Cutting Edge Music Business Conference founder Eric Cager is not one to miss a good opportunity. The 18-year-old event is adding a new feature this year: a daytime free music festival in Lafayette Square.
"We've always had a lot of great music (at the conference), but it has always taken place from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.," Cager says. "So we thought we should do a festival that's an extension of the new music showcases during the daytime."
Called the NOLA Downtown Music & Arts Festival, it includes acts covering a wide range of ages and genres. Some of the more familiar performers include jazz vocalist Stephanie Jordan, funk bands Damon Batiste and the Batiste NOW and David Batiste and the Gladiators, the Brass-A-Holics brass band, the Gospel Soul Children and zydeco veterans Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band. Newer bands include local rockers the Black Market Butchers.
Since its inception in 1993, the festival primarily has combined showcases of new bands and singer/songwriters and seminars on legal issues. It added more seminars about the business side of the industry and opportunities like film tax credits.
"Art is business," Cager says. "It's important for artists to realize that there are a lot of practical aspects. This is for artists, tour managers, booking agents and record labels."
There are a host of speakers presented in both the Cutting Edge Music Business Conference and the Continuing Legal Education portions of conference. Keynote speakers include Jeffrey Brabec, a former vice president of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), record industry executives and Martin Atkins, a former member of Public Image Ltd., author of Tour:Smart and owner of both a record label and recording studio. Other elements of the conference include a film industry program, originally added in 2003 to address tax credits available for film-related projects, and the Roots Music Gathering, which highlights New Orleans Cultural Heritage.
The NOLA Downtown festival presents music in Lafayette Square on Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The conference's Thursday night opening party at The Howlin' Wolf is a fundraiser for the Roots of Music program, which provides music education to New Orleans school children. The entertainment lineup includes Marlon and Stephanie Jordan, LaTosha Brown, Tanya Boutte, George French and the Deja Vu Brass Band and others, and there is a tribute to legendary New Orleans composer Wardell Quezergue, who died on Sept. 6. From Thursday through Saturday, there are nighttime musical showcases for singer/songwriters, rock, hip-hop and R&B and gospel music at venues including 12 Bar, the Hard Rock Café, LeRoux and the Big Top Gallery. See the website for schedule and details.