By James Pleasant
Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter Aaron Neville will join the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Dumpstaphunk and many more for the 41st annual LEAF Festival October 15-18 in Asheville, North Carolina.
This year’s LEAF Festival theme is Celebrating the Spirit of New Orleans, and focuses on honoring the cultural contributions the iconic Louisiana city has made through food, art and music. Artists were handpicked with a strong preference toward those who are native or connected to New Orleans – the birthplace of jazz music.
Jazz funk band Dumpstaphunk formed in New Orleans and is steeped in the city’s jazz hybrid traditions, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is an iconic eight-piece jazz group that takes its name from the Preservation Hall venue located in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Despite having several lineup changes since its birth in 1963, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to perform its brand of traditional New Orleans-flavored jazz.
Festival proceeds will go to LEAF Community Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting cultures, building communities, and organizing festivals and arts education programs.
“In creating LEAF, New Orleans was a guiding inspiration,” said LEAF Executive Director and Founder Jennifer Pickering.
“I grew up under the mystic of NOLA, visiting family, living there briefly, and being captured by the magic spirits of the place and people…I came to refer to NOLA as ‘the place where my heart beats.’”
As part of the festivities, LEAF International Haiti, LEAF International Guatemala, and LEAF Schools & Streets will be hosting a workshop called Musical Traditions of Guatemala & Haiti in Ashville’s Hanger Hall School for Girls. At the workshop, experienced students from Guatemala and Haiti will teach American students the music and culture from these countries such as Haitian drumming and traditional dances. Students will perform on Sunday, October 18 at Lake Eden’s Roots Family Stage.
This year marks the 10th anniversary since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, socially, environmentally and economically.