French Quarter Festival, Inc. is again welcoming another beautiful celebration of food, music, arts, and fun. The thirteenth annual Satchmo SummerFest is set to take place August 1-4 in the French Quarter at the Old U.S. Mint, and will include a full weekend of special events, vendors, and local bands from around the city. In commemoration of one of New Orleans’ greatest heroes, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, the event will host a variety of traditional jazz, contemporary jazz, brass music, and other musical performances in dedication to this great musician, singer, and loveable entertainer. Born in New Orleans in 1901, Louis Armstrong endured a childhood in a poor neighborhood known as “The Battlefi eld”. Having quit school as a youth in order to work, Armstrong often sang as he labored, honing his signature voice. During his stay at the Colored Waifs’ Home for Boys from 1912-14, he learned the cornet and developed his thirst for a career in music.
By 1922, he had become a well-known musician in New Orleans and was invited to move to Chicago to join King Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band. Eventually, Louis felt his best interests were to be a solo artist, and finally, in 1925, OKeh Records in Chicago gave Armstrong a record under his own band name, Louis Armstrong and the Hot Five. Eventually making over sixty records with the Hot Five, and later the Hot Seven, Armstrong inspired jazz to new heights, allowing the genre to become a soloist’s art versus being limited to group ensemble.
Free to develop his own personal style, Louis Armstrong continued to move people throughout his outstandingly successful career as a soloist and bandleader, paving the way for African-Americans to be prominent fi gures in the entertainment industry. Even as late as the 1960s, Armstrong was making hits with his title track for the hit Broadway production, Hello, Dolly!, which reached Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Years later in 1971, the great leader would gently pass away in his sleep, leaving behind a memorable legacy that would last lifetimes beyond his years. His music and fi lms still inspire many, and his life accomplishments have earned him monuments around the world. In his home city, the Louis Armstrong International Airport gives a warm welcome to travelers from all around the world as they enter New Orleans, perhaps for the first time in their lives. In the Treme, Louis Armstrong Park provides a picturesque setting forever enveloping the essence of Congo Square inside its gates.
In this same way, the thirteenth Satchmo SummerFest carries on the smiling legacy of Louis Armstrong in true Big Easy fashion. The festival throws an annual Louis Armstrong Birthday Party, a Satchmo Art Show, a Sunday morning Jazz Mass in the Treme that includes a traditional second line parade, and tops off every year with a Trumpet Tribute featuring famous players from around the city.
Seminars on a variety of topics are also held all weekend long. In the early afternoons on both Friday and Saturday is the My Friend Satchmo seminar, in which longtime companions of Armstrong share their intimate perspective on the treasured artist, a presentation enhanced by audio and visual archives from the Louis Armstrong House in New York. Other seminars include Gleanings From the Groove: The Exciting Music of the King Oliver Creole Jazz Band on Friday at 3 p.m., which includes discussions on the importance of this group in the development of Armstrong’s playing, as well as jazz as a whole. Cinematic Satch offers an afternoon cool-off on all three days of the festival, when attendees can view rare footage of the trumpeter on T.V., in concerts from Europe, and in his over thirty major movie appearances.
Other interesting seminars are available starting in the afternoons Friday through Sunday. Embodying Louis Armstrong himself, the thirteenth annual Satchmo SummerFest offers its audiences the music he loved, the food he cherished, and the people he adored. On the second fl oor of the U.S. Mint, they will even have his own cornet on display, an item as much a part of Satchmo as anything else in the world. For more information, music listings, vendors, and more, please visit FQFI.org/SatchmoSummerFest.