Starting on Thursday, music fanatics and NOLA-philes from around the world will once again converge on the Crescent City to partake in the yearly cultural feast that is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. After drawing an estimated 400,000 fans to the Fair Grounds last year, Jazzfest and its loyal patrons will undoubtedly have a stranglehold on the city and attract global media attention, with a 2012 lineup that includes Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Beach Boys, The Eagles, Foo Fighters, My Morning Jacket and more.
Even with a slate like that, the 43rd annual mega music fest isn’t the only big game in town this weekend, as New Orleans welcomes 2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson and a stacked lineup of professional golf stars at the always-popular PGA TOUR Zurich Classic.
The Zurich’s significance and value to the city cannot be underestimated. In 2006, The Zurich Classic was the first nationally televised sporting event after Hurricane Katrina. Since 2005, the tournament together with the Fore!Kids Foundation has raised nearly $8 million for more than 40 charities that serve more than 200,000 children in need throughout southeastern Louisiana. Many players committed their earnings from the tournament to hurricane relief.
The Zurich Classic is one of the oldest stops on the tour (starting in 1938 and played annually in New Orleans since 1958), and, as has been the case since the PGA TOUR shifted its schedule several years ago, the tournament now coincides with the first weekend of Jazz Fest. Being a music fanatic, a used-to-be avid and competitive golfer (with a handful of friends from junior golf days now out there competing on the PGA, Nationwide and Hooters Tours), and after seeing that the two events aligned, it seemed only natural to tie the two big-ticket events together in interviews.
At one event, you’ll find serenity as a member of the gallery taking in the bucolic, natural settings of the scenic TPC Lousiana course, as golf claps and the occasional fan’s “GET IN THE HOLE!” shout fills the air.
At the other, guitar solos, questionable audience dance moves and transcendent performances will carry the day. Both events will feature amazing local food and drink, with the main attraction being the chance to marvel as the masters of their craft do the unthinkable with their instrument of choice, whether it’s a 4-iron or a Fender.
To tie the two seemingly mutually-exclusive events together (with a great deal of help from TOUR Media Official Mark Stevens), we arranged for a handful of willing participants from this year’s field to answer a few topical music questions about live concert experiences, their first album purchases and their time spent in New Orleans in years past. Participants in the brief survey included 2010 Jason Bohn, TOUR star Rickie Fowler, rookie Brian Harman (who I used to compete against as a high-school golfer — “compete” used rather loosely here) and several more. The golfers’ live music experiences ranged from those who haven’t seen a live performance in four or five years to the more music-loving variety.
Best Concert Attended: Bob Dylan in Birmingham.
First Album Purchased / What Format: AC/DC Back In Black, Vinyl 45.
Last Concert Attended: Lil’ Wayne in Omaha,.
Favorite Restaurant in New Orleans: “No doubt” Emeril’s NOLA restaurant.
Practices Listening To: For chipping and putting, Simon & Garfunkel (for rhythm).
Best Band Seen At TOUR-Sponsored Event: John Mayer at the HONDA Classic in Palm Beach, Fl.
Rock Star Encounter: Tommy Thayer of KISS. “The nicest guy … he just blew me away with his personality, what type of person he is considering the music he plays. It was one of the best times I’ve had playing golf with an amateur.”
First Concert: Acoustic Syndicate in Atlanta at The Cotton Club. Good show, kinda bluegrass-y stuff.
Best Concert: Of Montreal, New Year’s Eve in Athens, Ga. Opened at midnight with a set of heavy-hitter covers like Prince, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin — it was just one after another. Second set was just crazy Of Montreal hits, just a huge dance party.
Last Concert: Andrew Bird touring on his new album. First time I’d seen him; awesome, guy’s a freakin’ genius.
First Album Purchased and What Format: Green Day’s Dookie at one of the now-defunct media stores like Tower Records or Media Play.
Favorite Restaurant: Haven’t been since I was a kid, but I do remember Cafe Du Monde and getting beignets there.
Practices Listening To: Andrew Bird, some jam band stuff, Felice Brothers, Dr. Dog — nothing too heavy.
Best Concert at TOUR-sponsored event: At a fundraiser in Omaha, I saw Conor Oberst followed by Gillian Welch. If worlds collide, I’ll get lucky and catch a show on the road.
Best Concert & First Concert: Drive-By Truckers at 40 Watt and Drive-By Truckers at The Georgia Theater in Athens, Ga.
