WWOZ Will Broadcast Archival New Orleans Jazz Fest Performances This Weekend The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and WWOZ will stream of some of the greatest performances in Jazz Fest history this weekend.
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From Ella Fitzgerald To John Boutté: Jazz Festing In Place Presents Archival Audio

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From Ella Fitzgerald To John Boutté: Jazz Festing In Place Presents Archival Audio

From Ella Fitzgerald To John Boutté: Jazz Festing In Place Presents Archival Audio

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

One of this country's greatest musical gatherings celebrated it's 50th anniversary last year. This year, stages at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival will be empty. But there'll still be music.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PROFESSOR LONGHAIR: (Singing) Me got fire me, can't put it out. Heap fire water gonna make me shout. I'm goin' down an-a get my squaw.

SIMON: The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation is delving into its vast archives and is presenting, along with community radio station WWOZ, a stream of some of the greatest performances in the festival's history. It's called Jazz Festing in Place. And Dave Ankers of WWOZ joins us. Dave, thanks so much for being with us.

DAVE ANKERS: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: The names involved here are legendary. Of course, Professor Longhair, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Domino, Trombone Shorty, Allen Toussaint, The Neville Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Toots and The Maytals - 120 acts in all. How did you decide what to include?

ANKERS: We made a wish list, and I talked to lots of our volunteer show hosts who go to Jazz Fest every year. And we went through, and we started off with a list of about 250 items, which still seemed small, considering the wealth of music that we have in New Orleans. And then we circled things - like, three times, oh my God, we have to have this thing. And time and again, people came back to, oh, John Boutte in 2006 or Ella and Stevie or the Fire Benefit with Professor Longhair. And we knew that those were key things that we had to make sure that we included.

SIMON: Well, and let me ask you about Ella and Stevie, 1977. Ella Fitzgerald and a very young Stevie Wonder. Let's hear a bit.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ELLA FITZGERALD: (Singing) You are the sunshine of my life. That's why I'll always be around.

STEVIE WONDER: (Singing) You are the apple of my eye. Forever you stay in my heart.

SIMON: Boy, that's extraordinary to hear.

ANKERS: It is an amazing performance.

SIMON: I've been told that your site crashed from too many visitors from around the world. Any sense of how many people are finding you?

ANKERS: When we started our broadcast on Thursday, in about 10 minutes, we suddenly had surpassed our Mardi Gras numbers. And then we were four times Mardi Gras numbers. But we were stunned, really stunned by what had happened in that one hour. And we realized that people all over the world really, really wanted to be at Jazz Fest.

SIMON: I gather you've laid out a kind of roadmap for people to be able to find their acts and times.

ANKERS: You can feel like you're wandering through the festival as you scroll down and you see that you've got Marcia Ball over here or Jason Marsalis or Ellis Marsalis or Irma Thomas. And you circle things on your paper schedule that you've printed out, and it's - planning Jazz Fest with these cubes is a ritual for people. You plan out your day. And people are going through the same thing, so we're able to give them that feeling of anticipation and planning for Jazz Fest, which is a big part of it, big part of the experience.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIMON: I see, for example, tomorrow 1:30 Central, you're streaming John Boutte from 2006. And that, of course, is the first festival after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to so much of New Orleans. He's singing Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" about the Great Mississippi Flood of that year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN BOUTTE: (Singing) What's happened down here, y'all, is the winds done changed. The clouds rolled in from the north and started to rain. Rained real hard, rained a long, long time. Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline.

ANKERS: That performance - I was not there, but I know so many people who were. And they say that by the end of the set, everyone was down on their knees in tears. It is frequently referred to as one of the high points in the entire history of the festival. He's responding so well. And he's working with the audience and leading the audience through this cathartic, powerful, connecting moment. It's really, really something to listen to.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOUTTE: God bless you. Thank you. Here I go.

SIMON: We'd like to go out the same way the Jazz Festing In Place, I gather, will go out tomorrow, 7 p.m. Central Time. The Neville Brothers in 1994 - they closed the Jazz Fest for years, didn't they?

ANKERS: Yeah. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is all about tradition, and for - I don't know - close to 30 years, the Neville Brothers were the closing act. And they would always end up closing with Aaron Neville singing "Amazing Grace." And then they would transition into "One Love" by Bob Marley. And it's this transcendent moment, and that's what we're doing to wrap up on Sunday night Jazz Festing In Place.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SIMON: Let's hope we can all get back to live music next year. Dave Ankers of WWOZ in New Orleans, thanks so much for speaking with us.

ANKERS: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

THE NEVILLE BROTHERS: (Singing) One love, one heart. Let's get together and feel all right.

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