How much of what you read on the Internet has a direct influence on your daily choices? Do you take bad restaurant reviews whining about lukewarm entrées and grumpy waiters to heart or do you dub the commenters as persnickety nobodies with too much time on their hands? Would you buy a book or attend an event just because of the abundance of Facebook “likes” and “fans” next to its link? With the Internet, especially social media, taking over how grow as a culture, interviews reviews often have a big impact on the very success of a product, event, or even a single person. In this article we will discuss how the Chaz Festival matches up with the New Orleans Jazz Festival in regards to conversations and reactions via the web.
If you’ve read any entries on this site regarding Alex MCmurray, the singer/songwriter recognized as “the embodiment of the downtown New Orleans lifestyle,”* you’ve probably heard about “Chaz Fest”—a 10 hour event of nonstop music and culture founded by McMurray to celebrate local artists unable to make the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival roster. So how does this localized grassroots gig match up to the big time event attractive to both locals and visitors from around the globe? Lets first take a look at the brief history of the festival and move into how it is has gained reputation on the Internet. (*Source: alexmcmurray.com)
Named after washboard genius “Washboard” Chaz Leary, the Chaz festival began just after Hurricane Katrina when many local artists were “frozen out” of the New Orleans Jazz Fest lineups. Many believed the big festival had slowly drifted from its roots of artistic celebration and unfortunately evolved into an over-priced and commercialized event. While many New Orleans’ artists had claimed the Thursday event days as their own, this day had been cut from the schedule all together that year. Refusing defeat, rejected artists gathered outside the fairgrounds at what is known as the “Truck Farm”: four houses of which were quickly transformed into recording studios, party venues, and concert stages for the local musicians. (These houses are owned by: Trina Shoemaker (Grammy-winning producer), Karen Brady (former manager of the legendary Kingsway recording studio), David Pirner (of the band Soul Asylum) and Jeff Treffinger (a producer and engineer.) The event has since grown into a full-blown musical festival complete with permits, volunteers, food stands, and of course great jazz music.
So is the festival just considered a success to the families and friends of the “uninvited” local musicians? Absolutely not. Whether taking a break from the crowds of Jazz Fest or skipping the big event altogether more visitors find their way into grassroots experience each year as it gains more recognition and even more coveted artists. This years event garnered great reviews:
One member of www.nola.com wrote: “Been to every one of them and its truly one of the greatest annual events we have in New Orleans…Alcohol selection is far superior to Jazz Fest.” Another remarked about the hype which has grown over the years for the event: “I’ve heard good things about this shindig, but I’ve been living away for a while and haven’t been able to get a first hand experience…that is until this year.” Some spoke of their appreciation for the laidback atmosphere surrounding the Chaz fest: “Go on by, take your shoes off, enjoy some music & meet the neighbors” only going on to point out “That, in & of itself, is a vanishing American Tradition, kept alive here by these intrepid & friendly people.”
On yelp.com, a New Orleans native wrote: “It was like paradise for hipsters young and old.” Facebook fans of the event also had their fair share to say about the event this year: as one fan wrote: “Thanks everyone for all your hard work and giving us one of the best days of the year!” as others dubbed it the best Chaz Fest to date. The Chaz Fest Facebook group enjoys 721 “likes”, 20 Facebook check-ins (this year) and 68 followers on Twitter.
If you attended Chaz Festival this year or you plan to head over for your first time next spring, make sure you to help raise awareness for the event by joining in the conversation whether its commenting on your anticipation for next years lineup, uploading a mobile photo of the event or even simply tweeting how it feels to be a part of the new Orleans musical grassroots movement.
For more information on Chaz Fest such as lineups and updates click here.
To become a Facebook fan of the Chaz Fest click here.
To follow Chaz fest on Twitter click here.
For pictures of this years Chaz Fest click here. (courtesy of Flickr and Offbeat Magazine.)