant. We have about 8 hogs’ team and 10 restaurants.”

On what would have been a busy first day of Jazz Fest, the Fairgrounds is fairly empty with no music to be heard.

This would have been retired firefighter Mike Gowland’s 20th year as a Jazz Fest food vendor. "We only just do Jazz Fest and we do it as a family," Gowland said.

Instead of being on the Fair Grounds, cooking. He is at home, sitting on his front porch.

It's just rough. It’s really rough and being a spot like we're all in,” Gowland said. “There's so much isolation, there's so much uncertainty and now, again, I'm retired from the fire department now, dealing with some health issues, this is actually my only ability to make money this year."

He is able to use his pension to pay bills. Right now, he says he’s leaning on his family and his faith to get through this patch.

“Everybody is hurting not necessarily just restaurants and hospitality but everyone in New Orleans is impacted," Evans said.

While people will not be out on the fairgrounds listening to their favorite bands. The music does not have to stop.

“This Thursday through Sunday and next Thursday thru Sunday,” WWOZ General Manager, Beth Utterback, said. “Listen to the lineup, we’ve got Dr. John, Ruffin, our good friend Irma Thomas.”

The radio station dug into their archives to program a “Best Of” edition of the festival. So, for a moment, Utterback hopes to give people a little distraction from their day to day.

"The main thing -- do Jazz fest your way. We want to give people a break. A break from all the bad things that are going on,” Utterback said. “A break from all of the negative things that we have very little control over."

Faux Fest will take place daily through Monday at 3330 Gravier Street. Then start back up on April 30th through May 3, from noon to 1:30 PM each day.

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