Satchmo SummerFest recalls Louis Armstrong

NEW ORLEANS -- "I never tried to prove nothing, just wanted to give a good show."

That was Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong's profile of himself, the nation's acclaimed "International Ambassador to Jazz."

New Orleans plans to give a good show of its own when it honors its favorite son at the fourth annual Satchmo SummerFest Aug. 4 to 8 in the French Quarter. Events are free unless otherwise noted.

The Satchmo SummerFest is becoming a favorite of music fans and is one of the Southeast Tourism Society's Top 20 Events.

"Louis Armstrong left a lasting legacy to the city of New Orleans and the state," said Louisiana's Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. "Satchmo Summerfest is more than a festival. It's a celebration of his life."

The festival will honor the musician and cultural ambassador with music performed by some of the top jazz musicians in the world and will kick off with a celebration of Armstrong's 103rd birthday. (He believed he was born on the Fourth of July, but records turned up after his death showed his birthday was Aug. 4.)

The birthday party will be held in front of the Louis Armstrong statue erected in 1980 in Louis Armstrong Park adjacent to the French Quarter.

This is not be confused with the Armstrong statue erected in 1993 across the Mississippi at the Algiers Ferry landing, where the Robert E. Nims Jazz Walk of Fame begins.

The jazz walk runs along the river and features 60 "interactive" lampposts, each bearing a photo of an artist (Armstrong among them) and a button visitors can push to hear a biography and music segment on the artist. Visitors can reach the jazz walk by taking the free Algiers Ferry, located at Canal Street and the Mississippi River.

An image of Louis Armstrong looks down on visitors to last year's Satchmo SummerFest in New Orleans. The festival will take place Aug. 4 to 8 this year. Beginning Aug. 5, the Satchmo SummerFest Seminar Series will offer free seminars on Armstrong's life, led by jazz historians.

Among them will be George Avakian, Armstrong's producer at Columbia Records in the 1950s and 1960s; Dan Morgenstern, director of the Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, N.J.; and Michael Cogswell, director of the Louis Armstrong House and Archives in Queens, N.Y.

Rare photos of Armstrong, many never before seen by the public, will be displayed at the Louisiana State Museum Jazz Exhibit. The museum's permanent collection includes a bugle and a cornet on which Armstrong learned to play.

Three major events will take place on Aug. 6:

• The Red Beans & Ricely Yours luncheon will be held at noon. The menu for this three-course meal features typical New Orleans' food and music. Reservations are required. The location and price are to be

determined. Call (504) 522-5730 or visit

• The Satchmo Art Show will take place at the Crescent City Brewhouse on Decatur Street from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Juried art by local artists depicting the entertainer's life and music will be shown.

• The Satchmo Club Strut will be featured at various jazz clubs in New Orleans from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. For $20, lovers of jazz will hear some of the top jazz bands in the city.

A two-day, open-air jazz festival will be held Aug. 7 and 8 on four stages set up at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint, 400 Esplanade Ave. on the banks of the Mississippi River. More than 25 jazz and blues bands will perform.

According to festival officials, a number of hotels will offer special Satchmo Summerfest rates; the names of the hotels and the rates were not available at press time but will be listed on the festival Web site at in July.

For additional information on the Satchmo SummerFest, call (800) 673-5725.

To contact the reporter who wrote this story, send e-mail to [email protected] .

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