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A few curve balls, then we knocked it out of the Jazz Fest park!

The Confetti Park Players had their New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival debut on Saturday, April 23, 2016. And it was wonderful. But there were a few curve balls….

The Confetti Park Players is a children’s chorus based in Algiers Point. We like to do fun, interesting collaborations with New Orleans musicians. We have been doing live performances since October 2014—our first public performance was at Charles Gillam’s Folk Art Fest in Algiers. Since then, we have performed at churches, nursing homes, parties, Euclid Records and Louisiana Music Factory, and French Quarter Festival! We’ve recorded at real recording studios (Marigny Recording Studio and Word of Mouth) and filmed music videos with pirates. Our debut CD came out in November 2015 (and won a Parents’ Choice Award!). Playing Jazz Fest is our latest exciting milestone.

Preparing for stage performance

Preparing for stage performance in a blue box

The kids are amazing, and have been working so hard learning all the songs, choreographing dances, and brainstorming fun props. For months, we have been prepping for stage performance by practicing inside a box created by blue painters tape. The adult musicians started practicing with us throughout the month of April. We were ready—and as a special treat, I had (months ago) reserved a party bus to carry us from the West Bank to the Jazz Fest gates for the big day. Everything was ready to go….

Friday—the day before the festival—I get a call from our dear bass player. He’s just been diagnosed with pneumonia! Oh no! We love our bass player, who’s a talented resident of Algiers. But time to scramble. Swooping in to save the day was Greg Schatz—a real pro and a friend to the Confetti Park Players. Greg plays all over our CD and even wrote one of our biggest crowd-pleasers, “Watch Out for the Pirates.” So the night before the fest, Greg and I learned all the songs together. Whew! Crisis averted.

On Saturday, all the kids, parent chaperones, and West Bank musicians were to meet at 9 a.m. at a local church, where the party bus would pick us up. At 8:30 a.m, I get a phone call from the bus driver. His bus is broken down on Claiborne Avenue.

Nothing to do but call all the parents (of 20 kids!) and tell them to find their own way to Jazz Fest. No point in wringing hands. I will admit that my heart was beating very hard and fast for long periods of time that morning, as I made all the necessary phone calls. But I really have some cool, laid-back and adaptive parents. They quickly coordinated among themselves to form carpools and hail cabs to the fest. We all met outside the gates and walked in as a mob. Thank you to those gatekeepers for being so flexible with us, as we were supposed to be on a bus, not on foot!

Confetti Park Players a staff pick at the Jazz Fest CD tent

Confetti Park Players are a staff pick at the Jazz Fest CD tent

All that stress made the performance itself a breeze. The sound guys at the kids’ tent were great. The staff were kind and helpful and supportive. Everyone at Jazz Fest was truly excellent to work with. We had a terrific band in David Rosser (guitar), Dylan Field Turner (drums), Greg Schatz (bass), Mike Kaufmann (piano), Jim Thornton (trumpet), and Dr. Sick (musical saw, fiddle, toy piano and more toys). The most stressful thing about the show was making sure that every single kid in the audience got a pirate tattoo and a feufollet light…Our  parents helped pass out the goodies.

Bonus surprise: the staff at the Right Place Rhythmporium made us a Staff Pick that day!

The fest would have been unforgettable no matter what. Now, we have a fun story to tell about it, too. We sure hope we get asked back to Jazz Fest next year—it was a blast!

Next up,  the Confetti Park Players are playing at Bayou Boogaloo on May 22 and the Creole Tomato Festival on June 11. More events at http://confettipark.com/events/

Enjoy these videos from the big day.

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