Inside the Blues Tent Sunday afternoon, fans enjoyed another classic Jazz Fest set by a homegrown talent, as bluesman Walter ‘Wolfman Washington belted out songs spanning his decades-long career.
As he left the stage, Washington expressed pride in how far the local music scene has come and where he thinks it’s headed.
"It always has been such a wonderful thing to see the young cats coming up today that's really keeping the tradition of New Orleans music going," he said.
These days, those in the local music industry are getting a boost, some believe, thanks to the state's tax credits for sound recording.
Created in 2005, ‘Sound Recording Investor Tax Credit program gives artists who choose to record in Louisiana a 25 percent rebate on eligible expenses for projects costing more than $15,000.
The rebates cover expenses like studio fees, hiring session musicians, and even travel to Louisiana for those coming in from out of state.
"The Rebirth Brass Band used it for their last record and they won the Grammy and we've had some major artists like the Dave Matthews Band, of course a lot of local artists who are at Jazz Fest right now," said Philip Mann, the state’s director of live performance and music industry development.
Mann said the lineup of artists who have taken advantage of the program also includes R.E.M., Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Trombone Shorty among others.
Officials point out -- studios, producers, sound engineers and others are cashing in on the benefits too.
Jazz trumpeter and band leader Irvin Mayfield, another New Orleans favorite, said it’s a key step in a state whose music is celebrated across the world, despite a lacking infrastructure.
"All these incentives help us build a thriving economy and industry around music," Mayfield said."We've been the ones who have been creating the music for the last 300 years, however, we've seen these other cities pop up with recording studios, publishing groups -- things centered around the business aspect of the music and we haven't really put enough time, enough investment in that infrastructure of the business."
The recording tax credits are capped at $3 million each year, currently.
However, Mayfield said many in the industry are keeping a close eye on the current legislative session in Baton Rouge, where lawmakers could decide to make changes to statewide tax incentive programs.
"I guess everybody's biting their nails right now, hoping that we make it through the legislative session unscathed," he said.
In the meantime though, officials are reaching out to more artists, in hopes of building more momentum.
"This is something that, in the state and obviously the city of New Orleans, people have been really eyeing for a while -- growth in the music industry," Mayfield said."Dollars, dollars, dollars is the story of the tax. We want to keep those things moving. We wanna keep the explosion happening."