Passengers landing at Louis Armstrong International Airport this week after a taxing day of travel will have something besides the humidity to remind them they’ve arrived: a rocking dose of live New Orleans music.
Starting Monday afternoon, the airport will feature performances by local musicians as part of a new program intended to help stressed travelers relax, make the airport funkier and help the city’s musicians expand their influence worldwide.
The airport will feature 10 concerts a week at four venues, according to Nancy Coplin, an Austin, Texas-based music consultant who helped organize the program.
Coplin spent 14 years running a similar program at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. She said that airport started with two shows per week and was up to 138 weekly shows by the end of her tenure.
“It benefits the travelers, it benefits the employees and it benefits the musicians,” Koplin said about the program.
The program is funded by Delaware North, a hospitality management company that oversees restaurants and other concession operations at Austin, New Orleans and many other airports.
Coplin said the company has seen a significant return on its investment in Austin and believes grooving airport patrons mean more sales.
“They really have a solid understanding on what a positive thing the music is,” she said.
The Tipitina’s Foundation is handling all the booking, according to Nathan Wendte, marketing and development coordinator for the foundation.
He said Tipitina’s previously facilitated a program, called “Tips on the Tarmac,” which booked bands to jam on the airport’s concourses.
Though it was a hit with patrons, Wendte said, the program was a financial burden. The addition of Delaware North as a sponsor allows Tipitina’s to serve as a community liaison, he said.
“Our goal is to showcase the diversity of musical talent we have in New Orleans,” he said. “We’re trying to book talent from numerous musical genres so travelers can understand the wealth of musical traditions New Orleans has to offer.”
Wendte said he’s received about a dozen inquiries from bands who want to play at the airport. Interested groups should contact him directly.
In addition to soothing the ears of travelers, Wendte said, the airport concerts also will help bands promote their other gigs in the city.
Travelers who see a group playing when they arrive may make it a point to catch them again later in their trip, he said.
“It might lead them to a musical venue or a neighborhood in the city they wouldn’t have usually seen,” he said.
Also helping facilitate the concerts will be Chase Catering and Concessions, which is managed by Edgar Chase IV, the grandson of restaurateurs Leah and Dooky Chase.
The airport concerts will kick off at 1 p.m. Monday when Big Joe Kennedy takes the stage in Concourse B. They will run through July, starting at the same time.
Coplin called the airport “the front door to a city” and said that by featuring local talent, New Orleans will be starting visitors off on the right foot.
“What better place to do this than New Orleans? The music is stunning and should be shared with everybody,” she said.