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'Totally ready for it ' New Orleanians dream of Jazz Fest's return

“For Jazz Fest, I personally miss it not just as a musician, but as a participant someone who loves the experience of Jazz Fest,”

NEW ORLEANS — Paul Sanchez and John Rankin have gotten together once a week during the pandemic to play music and sing songs. 

In a normal year, instead of Rankin’s front porch, they would be at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival either performing on stage or enjoying opening day of the fest. 

“Jazz Fest is a big part of my life and my wife’s life,” Rankin said. “So, it’s a big hole when it’s not on.” 

“The weather is so beautiful this is like the day you live for,” Sanchez said. “My first Jazz Fest was selling beer in a beer booth and I got to see Pete Seeger and Odetta. I would like to see Jazz Fest continue.” 

The Jazz Fest canceled last year because of the Coronavirus. 

This year, the event is postponed until October. 

Sanchez, a solo artist and the founding member of the band Cowboy Mouth said organizers are closely watching global pandemic numbers. 

“They are not watching the numbers in New Orleans only because it’s not going to be New Orleans people, it’s going to be people coming from as far away as Australia,” Sanchez said. “I think they all want to do it, but I think everybody is trying to err on the side of caution and hold off on formalizing any contracts or booking any acts for sure until they can be safe as they can.” 

The Vaucresson family has been a Jazz Fest food vendor for more than 50 years. 

Their sausage po-boys are world-famous. 

Vance Vaucresson said he misses the excitement. 

“We would be last-minute preparation,” Vaucresson said. “We’d be bringing some of our last deliveries out to the festival and putting them in dry storage and cold storage.” 

Vaucresson will be part of a Jazz Fest food pop-up event at Press Street Station in the Marigny on Friday. 

“Just to give you that taste of what you’re so used to at this time of year,” Vaucresson said. 

Sanchez and Rankin said if Jazz Fest can pull it off in October, it will mark a rebirth of New Orleans culture after more than a year of Covid shutdowns. 

“For Jazz Fest, I personally miss it not just as a musician, but as a participant someone who loves the experience of Jazz Fest,” Rankin said. “I am totally ready for it. I love Jazz Fest and I know so many people do in this city. I can’t wait.” 

“The energy is in the air,” Sanchez said. “People want to hug and love and touch again. There’s no better way to consummate that then in the Jazz Fest.” 

A spokesman for the Jazz Fest said the dates are still October 8-17. 

No other specifics have been announced.

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