First Album Purchased and What Format: N-Sync No Strings Attached on CD. I was 9 or 10, probably played it on a Walkman or something. I don’t have a record player; have heard of the old 8-track though.
Last Concert Attended: Red Hot Chili Peppers in Charlotte last Friday at the Bobcats’ Arena. It was awesome.
Favorite Restaurant in New Orleans: He has only been to New Orleans once, for the Sugar Bowl once in college, and doesn’t recall where they ate.
Practices Listening To: Ghostland Observatory and Bassnectar rockin’ on the jam box. I use it during the practice round.
Best Concert & First Concert: Coldplay in Oklahoma City.
Last Concert Attended: Justin Timberlake in Las Vegas.
First Album Purchased and What Format: No clue. But when I was a little kid I used to listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers on cassette all the time.
Favorite Restaurant in New Orleans: Drago’s.
Practices Listening To: When I do, I just put a playlist on shuffle.
Rock Star Encounters/Moments: Played with Glenn Frey of The Eagles and Irving Azoff. Also, I’m pretty good buddies with the guys from OAR. He also has performed with friend Kelly James several times — most notably singing “Sweet Caroline” at the Bird’s Nest in Phoenix. First time doing that “was probably one of the most nervous times I’ve ever had.”
Best Concert: Coldplay in Dallas.
First Concert: Bette Midler at the Staples Center.
First Album Purchased and What Format: Gregory Isaacs or Bob Marley on cassette tape.
Favorite Restaurant in New Orleans: Popeye’s Chicken and “wherever Kelly Gibson will take me.”
Best Concert: Lynryd Skynyrd and ZZ Top at the Civic Center in Savannah. Probably the first and only one I’ve been to.
First Album Purchased: That’s hard; I honestly don’t know. Probably something like Hank Williams or George Strait on CD.
Restaurant Guide: Has never been to New Orleans, but “I know Lucas; I just call Lucas Glover wherever we are and he knows exactly where to go.”
Practices Listening To: I’m usually on the Pandora Eric Church Radio; I’m a pretty big country fan. I put one of those jam boxes in my bag and let that play.
Rock Star Encounters: Not yet, but supposed to meet Jason Aldean in the fall at his charity event. I’m excited about that.
Best Concert: Kings of Leon in Dallas a couple of years ago.
First Concert Attended: Lil Wayne in Dallas 10 years ago. It was fun.
First Album Purchased and What Format: Metallica on CD.
Last Concert Attended: Kelly James.
Jazz Fest? Thinking about attending this year.
Favorite Restaurant in New Orleans: Acme is amazing. The player party we have there is phenomenal.
Practices Listening To: A little bit of everything, hip-hop, alternative, country. I’ll get it going in the golf cart when I’m at home.
Best Band Seen at a TOUR-sponsored event: Kelly James or Pat Green.
Has Been Known To: Get on stage to sing with Kelly James from time to time and has joined Pat Green on stage.
Rock Star Encounters: Played with Javier Colon (winner of The Voice) last year.
Best Concert: Alabama’s Farewell Tour in Raleigh in 2003.
First Concert Attended: Strait Fest in Clemson. George Strait and other big names.
First Album Purchased and What Format: Doesn’t know; probably on cassette.
Last Concert Attended: Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert at the Greenbrier.
Favorite Restaurant in New Orleans: Toss-up between Drago’s and Acme Oyster House.
Practices Listening To: I don’t listen while I practice, but I need to.
Rock Star Encounters: I know Darius Rucker. My agent used to be the road manager for Hootie and the Blowfish. He’s not bad; you’ve gotta watch out for a guy who has two sets of golf clubs, one for the road and one that stays at home.
Best Concert: The Killers in 2008 in Atlanta, at a small, historic venue downtown.
First Concert: Dave Matthews Band at Cricket Pavilion in Arizona.
First Album Purchased and What Format: Cassette; can’t remember/don’t want to admit it.
Jazz Fest? Have never made it, but plan on going this year with a friend.
Favorite Restaurant in New Orleans: Drago’s or Acme Oyster House for the oysters.
Practices Listening To: Pandora — U2 or Linkin Park, that kind of genre.
Rock Star Encounters: Played with Michael Bolton (this year in Palm Springs). He was a great guy; we talked about traveling all around and how he still travels the world. He hits the ball well.
Wesley Hodges writes about music (and now, golf) for Live Music Blog: NOLA and for NolaVie.