Spirit of Satchmo: Previewing the 18th Annual Satchmo SummerFest

09:14 July 31, 2018
By: Ian Cogswell

It’s that time of the year: sweltering heat, draining humidity, sweeping afternoon thunderstorms, caterpillars, termites, palmetto bugs, snowballs, Saints predictions, the sweet smell of jasmine, and the occasional whiff of hot garbage. Ah yes, summer in New Orleans, and we love every bit. 

Like all other summer certainties, the much-anticipated Satchmo SummerFest, presented by Chevron, returns for the 18th time this August 3-5 to the Jazz Museum at the Mint, once again bringing together the best food, music, and culture the city has to offer. 

Satchmo SummerFest had its start in 2001 and was meant to be a one-time tribute to the New Orleans jazz legend on his 100th birthday, but it was such a big hit that it was made into an annual event. The festival celebrates the life, legacy, and timeless music of Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and supports local musicians. The $5 daily admission helps to achieve this end as well as pay for the festival. Children under 12 get in free. 

<em>Spirit of Satchmo:</em> The 18th Annual Satchmo SummerFest

Admission also grants access to indoor attractions, such as Pop’s Playhouse for Kids (Powered by Entergy) and the Satchmo Legacy Stage, featuring discussions and presentations by renowned Armstrong scholars. 

Along with the usual suspects, eight artists are set to make their Summerfest debuts, including Grammy-winning queen of soul Irma Thomas. Always having been an admirer of Satchmo, Thomas recalls a notable encounter with the Jazz legend: “Mr. Armstrong was an influence on a lot of young children, including me. I never thought I would be in the business, but then saw him as King Zulu when I was nine years old. That parade passed right in front of my house and left such an impression!” 

The other 7 debutants are must-sees as well. Enjoy the music of Aurora Nealand & The Royal Roses, Bonerama, Doyle Cooper Jazz Band, Dwayne Burns and His New Orleans Band, James Williams, Mayumi Shara & New Orleans Jazz Letters, and Where Ya At Brass Band. 

No New Orleans summer celebration would be complete without great food and great beer. The Big Cheezy and Roux Carre join the venerated culinary lineup this year, along with returning festival favorites, such as Ajun Cajun, Café Dauphine, The Company Burger, Crêpes à la Cart, Lasyone's Meat Pie Restaurant, Palmer's Cuisine, Quintin's Ice Cream, Plum Street Snoballs, and The Praline Connection. Beer and wine lovers won’t want to miss the Abita Beer Garden, serving classic and seasonal brews, and the Sonoma Cutrer Rosé Café.

<em>Spirit of Satchmo:</em> The 18th Annual Satchmo SummerFest

Setting the stage for the three-day festival is the Kickoff Party on Thursday, August 2. John Bouttè will grace the stage at the historic Omni Royal Orleans for an evening of music, hors d’oeuvres, and an open bar. The dress is cocktail attire, and the party will honor the “Spirit of Satchmo” winners Bethany Bultman, Ellis Marsalis, and Ashlin Parker. The event also raises funds for French Quarter Festivals Inc., the organization that makes Satchmo Summerfest happen, so definitely show your support. Tickets are $65 per person or $100 per couple. 

Attend the annual Jazz Mass, followed by the Satchmo Salute on Sunday (August 5) at 11a.m.. Treme Brass Band will be providing music for the mass, and the Salute will come in the form of a second-line, featuring the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Million Dollar Baby Dolls, Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, Sudan Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Fi Yi Yi, Boe Monkey Red, and more. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the final day of festivities, to be honest. 

The 2018 Satchmo Summerfest poster is now available online. This year’s poster was painted by Lionel Milton, a native New Orleanian, who started out as a graffiti artist and is now commissioned by collectors and companies worldwide. The poster features a young Louis Armstrong and a neighborhood jazz band: a colorful and vibrant composition that reflects the energy of his music. The original painting is also available for sale at $6,500. For more information, contact [email protected]

If you wish to volunteer at this year’s Satchmo SummerFest, you’ll enjoy the following perks: free admission on the day of your shift, a limited edition collectible volunteer shirt, $10 in food tickets to be used at any food booth, and loads of appreciation from the community and festival staff. Check the website at satchmosummerfest.org/volunteer for more information and volunteer qualifications. 

<em>Spirit of Satchmo:</em> The 18th Annual Satchmo SummerFest

Also, be sure to show some appreciation for the musicians that enrich our local culture and make the festival amazing by donating. 100 percent of donations made on the website and money put in the tip jars at beverage booths go directly to the festival musicians. Show ‘em some love!

Rain or shine, the Satchmo SummerFest is a must, so make yourself a jazz playlist to get hyped, pack plenty of sunscreen, maybe a ziplock bag or two for your phone and wallet in case of rain, don your most comfortable footwear, and bring your appetite for delicious food and the best music in the world! 

For more information on the 18th annual Satchmo SummerFest, please visit satchmosummerfest.org. 

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