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Satchmo SummerFest is a jazz delight

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
John Boutté (right) with his band at the 2017 Satchmo SummerFest.

With so many festivals in Louisiana, it can be hard to attend them all.

We even publish an annual fairs and festivals guide called La Fête. It's pretty thorough and features many of the festival queens throughout the state. But admittedly, it doesn't get them all.

The Satchmo SummerFest is one of those that can be easily overlooked, since it occurs typically on a hot summer day in the French Quarter situated around the Old U.S. Mint. But considering the jazz legacy that Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong left behind, perhaps it should be granted a little more attention. Moreover, this year's festival marked the 17th annual Satchmo SummerFest.

Wait, what the heck does Satchmo mean?

Before we go any further, I did a little digging and found out potential reasons why Louis Armstrong has such a unique nickname. We all probably recognize his deep, raspy voice from songs like "What a Wonderful World" and "A Kiss to Build a Dream on." But did you know that he is said to have had an unusually large mouth?

Apparently, Satchmo was easy to kid with. People nicknamed the legendary trumpet player "Satchel Mouth" first. That evolved into Satchmo. It's a viable theory. But it is backed up because Satchmo was also said to have had the nickname "Dipper" earlier in his career. Dipper is said to be short for Dippermouth and is a clear reference to the song "Dippermouth Blues."

It's fun to go back and listen to Satchmo from time to time. His spirit is always uplifting. Which reminds me, just last month a six volume compilation album was released. It's called The Decca Singles 1935-1946. At the moment, I can't think of a better accompaniment to a lazy day in the backyard.

While I certainly have memories of falling asleep outside the Old Mint in New Orleans, years ago during Satchmo SummerFest, having lucid dreams and acquiring awkward sunburns, 2017 was a little different.

At some point during John Boutté's set rain started dumping in Downtown New Orleans. Soaking wet, I drove out just in time before disastrous flooding occurred in the city. Boy, if New Orleans doesn't get their pumping system under control soon . . .

Anyway, the SummerFest usually costs $5 bucks to enter. It features really good food and souvenirs, and it's right there in the French Quarter. I suggest getting a hotel room for the weekend. That is, if you are into jazz and taking it easy for a couple days.

Unlike most similar events, the festival doesn't really feature headliners. That is unless you're Kermit Ruffins. Sure, you might recognize some artists over others, but ultimately it's an intimate celebration of the music that defines the culture of the city.

Go to checkout The Preservation Band, Corey Henry, Shannon Powell, Leroy Jones, Shamarr Allen, Charmaine Neville, Ellis Marsalis, or the Hot 8 Brass Band just to name a few.

And next year, I'll be sure to bring my umbrella and maybe some shrimpin' boots. Meet me in the Big Easy!