After a brass band performing in the street near Jazz Fest was temporarily shut down Saturday, New Orleans police added clarity Monday that it was actually not in violation of city noise ordinances.
"Multiple noise complaints" in the area had caused NOPD officers to be dispatched Saturday morning, and the group called the Hundreds Brass Band was ordered to stop playing along North Lopez Street.
The NOPD said in a statement on Monday that the shutdown was ordered as they researched the city's noise ordinances, though the band was found not to be in violation of them.
“The NOPD will always celebrate our city’s world-famous traditions and culture including its music," the NOPD's statement said. "At the same time, we must also consider the complaints made by residents related to quality of life issues and respond accordingly."
The NOPD said a resident in the area was asked to stop playing music from an "amplified device." Officers said the resident, "in the spirit of cooperation," agreed to stop using the device. The noise complaints originated from residents in the area of Sauvage and Maurepas streets.
The shutdown occurred as New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, celebrating its 50th anniversary, was kicking off its weekend slate at the Fair Grounds nearby.
LATEST: NOPD explains why it shut down brass band near Jazz Fest, says band was not in violation
The band eventually was given permission by a homeowner in the area to finish out its set. In its statement, the NOPD said the band returned to the original location to play the following day.
The appearance of shutting down live music outside of one of the city's signature music festivals was quickly met with derision as the news spread on social media.
New Orleans' music culture isn't restricted to symphony halls, nightclubs or festivals sponsored by Acura and Shell. It's more organic than that, or it should be.
"New Orleans' music culture isn't restricted to symphony halls, nightclubs or festivals sponsored by Acura and Shell. It's more organic than that, or it should be. And it's a bad look for a city that pays lip service to 'culture bearers' to shut down actual culture bearers outside a multi-million dollar festival where Pitbull and Katy Perry are pulling down huge salaries," read a biting column from Gambit Weekly editor Kevin Allman.
A tweet from the city following up on the news said it supported the NOPD, but did not offer additional clarity into what caused the intervention.
"New Orleans will always continue to support our culture & seeks ways to balance our traditions & neighbors," read the tweet.
Debbie Lindsey, who was at the home where the band finished their set, said that an officer initially told her the band needed a permit when she requested they play on their property.
“It was the best party we ‘never’ planned!” she said, after the officer returned with the news they were in the clear. The NOPD's statement did not address the relocation or what would require such a permit.
The incident drew a harsh reaction from the New Orleans Music & Culture Coalition of New Orleans, which derided police for both engaging in the "avoidable controversy" as well as not understanding ordinances that govern the common, city-wide practice of street music.
"It’s not unreasonable to expect that officers working ‘culturally heavy’ details like Jazz Fest have a basic knowledge of the laws that specifically relate to the culture they will doubtless come into contact with," read the statement, which acknowledged the department has made significant progress in this regard.
MaCCNO is an advocacy group that was created in 2012 in response to a crackdown on street music before New Orleans hosted Super Bowl 47, according to its site. Their statement went on to challenge the NOPD's framing of the incident as balancing residents' needs against that of the musicians.
"Musicians are residents too," the statement reads, "and just because a complaint is made against them they shouldn’t carry an automatic assumption of guilt."
Impromptu music performances and vendors selling food, water and other wares outside of the Fair Grounds during and after Jazz Fest each day are long-standing traditions. The party on the block next to Liuzza’s by the Track has been happening for about 20 years, neighbors said.
The festival began on Thursday, April 25 and its first weekend ran through Sunday. The second weekend begins with another "Locals Thursday" on May 2 and wraps up on May 5.
Going to Jazz Fest isn’t something most people do just once.