In a better world, I’d be just back from New Orleans. Every spring since 1989, I’ve attended at least one weekend of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Jon has joined me since 1993). This annual festival — always the last weekend in April and the first in May — has, since 1970, celebrated not just the namesake music but also, truly, the heritage. With its mind-boggling array of food booths, crafts, and demonstrations packed onto the Fair Grounds Race Course, the event presents this multicultural city in a nutshell. Despite the usual gripes — the crowds have grown too big, too many headliners have nothing to do with the Crescent City (this year would have brought The Who), the ticket prices have gone up astronomically — it’s still reliably wonderful, and I was always happy to pack in with the something like 200,000 annual visitors. Until, of course, we couldn’t.
Because even before we grabbed another bowl of Prejean’s awe-inspiring pheasant, duck, and andouille gumbo, the Fest, as it’s known, always offered, along with those international superstars, an across-the-spectrum selection of New Orleans music. There was trad jazz in the Economy Hall tent, zydeco on the Fais Do Do stage, brass bands, jazz, and blues. Over the past few years, we’d grown used to starting our day with whatever Mardi Gras Indian gang was opening at the Jazz and Heritage stage and taking it from there.
That absence makes the release of Up From the Streets bittersweet. This 104-minute film, directed by Michael Murphy with four-time Grammy winner Terence Blanchard as executive producer, music director, and host, should have been on the film festival circuit this spring. Already the recipient of the Documentary Feature Award of Excellence at the Indie Fest Film Festival and the Juried Gold Award Winner for Best Feature Documentary at Houston WorldFest Film Festival, it is currently available as part of a virtual festival through May 21 to stream, for a fee of $12, part of which goes to support the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Jazz & Heritage Music Relief Fund and part of which goes to the cinema that would have screened the film. (Viewers, who have 72 hours to watch the film once they have purchased it, have such options as Provincetown’s Waters Edge Cinema or the Amherst Cinema.) …
Full review in the Arts Fuse (no paywall!): https://artsfuse.org/202931/music-documentary-review-up-from-the-streets-new-orleans-history-of-oppression-and-creativity/?fbclid=IwAR2N7xjjHqeXavf0jDzEJYLNVAyH3L6dZY0X_UMnAy49qI5TA0xVvPHq4PU