In the hallway outside my room where I grew up in Alexandria, VA, there were two pieces of art hanging on the wall: the 1977 and 1980 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage posters.
The 1976 poster used to hang in my sister’s house and now hangs in my kitchen and is tattooed on my left arm (with some modifications).
I was 18 months old when I attended my first Jazzfest. But the fest 17 years later would have the most impact on me. I had spent most of my senior year of high school really digging into New Orleans piano. I honestly cannot remember who I saw that year, as many of the performances over the years tend to run together. But I do remember that this was something I desperately wanted to be a part of.
I got my first call to play Jazzfest in 2013.
I got to play the main stage for the first time in 2015. Last year, 2016, I felt an intense spiritual experience while playing “Oh, Alabama.” I know that the festival has changed a lot since the early years that hang on my wall, but every morning before each Jazzfest performance I feel like I did as a child waking up on Christmas morning.
It is a humbling experience for me. I remind myself that no matter what happens or doesn’t happen in my career that I was able to be a part of this piece of New Orleans culture.
Any year could be my last, and I'm ok with that.