Most Important Shows of The Decade

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
04/28/06-04/30/06 & 05/05/06-05/07/06
Fair Grounds Race Course | New Orleans, LA

Photo of Bruce Springsteen at Jazz Fest 2006 in New Orleans by Michael Weintrob
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. One of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the United States, around 2,000 people died with several hundred more declared "missing." When the levees broke on August 29, 2005 water covered 80-percent of the Crescent City. With the pathetic, disorganized response from our government and the days of bedlam that followed, it appeared that America's most unique, most culturally significant city (giving birth to jazz is often considered this country's crowning artistic achievement, not to mention the food!) might be gone forever, submerged under six feet of water never to return. And that's why eight months later when the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival celebrated its 37th year it was much more than just another Jazz Fest.

No one was sure if the organizers would even be able to make the event happen, and there were serious questions about if anyone would come. What transpired was an emotional celebration that marked a critical point in our nation's history. It was a symbol of hope and a statement of purpose from the city, the musicians and the fans. 4,000 artists performed on ten stages over the two-weekend event, with headliners including Bruce Springsteen, Dr. John, Dave Matthews, Lionel Richie, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint. It was a stake in the ground that said, "We won't let New Orleans die." The massive surge of tourist dollars clearly helped, but what New Orleans needed even more was the knowledge that we cared, that despite our government's lack of commitment, the American people valued New Orleans and we would help bring her residents home. And while there is still so much more that needs to be done, we learned that no flood could drown New Orleans. Music is the blood of the city (and those who flock there), and Jazz Fest 2006 jumpstarted her heart and began the long, slow, still ongoing recovery of New Orleans. All you needed to do was step foot on the Fairgrounds that spring to know it was happening. The smell of crawfish Monica wafting in the air and the sound of The Boss singing, "We Shall Overcome" to hordes of weeping, dancing masses was enough to make us believe again. (Kayceman)

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