Venues across N.O. cash in on Jazz Fest with 'after shows'

Published: Apr. 26, 2014 at 1:54 AM CDT
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The 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is upon us.

What happens at the Fair Grounds over the seven days of the festival is the main event, drawing tens of thousands of fans each day.

"We sit at Congo Square all day. We sit at Congo Square and don't move," said Mark Boudoin, a Lutcher resident.

Suzy Whitlow from Baton Rouge said the options are seemingly endless.

"It's all the different kinds of music, all in one place," she said.

But when the masses spill out of the Fair Grounds, many continue their musical exploration.

"We're looking forward to going to Rock N Bowl (Friday night) to see Bonerama and John 'Papa' Gros and plan on having a good time," Rick Whitlow said. "We enjoy Tipitina's. We enjoy it all."

With a deep lineup of nighttime concerts across the city, the Jazz Fest spillover effect has become big business for many venues – from the Maple Leaf to The Maison, and House of Blues to One Eyed Jacks.

"Half of Jazz Fest is what goes on at night. You know, the festival grounds close early and people just storm the city and want to take in as much music as possible," said Brian Turk, Marketing Manager at The Joy Theater on Canal Street.

The Joy, which reopened in December 2011, is launching its inaugural Jazz Fest concert series this year.

Turk said the venue has a full slate of concerts every night this first weekend of the festival – beginning with Thursday's sold-out performance by California reggae/rock group Slightly Stoopid, and wrapping up with another sellout show featuring blues/rock super group The Word.

"We just jumped in and got the most diverse lineup possible," Turk said.

Friday afternoon, crews were busy setting up the venue stage for a show later in the evening featuring funk legend Bootsy Collins and New Orleans' own DJ Soul Sister.

Across the street, the Saenger Theatre marquee boasts major acts that will hit the stage for several concerts next weekend, including John Legend, Gov't Mule and an all-star tribute to legendary New Orleans artist Dr. John.

For venues across the city, Jazz Fest is peak season.

"When you're looking at your financial calendar, you're definitely weighing Jazz Fest heavy. You know, you're putting a lot of your efforts and resources into Jazz Fest," Turk said.

It's a time when the city celebrates one of its biggest assets, even more so than usual.

"I just like the music, man," said festival attendee Morris Champagne.

For a closer look at the New Orleans concert calendar, click here.

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