For drummer Vidacovich, the first Jazz Fest was ‘like a big picnic’

NEW ORLEANS-- Drummer Johnny Vidocovich is a force whenever he's on stage.  Be it with the modern jazz quartet Astral Project that he's played with for years, or with his own trio, this man can beat those skins.

The stories Johnny tells with his instrument are at the hear of our music.

Quint Davis of Festival Productions explains, "Central to all New Orleans music is drumming. Whether it's second line, brass band, everything. That snare with that drum has, that's the center of everything."

Central to the story of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for the last 50 years has been Johnny's drumming.  In fact, he played the first fest in 1970 in Al Belletto's band. 

Johnny says the crowds were thin, but attentive, and it certainly had a different feel than the fest we've come to know.

"It was way more like a picnic. it wasn't as big. I immediately thought this is really pretty and everybody's smiling, everybody laying around in the grass, people were bringing there food and drinks and it had a 100% potential to last," says Vidocovich.

Like most that grew up playing music in our city, Johnny's known for his versatility.

Davis says, "In New Orleans, everybody plays everything. There's no walls between that. Everybody plays everything. Johnny Vidocovich, he can be the heart of any kind of music, that's New Orleans music and traditional music, but he should not be underestimated in the world."

Johnny Vidocovich appears with the Voices of the Wetland All-Stars tomorrow (Firday5.3.19) at 2:05pm on the Acura Stage.

Giants of the Fest is made possible by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Archive and sponsored by Rouses Markets.

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