26K+ Attend 1st Satchmo SummerFest In Jackson Square

Photo by Zack Smith
Brass-A-Holics Saturday Evening Performance on the Cornet Restaurant Red Beans & Ricely Yours Stage

NEW ORLEANS – French Quarter Festivals, Inc. dramatically reinvented its annual Satchmo SummerFest in 2016 with a major venue change to iconic Jackson Square. The event celebrates native son, Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong on his birthday weekend, and features traditional jazz performances by some of New Orleans' finest musicians along with special guest artists.

         Throughout the weekend, a number of unique performances took place on the Festival's stages including sets by Victor Goines (festival debut) and Catherine Russell (festival debut), along with local favorites like the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.

         Dozens of tributes to Pete Fountain took place throughout the weekend, both on music stages and at the Satchmo Symposium. Some of the very moving homages to Fountain included Yoshio Toyama's set with clarinetist Tom Fischer on the 'Red Beans and Ricely Yours Stage', and Festival headliner James Andrews dedicated his entire set to honor Pete Fountain. The Satchmo Symposium quickly adjusted the schedule and added multiple screenings with rare footage of Pete Fountain playing with Louis Armstrong, including an appearance on the Mike Douglas Show in May 29, 1970. 

         Throughout Festival, musicians also paid tribute to the beloved Jo 'Cool' Davis, longtime emcee and doorman at Tipitina's and well-known Gospel singer, who also passed over the weekend.

         The 16th annual Satchmo SummerFest presented by Chevron attracted over 26,000 fans, including visitors from as far Sweden, Japan, England and all over the United States. Attendance numbers were lower than 2015 because of unprecedented rainy weather forecasts for the weekend, and a rare tornado touchdown in the nearby Treme neighborhood the day before Festival opening. Although the weather reports were grim, Satchmo SummerFest enjoyed picture perfect weather all three days of Festival. On Saturday, the cloud cover created a wonderful drop in temperature and breezes throughout the Festival and the city. Festival goers enjoyed picnicking in Jackson Square on the lush grass, and under the covered picnic tables throughout the park.

         Louis Armstrong grew up in one of New Orleans' poorest neighborhoods, an area known as 'Back o' Town.' Throughout his career, he entertained millions from heads of state and royalty to the kids on his stoop in Corona, New York. Despite his fame, he lived a simple life in a working-class neighborhood. The man known around the world as 'Satchmo' was widely recognized as a founding father of jazz, a uniquely American art form. His influence as an artist and cultural icon is universal, unmatched, and very much alive today.

         Armstrong was a charismatic, innovative performer whose improvised soloing was the main influence for a fundamental change in jazz. One of the most famous musicians of the 20th century, he was first known as a cornet player, then as a trumpet player, and toward the end of his career he was best known as a vocalist and influential jazz singer. The nickname 'Satchmo' is short for 'Satchelmouth.' In 1932, Melody Maker magazine editor Percy Brooks greeted Armstrong in London with "Hello, Satchmo!" and the nickname stuck.

         Satchmo SummerFest presented by Chevron is produced by French Quarter Festivals, Inc., the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which also produces French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron in April and Christmas New Orleans Style in December. French Quarter Festivals, Inc. promotes the Vieux Carré and the City of New Orleans through high quality special events and activities that showcase the culture and heritage of New Orleans.

         The 2017 Satchmo SummerFest is scheduled for August 4-6 (with Opening Day falling on what would be Louis Armstrong's 116th birthday).

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