Local music culture sparks students’ careers

Ellen McCusker

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Madeline Marva is one of the many locals who thrive on attending New Orleans music festivals each year.

Marva, music industry freshman, and other New Orleans festivalgoers understand that these music festivals are a quintessential part of the city’s culture.

Ray Moore, music industries professor and a local musician, said that the music festivals in New Orleans have become just as much a part of the city’s culture as second lines and parades.

In reference to Jazz Fest specifically, Moore said that while the festival promotes major music stars, it also showcases the heritage of New Orleans and Louisiana.

“You get a lot of the cultures that gave to New Orleans. You can get there and see this whole lineage and then at the same time there could possibly be more room for artists that are local,” Moore said.

Mary Beth Maggio, music industry junior who has worked with a number of festivals around the city, said that music festivals in New Orleans and around Louisiana are also an indicator of the surrounding area’s culture.

“There are very few areas that are able to support so many music festivals,” Maggio said.

She said many festivals around the state have managed to maintain themselves after funding cuts from the state due to overwhelming support from the community.

For a certain group of Loyola students, this important piece of New Orleans culture could mean more than just a few days of good food and fun times.

According to a Jazz and Heritage Foundation spokesperson, while attention is given to big stars, over 80 percent of musicians that perform at Jazz Fest are from Louisiana. For many local musicians, this means exposure.

“Playing at music festivals is one of the best gigs a band can get, because you get paid to go there and play,” Maggio said.

While he agrees that music festivals can help rising musicians gain exposure, Moore pointed out that every festival is designed for different types of artists.

“In terms of some of the festivals, there are festivals made for local and upcoming bands and then there are other festivals designed to show national and touring acts. It’s hard to find the festival that suites your music,” Moore said.

The New Orleans funk band Naughty Professor did not seem to have a problem finding theirs, however. This Loyola-formed band of recent graduates played at Voodoo Music and Arts Experience this year in addition to several other festivals they have played outside of Louisiana.

Upon being accepted to perform at their first music festival, trumpet player John Culbreth said they were very excited.

“The festival circuit is an important one to be a part of, so the first one was welcome news because it meant people who book big events were starting to take us seriously,” Culbreth said.

As for gaining popularity from music festivals, Culbreth said that it has certainly increased the band’s fan base. He also acknowledged that bands want to perform for people that will listen, and the people that attend music festivals are there to hear music specifically.

As for Marva, she is looking forward to attending several music festivals this year, both in New Orleans and in other states.

“Whenever you are there, the way you feel — you can’t feel that way anywhere else,” Marva said.

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