New Orleans Gears Up for Club-Based Music Fest

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New Orleans & Company CEO Stephen Perry Expects NOLAxNOLA  to grow and continue for years to come

No, there won’t be a New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in October as originally planned before COVID-19 cases began to surge again in late summer with new variants of the virus.

But there will be music!

A coalition of New Orleans’ iconic nightclubs and music venues, in partnership with New Orleans & Company, have joined forces to create NOLAxNOLA, a branded series of live music events throughout the city. The goal of this effort is to keep New Orleans’ music venues, musicians, and culture bearers strong and supported during this difficult time, while following all safety guidelines. 

Tourism industry leaders and culture bearers announced the concert series, dubbed NOLAxNOLA (NOLA by NOLA), at a press conference today (Oct. 4).

The series will run Oct. 7 – Oct. 17, the original dates of the Jazz Fest lineup, at various venues across the city. In all, there will be more than 200 shows at 35 venues across New Orleans over the 10-day period.

Stephen Perry

New Orleans & Company CEO Stephen Perry said that after the Jazz Fest was canceled, quickly followed by the cancellation of several other music events that had been scheduled for the fall, he and others began to think about ways to help music venues and musicians.

“We’ve been through hell the last 18 months, but nobody was more damaged than musicians and club owners. We thought we were putting to together a great fall. We had Jazz Fest coming back. We had French quarter fest coming back. Then we got that fateful call on Sunday when Clint announced that  Jazz Fest was not going to be able to go forward. Then French Quarter Fest falls. On that first couple of days, there are a lot of us in this room that started thinking how are we going to save the music? How are we are going to keep musicians and clubs going?”

Perry said days later, he had a phone conversation with festival producer Sig Greenebaum, from which the idea of a club-based music festival began—“a reason for people to come, musicians to play and clubs to open.”

“Here in New Orleans our music comes up from the street right. It bubbles up and lives organically in places will people can play and people can listen intimately, just yards away and enjoy that power that is New Orleans music.” Perry said. “This is going to be looked back upon, years down the line, as one of the extraordinary moments of New Orleans music. Our long-term goal is to make it something that continues for years to come.”

Celebrated trumpeter and owner of Mother-in-Law Lounge, Kermit Ruffin called NOLAxNOLA “one of the best things to happen in the city in a long time.” Mother-in-Law Lounge and musicians playing there will be featured as a part of NOLAxNOLA.

Ben Jaffe, creative director of Preservation Hall, is also excited about the upcoming series that he says celebrates “neighborhood spots”.

 “We could not have put this together in five years, but we did it in six weeks,” he said. “We didn’t have to create a festival. There is one here every weekend. There is one here every night.”

Perry said New Orleans & Company will put about $2 million to $2.5 million to help market the clubs through NOLAxNOLA as well as contribute funds directly to the venues. Each club that puts on a certain number of shows can get a $3000 grant from New Orleans & Company, Perry said. Additionally, New Orleans & Company’s website and other marketing tools have been employed to promote the clubs and events at no cost to the venue owners or musicians.

Mark Romig

New Orleans & Company Chief Marketing Officer Mark Romig provided more insight on how the new event is being marketed across the country and locally, adding that the first ads kicked off in late September.

“We’re out in the markets now with NOLAxNOLA, and we will continue this through October 15,” Romig said. “Our media markets include Austin, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Houston, Jackson, Little Rock, Memphis, Monroe, Pensacola, Mobile, Shreveport, Atlanta, and Chicago” across a variety of media platforms. “We are going where music lovers find their information.”

For a full list of NOLAxNOLA events, visit www.neworleans.com/nolaxnola/events