I am one of those people who truly loves JazzFest. I get a brass pass every year and go every day, even if it’s late after a final or something. It’s just one of my favorite things. Quint gets crap from people for his scheduling, and I certainly have my beefs, but I think they do a hell of a job most of the time. But here’s the deal:
Cyril Neville has forfeited his choice to play the Fest. Here’s the letter I wrote (had to be paper; can’t find an email address for him) to Quint Davis, the president of Festival Productions, Inc, and the guy who wields most of the power in scheduling:
Dear Quint et al.,
Cyril Neville should not be allowed to play JazzFest. You guys put on the greatest musical event in the world, and this guy, who has profited for years from the New Orleans mystique, has turned his back and insulted our city with no remorse. Please remember this excerpt from an interview (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20051215/ai_n15948897):
There’s nothing there. And the situation for musicians was a joke. People thought there was a New Orleans music scene — there wasn’t. You worked two times a year: Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest. The only musicians I knew who made a living playing music in New Orleans were Kermit Ruffins and Pete Fountain. Everyone else had to have a day job or go on tour. I have worked more in two months in Austin than I worked in two years in New Orleans.
A lot of things about life in New Orleans were a myth.
This is from another interview (http://www.cubanow.net/global/loader.php?&secc=4&cont=show.php&item=696):
“New Orleans is dead, man. It’s dead,” the singer-percussionist says, sitting on a red couch in an otherwise drab South Austin apartment complex where he has lived for the last month.
“Don’t get me wrong. I love New Orleans. But the New Orleans I loved was gone long before the storm hit.”
“I like it here in Austin; musicians here look out for each other and people treat us the way we were supposed to be treated in New Orleans but weren’t. The good thing that’s come out of all this is I’m now in a city that actually cares about musicians.”
This member of the Neville Brothers has gravely insulted our city and, by extension, your superb work in the New Orleans music scene. When people like Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, and Dr. Michael White are still spreading the gospel of New Orleans and its soul, Cyril says the place isn’t worthy of his efforts (at least until now that so many have poured so much into the recovery). He’s entitled to his opinion, but he sure as hell shouldn’t be invited to play the Fest.
I never miss a day of the Fest, and I’ll be hitting a different stage during his set, to be sure. But I’m just disturbed that the guy even gets to be there. I’m inclined to put on some kind of protest to remind people what he really thinks of us, but I don’t want to kill the great positive vibe that the Fest always has. I hope you’ll think about rescinding his invitation because his presence there will have just that negative effect.
Thanks, and I’m looking forward to another phenomenal festival!