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Front Porch: Jazz, Strawberries celebrated in Spring

Front Porch: Jazz, Strawberries celebrated in Spring

Author: Action News 17/Tuesday, April 9, 2019/Categories: Front Page, Latest Stories

A View from My Front Porch by Louise Bostic

An alpenhorn in the hands of a Swiss musician, his partner on the drums, making incredible music on a stage set up in front of the ruins of an ancient church, while a magnificent cathedral and an erupting volcano provide the backdrop for this week’s performers for the Jazz Festival in Antigua, Guatemala. Only night performances featuring singular combos from around the world provide the artistry in this South American version of the celebration of Jazz which continues throughout the month of March. This contrast in size, atmosphere, and cultural emphasis to our amazing festival here in Louisiana and elsewhere around the world is something I find incredible and personally appealing.

I was privileged to be in Montreal a few years ago at a Kiwanis convention when that great city was sponsoring its own version of Jazz Festival. Also different from our renown celebration and slightly later in the year, Jazz musicians were scattered throughout the city in shopping malls, sidewalk thoroughfares and even in large open spaces beneath the city along the underground transport system.

All these worldwide public performances have one common element, a genuine respect for this historical art form we know as Jazz. Whether a Swiss duo playing a myriad of traditional and modern instruments in Guatemala, famous musicians in solo or small bands in Canada, or continuous amplified stage artists with world-wide notoriety in New Orleans, Jazz is recognized by music aficionados everywhere as a favorite sound and an undeniable link between classical and modern music forms.

Here in south Louisiana it is appropriate that the City of New Orleans, a center of history and culture, designate an annual time or season to celebrate this pivotal art form. The roots of Jazz emerged in the early 1900’s in this country and became the Jazz Age of the 1920’s. Known by many around the world as America’s classical music, this form has incorporated the styles of blues, ragtime, and even military band sounds. Jazz inspired the dance styles of the 1930’s and 1940’s and even the rock and roll of the early 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Festivals today celebrate a myriad of jazz styles and developments from smooth sounds of the mid 20th century to the international genres of the 21st century, incorporating the Latin and Afro-Cuban styles often with highly amplified stage sounds.

New Orleans is the perfect venue for such a festival attracting world famous musicians and singers from this country who are particularly known for their unique and traditional performances of “America’s Classical Music”. The weather is promising to be almost perfect for this year’s outdoor celebrations and the Fair Grounds should see record crowds dancing barefoot or swaying to the incredible sounds of these world renowned artists.

Not to be overlooked or underrated is Ponchatoula’s own fiesta, the annual Strawberry Festival, which usually coincides with the New Orleans events. Last year’s record numbers exceeded 20,000 downtown in Hammond’s sister city ten miles south. It is difficult to distinguish between the center of the revelry at Ponchatoula’s City Park and the town itself as the crowds overfill the focus area and spill into the streets and shops in the entire town for more than four days of celebration.

In the early years of the Ponchatoula event, our service club sold sundae cups of ice cream topped with local strawberries out of the club’s small travel trailer. We earned monies for our many service projects and have continued to grow with the festival over the years. Kiwanis now sells alcohol-free daiquiris every year from their sizable tent in roughly the same place on the festival grounds as many years ago. From a few hundred dollars in the early 90’s to a few thousand now, all the proceeds from the sales are used to support the many community projects this club performs throughout the year. This festival has become the club’s major fund raiser and is supported by volunteers from the membership as well as by the high school and college student clubs in the Kiwanis “family” of organizations.

The motto for Kiwanis International is “…improving the world one child and one community at a time.” This activity helps to support what we do toward this goal. Whether you are celebrating America’s Classical Music Style or Louisiana’s amazing strawberries enjoy the spring weather this festival time April 12-15.


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