Musician & Historian Dave Thomas Speaks on “Jazz Fests Before Jazz Fest”


Dave Thomas, a musician and tour guide who hosts music tours in New Orleans, will present a seminar titled “Jazz Fests Before Jazz Fest,” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, July 31, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.

According to Thomas, several festivals focusing on jazz occurred in the late 1940s with several concerts in Congo Square. At the time, jazz was not valued as an essential component of the city’s cultural fabric, and the city had no dedicated agencies to promote jazz tourism.

In the early 1960s, jazz aficionados began to debate how jazz festivals could be created in New Orleans. Music festivals already were operating in other cities such as Monterey, California, and Newport, Rhode Island. The International Jazz Fest debuted in 1968 with an estimated 20,000 in attendance, and it was repeated in 1969.

Then as now, the festivals were criticized for featuring too much imported talent and too few local artists.

The following year, in 1970, Jazz Fest was born and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Dave Thomas leads tours about music history. He has designed different music history tours, teaches New Orleans jazz history at the Delgado tour guide class, and is the primary trainer for the local Tauck guides on their Ken Burns Jazz Journey tours in New Orleans.  Thomas is a traditional jazz drummer and instructor.

This event is free of charge and is open to the public. There is no registration.

For more information regarding this presentation, contact Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming for the library, at 504-889-8143 or