Should I take my kid to the Jazz Fest?

The question of whether or not to bring kid(s) to the Jazz Fest comes up every year. When asked, my first response is always a resounding “No,” because I’m selfish and I love the freedom of running around with my husband, checking out new bands, worshiping the old, and hopping around to visit friends, some of which I only see once a year… at the Jazz Fest. All of this is very difficult to do while dragging a little one around because, let’s face it, kids don’t like to walk.


Having said ALL that, the real answer is Yes AND No.

Yes, you should take your kid to the Jazz Fest, but only for a few hours.


The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of our city’s major cultural events. As a local, it’s important for our kids to be part of our community and appreciate the uniqueness that is New Orleans. The Jazz Fest is part of our city’s modern narrative, and anyone who lives here understands that there is a rhythm and flow to New Orleans life. Jazz Fest, in a way, marks the end of our celebratory season… which is about 6 months long. Exposing kids to their community’s cultural and musical traditions creates a shared identity and a sense of belonging to something bigger.


Jazz Fest is as much New Orleans as New Orleans is Jazz Fest. Kids need to be exposed to the special parts of our city, even if it’s only for a few hours. Eventually, the sites, smells and feel of the Jazz Fest will sink into their bones and become part of who they are and where they come from. They will be glad you loved them enough to sacrifice your own enjoyment for the sake of their cultural and musical development.


Jazz Fest is an opportunity to expose kids to live music. How many kids can say they’ve worshiped in a Gospel Tent or seen musical legends of their time? Even if they don’t appreciate it right now, they will thank you later. Also, music is the kind of stuff that makes kids interesting and smart. It’s important that kids get out of the bubble. Disney isn’t the only thing they should be looking forward to.


As parents, we want our kids to experience this cultural bliss and appreciate it as much as we do. Alas, this is not always the case, which is why you really need an in-and-out strategy. Two to three hours is enough for the kids to hear some great music, eat some great food and rendezvous with some friends, so have a babysitter pick them up at the gate so the kids can marinate in their experience (at home) and you can be free to enjoy the adult time without the whining. It’s a win-win. If a babysitter (or some other arrangement) isn’t an option, then cut your losses and leave on a high note as a family. Yes, it is an expensive few hours. You’re either comfortable with that or you’re not.


Lagniappe (this means “a little something extra… like a bonus)

Something awesome happened to us this Jazz Fest. A girlfriend of mine came up to me at carpool and asked me if Anson, my seven year old, would like to come to the Fest with her family for a few hours to see her son perform at the Kids Tent. Her husband would drop them off at the gate, they would stay for 2 hours and then her husband would pick them up at the gate and bring her home. Anson jumped in their car and headed to the Fest like a big girl. She had a great time. The lesson here is that if someone else wants to bring your kid to the Fest, say YES! There is nothing wrong with your kid experiencing cultural bliss with someone else. In fact, it’s a good thing.

Now for the other side of the coin.

No, you should not bring your kids to the Jazz Fest.

The reason you don’t see too many miserable parents lugging/wearing/strolling around their miserable kids at the Jazz Fest is because they had to leave. If it’s your one day to go to the Fest and you’ve paid a lot of money for tickets and/or travel and you don’t have the luxury of sending the kids home, you do not want to bring the kids. The Jazz Fest is an expensive, all-day endeavor. The odds are not in your favor that your kid is not going to rain on your parade.



Sometimes the stars align, you find the perfect spot, the kids have a little shade and space to dance and play in the grass, it’s not scathingly hot, there are no torrential downpours, and no one has to potty. If this is you, congratulations. There is something so sweet about having a great Jazz Fest with your kids. It’s one of those beautiful memories that you all will look back on and smile. And the only thing you should leave the Jazz Fest with is a smile.


56th Annual GRAMMY Awards: Best Children’s Album

Anyone else hit YouTube this morning to check out some of the Grammy winners? I was really taken by Lorde’s performance of Royals, which took best song of the year. I kinda love her. What’s the deal with her black fingers? Is that, like, a thing now? God I’m old. I thought Taylor Swift’s performance was great as well, with the exception of the head jerks and the ten second evil eye she gave the camera/her ex-boyfriend after her performance. A bit indulgent.

Despite the 31/2 hour show, only ten award recipients actually made it to the big screen. One category that is probably near and dear to many of our hearts is that of Best Children’s Album, where jazz musician, Jennifer Gasoi, became the first Canadian to ever win a Grammy for best children’s album for Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well, which contains songs in styles like swing, blue-grass, doo wop, gospel, klezmer, cajun and calypso. I just listened to the entire album and it is Awww-some! And, the cover is absolutely adorable. It was hard to find just one favorite but if I had to pick one (or two or three), these would be my choices:

1. I’m a Bubble for a fun, happy, giggly song we could all sing together;

2. Buttercup for a sweet, bedtime lullaby; and

3. Les Étoiles Dansent (The Stars Dance), another lovely lullaby en français.

You can preview and download all of her songs here:

Screenshot 2014-01-27 14.27.49

And the other nominees for Best Children’s Album are…

Folks-y (hey all you John Denver fans!)


