Decades of treasures at Jazz Fest archive

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - In a small French Quarter cottage lives the records of one of the world's biggest festivals, and the pride and joy of our festival season.  Yes, Jazz Fest has an archive!

Not many festivals have the legs or history to have their own archive, let alone one in a donated French Quarter cottage by a friend of the foundation, but ours is special, and it took a special vision to make it happen.

Foundation archivist Rachel Lyons explains, "The archive was initially formed in principle by Allison Miner going into 1989 which was the 25th Anniversary of the festival. They were working to begin to put together the celebration within the festival, it's usually at that point in any organization where they start thinking where is all the stuff, where's the old stuff."

Miner's desire to gather 'the stuff' and founding the Music Heritage stage at Jazz Fest helped begin what we know today as The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Archive, and there's a lot there to take in.

According to Lyons, "From the Music Heritage Stage alone, which are half-hour interviews with musicians with some demonstration performance, there are 834.  In terms of photography, we easily have 100k images."

There's also hundreds of video from shows produced about the festival, adn over fifty thousand in-log photos documenting the workflow of the festival being built over the years.  From the very first fest in 1970, there's the very first program, pres clippings, and the very first Jazz Fest poster.  Artist Tom Varisco created that iconic logo, first used between 1976 and 1978.  The archive is also a place fans can contribute to.

Lyons says "First of all we welcome volunteers, but also what I've found in my 15 years here, is that some of the best information we get is is actually from amateur photographers."

So everyone is invited to contribute.

Festival producer Quint Davis says the archive is important, "So much of this history has come and gone and not just our people, because Charlie Mingus was here, Muddy Waters was here, the greatest of the great and James Booker, so many have come and gone, and they've all been here.  So having an archive preserves our history, not just the festival's history but sort of the mother load of New Orleans music history."

The Jazz and Heritage Archive is located at 901 Toulouse St.  New Orleans, LA 70112  Visitors should call in advance. (504) 558-6138

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