A Texican in New Orleans: Lessons Learned from Jazz Fest

Have Relaxed Beer Rules: Folks could buy cases of beers if they wanted to, which they carried in either bags or coolers. There wasn't much of an intrusion at the front gates, either, which means you could smuggle in other fun stuff, too, like liquor and...you know. My bag was opened and peeked in for two seconds and I was sent on my way.

Shorter Hours, Fewer Bands: If you can see the main-stage headliner you want to see and leave before the sun starts going down, that's a win in anyone's book. The fest's two big stages, the Acura and the Gentilly, had their headliners go on by 3 or 5 p.m. each day. Sunday afternoon, the Foo Fighters were done with their two-hour set by 5 p.m., and the Eagles put all the oldsters and winos to bed on Saturday by 7 p.m.

Saturday was pretty rough with the thousands and thousands of fans camped out to hear the Eagles, which made movement near that stage an unholy bitch, but once you left the vicinity you could walk comfortably. Seriously, old Eagles fans are kind of ornery, too. Look, Don Henley won't look any better from 350 yards than he does at 400 yards.

Tents Are a Lifesaver: A handful of large tents geared towards heavy hitters in gospel, jazz and the blues came equipped with fans, seats, a/c and misting units to spritz the crowd with. Some would call this coddling your crowd, but for the gospel artists it added a church-pew vibe to the proceedings. One could space out in front of Herbie Hancock for an hour and not worry about sunblock. I spent a good hour in a gospel tent with Mavis Staples and had the time of my life.

Sell Recordings of Select Sets: This isn't a new deal at all, but it is fun to see. The festival sells recordings of some select acts that you can buy or order online later. Obviously you won't find full sets from the Boss and Petty -- that's a big profit leader, bub -- but the jammier and rootsier acts will sell their stuff, since they allow taping as it is.

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I went for the first time this year as well, on the first weekend. Had an amazing time as a veteran of ACL, SXSW, etc. it was really refreshing to see how laid back, unpolished, and genuinely friendly the crowd and festival as a whole was. Managed tickets for my fiance outside the gate of $20, $40, and $20 for the each weekend day. 7pm endings were great. The party in the neighborhood on the walk to the car was perfect for winding down easy and we had time to get back to the room, shower and relax before heading out on the town. Will be making an annual trip of this fest.


There is (or was, before Katrina) a large Vietnamese community & tradition in NOLA.

The family that owns Pho One on West Westheimer (past the Beltway) is from NOLA. They were named Best of Houston Best Pho Restaurant a few years ago by HPress.

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