Friday, May 10, 2013

The Book Tent at Jazz Fest

Melinda Palacio

The book tent at Jazz Fest

Many locals grumble about the rising costs of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, but the proceeds go to good causes, especially education programs for kids. Thanks to Ted O'Brien of the Garden District Bookshop, I worked the book tent at Jazz Fest in New Orleans last Thursday. All proceeds of book sales went to the Children's Book Bank which provides books to children through several organizations, including STAIR (Start the Adventure in Reading), For the Children, Just the Right Attitude, and Girls and Boys Town of Louisiana.
 Jazz Fest 2013

While working the cash register, Ted allowed me to display my novel, OcotilloDreams, front and center. If people looked as if they weren't sure which book to top off their shopping list, I could direct them to mine. This is how I sold a copy to Swati J. Shah of New Orleans. She dropped in to say hello to friends and browse the collection. "I came by to see if any books caught my eye," she said. "I buy books for me and for children I know. I love to read and want them to enjoy it too."

Jazz Fest is seven days, spread over two long weekends of music, dancing, food, and books. On the day that I went, M was the operative letter: music, mud, manure (the festival takes place on the fair grounds and horse racing track), miscommunication, and overall messy.  The shows go on, rain or shine. There are some covered tents, but the big stages are an open free for all where you bring your own chair, blanket, or tarp and claim some land to dance on.
The rain and mud kept crowds away on Thursday.

The telephone game came into play in form of a miscommunication that went viral. I remember the potential suspect, a woman in a green raincoat who asked about the sign that announced the cancellation of Patti Smith's signing in the Book tent and rescheduling to the Garden District Book Shop a few hours before her performance at the Gentilly stage. The tall lady in the green coat was confused and asked everyone in the book tent about Patti Smith's "cancelled performance." We all assured her that only the book signing for her memoir Just Kids was cancelled at the book tent and moved to the Garden District Book Shop several hours before her appearance at Jazz Fest. Yet somehow, through the power of facebook and twitter, news of Smith's supposed show cancellation went viral. Eventually, Jazz Fest organizers put up an official sign assuring the crowd that Patti Smith did not cancel her performance. She even started playing early, and with her bewitching voice, the clouds parted and the sun came out.
Ted O'Brien with Patti Smith in background

There was nothing to do about the mud. Super volunteer Sean Griffith said he didn't mind the mud or the manure one bit: "Honestly, the music and the atmosphere were so electric, the bad weather didn't matter much to me," he said. "It maybe even added something. But this is coming from someone who chronically shows up unprepared and had no chair or blanket to be ruined."
Two people who did not know each other before Jazz Fest dance to Widespread Panic.

The rain sure caused a damper on the book tent. It's very hard to keep the books dry when people ducked into the tent for shelter and perused the books with dripping hands and wet ponchos. The previous weekend, the book tent's grassy ground flooded. Jazz fest organizers finally put down some rubber walkways. Ted O'brien has been working the jazz fest book tent for the past decade. For him, every day it doesn't rain is a highlight.

I was excited to discover the book tent, attend Jazz Fest (even for just a day), and volunteer at a worthy cause that helps children have access to books.

Back in California, this Saturday is Lit Fest Pasadena, May 11. Visit three blogueros at the Omnipresent Panel: The Vibrancy of Latino Literature

Starting: 2:00PM to 3:00PM

PANEL: Omnipresent: The Vibrancy of Latino Literature (2:00pm-3:00pm)
Omnipresent: the Vibrancy of Latino Literature offers something for everyone. From memoir to noir mystery, poetry to historical fiction, and magical realism to L.A. fiction. The showcase of literature by Latino authors includesReyna Grande (The Distance Between Us: A Memoir), Manuel Ramos (Desperado: A Mile High Noir), Alex Espinoza (The Five Acts of Diego León), Melinda Palacio(How Fire Is a Story, Waiting), and moderator Daniel Olivas (The Book of Want).(Julia Child Stage)

May 18, Tia Chucha's Words and Music Festival,

The Banned Books panel is slated to begin at 1:30 and will end at 2:15 on Saturday May 18, 2013 at Los Angeles Mission College, 13356 Eldridge Avenue, Sylmar, CA. 91342.

May 19, Griffith Park Reading Series at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park at 5:30 pm (note new time).
The readers are Chiwan Choi, Melinda Palacio, Diana Wagman and Amanda Yates, with our special musical guest, Bloody Death Skull

No comments: