The kickoff party for this year’s Cutting Edge NOLA Music Business Conference took place in the upstairs Ramp Room of the Little Gem Saloon at South Rampart and Poydras in the CBD of New Orleans. After a historical presentation about New Orleans’ community radio station WWOZ, there was a guitar summit sponsored by T-watt amplifiers, co-hosted by blues guitarists Jonathan “Boogie” Davenport and Guitar Slim Jr. Downstairs in the restaurant, a straight ahead jazz trio was playing, featuring the vocalist Nayo Jones. But Cutting Edge showcases were also going on at other venues in the city simultaneously, so after hanging out at the Little Gem for about an hour, I decided to head to other venues.
While the music and fun in the park were first-rate, sadly the same cannot be said for the park itself. The first thing I noticed upon entering was a worn and dilapidated complex of wooden buildings that looked like ruins of a failed amusement park. A sign in a window identified part of the complex as the former studios of New Orleans’ great community radio station WWOZ. One would think that the buildings could be restored and put to good use, or else torn down. Their presence in the park adds to the image of a park that is rarely used and which has never lived up to its potential. However the Jazz in the Park concert series seems a step in the right direction.