Science-y (for the fans of educational music)


Comical and Creative-y


Inspiring (for kids in the hospital)


Happy listening! xxoo

founder of FUNdamentals joins nola musicians in concert to get’s kids moving

Did you know that the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park hosts live educational performances most days of the week at the Old U.S. Mint and on Saturdays in Armstrong Park?

Me, either.

Aaron Nigel Smithfounder of FUNdamentals of Music and Movement, a national arts program designed for pre-school and elementary school aged children, joins an all-star cast of New Orleans musicians for a special concert designed to get kids moving at the Old U.S. Mint on Tuesday, February 19 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

To give you a little background, Aaron’s debut CD release Let’s Pretend received a National Parenting Publication Award (NPPA) and iParenting Award. He also collaborated with Ziggy Marley on B is for Bob, a Bob Marley Children’s CD, which you probably remember hearing back in the day before Noggin became Nick Jr.

Aaron is also on the cast of the PBS Kids Emmy Award winning show Between the Lions. His newest release, Everyone Loves to Dance also received a Parent’s Choice and NPPA Awards. He is featured on several new releases including Buckwheat Zydeco’s Bayou Boogie and the 2012 Parents Choice Award winning Welcome to the Village, that features the voices of more than 300 children from New York, Los Angeles, Portland and the Cura Rotary Home near Nairobi, Kenya.

At this upcoming children’s concert, Aaron will debut his new hit song, Run Fish Run, from the recent release Songs for Junior Rangers, a CD released by the National Park Service.

Rock on!

the “cause” in hogs for the cause.

The musical line-up for the 5th Annual Hogs for the Cause will be announced today and tickets officially go on sale. For those of you who have attended Hogs in the past, you are probably as equally psyched as I am. This year, the fest moves to the new festival grounds at City Park (a.k.a. City “Pork”) and will feature an incredible musical line-up on two stages; 80 teams cookin’ up an insane amount of pig; and lots and lots of beer from NOLA Brewing. Oh yeah, and tickets are only $10 through January. Talk about bang for your buck. Hogs is the best bargain in town.

For many of you, Hogs is a great springtime activity – bring the kids and a blanket, veg out in the park, listen to some great bands and stuff your face with all the pork deliciousness. But do you know what the ’cause’ is behind ‘Hogs for the Cause’?


Each year, when you purchase your ticket and buy your pork and drink lots and lots of beer, you’re helping to support a family who has a child battling pediatric brain cancer. As a member of the Board for Hogs, I’ve been privileged to meet the families that you help support. This week, you helped us give a grant to 3-year old Faith Adams and her family. Isn’t she freakin’ cute? She really likes to draw and was scribbling away in her notebook when I met her the other day at Children’s Hospital. Aside from the emotional roller coaster that is having a child with brain cancer, it can also be a financial roller coaster. That’s where Hogs comes in. We help alleviate some of the financial struggles that come with such a disease. And what a struggle it can be.

So I ask that you please help spread the word, purchase tickets, and support in any way you can for our great cause. And when you’re out at the fest in March enjoying the day, know that you are indeed making a difference. Together we can do something great.

An audio portrait of new orleans twenty-twelve.

I had all the best conversations tonight.

I attended the opening reception introducing the pop-up Never Records Art Installation hosted by Jonathan Ferrara at his old gallery at 841 Carondelet.

I so love Art for Art Sake. And I love how the New Orleans art scene is so very multi-dimensional.

Never Records is an idea come to life by New York starving artist/musician/visionary, Ted Riederer. He’s also exhibited this concept in Dublin, London and the old Tower Records in NYC (it’s birthplace). The joy Ted felt opening up this installation tonight was contagious. It was art experienced in a very new way. People loved it. I loved it. And I can’t wait to go back with my six year old daughter. It’s too good to keep from her.

Over the next four weeks, artists of any sort (writers, poets, musicians, singers, songwriters, moonlighters and daydreamers) are invited to record a three-hour live session. Two vinyl records are cut–one for the artist and one for the installation. The exhibit is curated in real time.

Luke Winslow King performed and recorded the first live set (brilliant), which will retire to the archives, along with all the others, at the end of the exhibit’s four-week run. The New Orleans Never Records Installation becomes an audio portrait of New Orleans twenty-twelve and homage to the lost art of the record store.


I had all the best conversations tonight.

A rock-n-roll playlist for kids

One of the best gifts we’ve ever received is a CD of mixed songs from my daughter’s best friend…’s mother. And thanks to my children’s fascination with inserting random items into every nook and cranny of the VW Turbo Passat Wag, this CD is now a permanent fixture. We have been listening to it for almost two years now. The upside is that we all know every single word to every single song, specifically number 3, number 5, number 15 and number 17. I too enjoy number15 but love number 11, certain that if played enough times my daughters would come to appreciate it as much as I. This is not yet the case.

What I love about the idea of creating a mixed tape (dating myself here) is that it’s an opportunity to introduce kids to music that YOU love. There’s only so much Row Row Row Your Boat a parent can take. Besides, exposure to music makes kids smart.

Also, there is nothing more precious than listening to little voices sing big songs. It’s borderline heart-melting.

Do you have a playlist you’d like to share? For the love of Rock-n-Roll, please share it and we’ll post it.

Rock on to the playlist below. If you don’t have Adobe Flash, here is a link.

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