Remember the other day when I got all up on my high horse about how Jazzfest seemed to be a little more about the music and not so much the rebuilding New Orleans effort? Live Music Blog reader Matt Simpson wrote in and put me back in my place. Well done, my friend…

Don’t mistake the focus on MUSIC for a lack of focus on REBUILDING. When it comes to the Jazzfest, the two are one and the same.

People seem to think that with all the problems in NOLA right now, and with the slow pace of the recovery effort, that it’s not appropriate to go down there and party your way through a music festival. But what I found during my trip last year – just 9 months after Katrina – was that the folks in NOLA were hungry for some signs of normalcy. And as we know, “normal” in New Orleans means live music blasting from every doorway, the smells of seafood and spice in the air, and even those “HUGE ASS BEERS” on Bourbon St.

Jazzfest is the PREMIER music festival in this country. It’s not just the massive roster of talent, the round-the-clock club shows, the Crawfish Monica and the Rock ‘n Bowl. It’s the experience of spending a week in New Orleans. The city is truly unlike anywhere else I’ve been, and it’s what keeps me coming back year after year.

New Orleans needs us now more than ever. Last year’s Jazzfest was a tribute to those who were lost, and a chance for music fans to contribute to the recovery. This year’s ‘Fest offers that same chance. Instead of feeling guilty about vacationing in this battered city, look at it as an opportunity to do some good. The restaurant owners, hotel workers, cab drivers, food vendors – and even the bartenders – have been waiting all year for us.

So head on down to NOLA this year. Spend some $$. Donate to a local charity, like the Tipitina’s Foundation. And most of all just enjoy the unique pleasures that only New Orleans can offer. This city cannot fully recover if the music fans stay away.

Matt Simpson

Fantastic recommendations from a fan that’s been there. Don’t like what I have to say in the future? Tough s***, but feel free to email us anyway.