As New Orleans Jazz Fest looks at 50, a milestone it’ll hit in 2019, it also must face the fact that it’s essentially cycled through a full generation of performers, and also of audience. The Louisiana music icons it was launched to celebrate have begun to submit to the passage of time, and the fans who first showed up to support them may be less thrilled about long days in the sun — or the arrival of acts like Lorde, Kings of Leon and Meghan Trainor, all of whom played the 2017 festival this spring. If Jazz Fest were a person, it would be in late middle age, winding down a bit, less up for a party — but of course, that’s not how festivals work. Each year, its organizers have to consider how to attract new fans, book acts that reflect its spirit, and maintain its symbiotic, passionate relationship with America’s most eccentric city.
Photo: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Caption: A second-line parade at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, one of many sights underlining the event’s place-based identity.