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New Orleans’ Answer to Live Music Under Quarantine

As a city built on music, culture, and community, self-isolation can put a damper on the spirit. Music doesn’t just run through the streets; it runs through our veins, too. It’s more than entertainment; it is the livelihood for many New Orleans musicians. However, in our city, hope is never lost, and innovation is around every corner.

With concerts being put on hold for the foreseeable future, we have indeed become innovative, and it wasn’t long before “quaratunes” started trending. Quaratunes is our new way of live music consumption during self-isolation. Venues, festivals, artists, and record labels are using live-streaming sessions as a way to ease our quarantine woes and sustain the careers of the musicians and venues we love.

With the unfortunate cancellation of festivals like French Quarter Festival, Jazz Fest, BUKU Music + Art Project, and various others around the country, streaming concerts, or Quarantunes, were born.

Streaming concerts are not only a tool for canceled live events but are creating an entirely new genre of live music experiences by creating new festivals with artists and streaming them around the country.

Three music industry professionals and New Orleanians launched Sofa King Fest as “an emergency response online music and arts festival and directory aimed to minimize your COVID-19 quarantine boredom. The ongoing live stream festival experience curated a “main stage experience” with legendary New Orleans acts such as Big Freedia, Tank & The Bangas, The Soul Rebels, Sweet Crude, Pell, The Suffers, Esther Rose, Quickie Mart, Robin Barnes, Flow Tribe and more with all proceeds going directly to the artists or the charity of their choosing.

French Quarter Festivals, Inc in collaboration with New Orleans Business Alliance and WWLTV hosted “Live from the Porch” virtual concert series filled with acts from the festival’s 2020 lineup to help support New Orleans’ gig and cultural economy workers.

New Orleanians know that April and May is Jazz Fest time. Festival grounds may be closed but the fest won’t stop. “Pull out your festival shirts, hats, flags, chairs and get ready to celebrate the best of New Orleans music from your backyard” with WWOZ’sJazz Festing in Place.

WWOZ will broadcast all 8 days for 8 hours each day– 11am-7pm, the same days and hours as the originally scheduled Jazz Fest! Jazz Festing in Place will be featuring some of the best performances in Jazz Fest history including Dr. John, Fats Domino, The Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, The Meters, Allen Toussaint, and more. The 8-day online festival will also show interview segments highlighting festival fan favorites like crafts, culture, and cooking. Cubes are out now and music starts soon!

Not only are artists streaming as part of virtual festival lineups, but many are taking to social media to host weekly, or in some cases, daily concerts. Preservation Hall’s Ben Jaffee has performed nightly at 6:30 New Orleans time on Instagram. Offbeat Magazine has continued to compile weekly concert listings for New Orleanians to keep up to date with the latest streams.

This crisis is the perfect time for our community to come together by supporting local artists, musicians, and businesses. Playlists curated by independent labels, music festivals, and the artist themselves serve as supplemental content for their live streams. Companies like NOLA Relief are creating limited edition merchandise that supports musicians, service industry businesses, and music venues. Organizations like the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Music Relief Fund, and MusiCares’ Emergency Financial Assistance Program are helping to provide relief and maintain our sense of music community through the COVID-19 pandemic. For a full list of resources, check out WWOZ’s blog post to discover ways you can help New Orleans culture continue to prosper.

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