Lifestyle & Belief

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival closes first weekend of 43rd edition with Bruce Springsteen (PHOTOS)


Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform during the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival at the Fair Grounds Race Course on April 29, 2012, in New Orleans, Louisiana.


Rick Diamond

Now in its 43rd year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival closed its first weekend with Bruce Springsteen's 2 1/2 hour show.

People began staking out spots for the weekend closer when the festival grounds opened at 11 a.m. on Sunday, racing to set up chairs and blankets as close to the stage as possible, reported the Denver Post. By the time Springsteen took to the stage, fans were piled in all the way to the back of the fairgrounds track, where around 400,000 people will eventually visit over the duration of the music and culture festival's seven days.

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Better known as Jazz fest, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was launched in 1970 by Quint Davis, an ethnomusicologist then just finishing college, and Newport Jazz Festival founder George Wein. According to Reuters, their goal was to create an event that reflected New Orleans, with its unusual mix of French, Spanish, African and Native American influences. The two came up with a festival that showcased local jazz, blues, R&B, African, Cajun and zydeco bands, and integrated New Orleans food favourites like shrimp étouffée, boiled crawfish, oyster po-boys and Creole gumbo.

"Over time, the festival has become an authentic home to some very rare and deep traditions that only exist in south Louisiana," Davis said to Reuters. "It's now like Mardi Gras — it's part of the cultural fabric of New Orleans."