Return to Fesst: Jazz Fest Heritage Inside Out
by Scott Guion
Another silkscreen masterpiece from the mind’s eye and skilled hands of Scott Guion, creator of the last two sold-out collectible posters in this 47-year old print series - the most collected art project in the world. Wanna know what inspired this picture? Read on.
George Wein, jazz pianist and inventor of the modern music festival with his 1954 Newport Jazz Festival, was drawn to the music’s source in New Orleans. He arrived in 1969 needing two things to create a festival here in 1970: an insider's knowledge of the culture behind the music and local legs to make it real. He found both in Quint Davis and Allison Miner, then working together at Tulane's Hogan Jazz Archives. Urban legend has it that they met at Mother’s, the inimitable po-boy joint on Poydras (roast beef with debris) to kick around ways to showcase New Orleans’ special sauce. They had to raise their voices to be heard over the lunchtime crowd, clattering plates and the jukebox.
By the time their food arrived, most of the lawyers and tourists had gone, but the jukebox was still going. They grew silent as they ate until George raised his head, “Who’s that?” “Who’s who?” rejoined Quint. “The guy on the jukebox,” said George between bites. “Professor Longhair,” said Allison and Quint in unison. “That’s your Festival,” said George. And so it was, is and ever shall be.
Turns out the urban legend is not quite true. Quint first met George at Cafe du Monde, sans juke box and Allison. What is true is this: George immediately understood he was hearing the real deal, New Orleans’ true essence when he heard the Longhair record. It took another year - after the first Jazz Fest was in the books - for Quint to find “Fess” by chance at a “one-stop” record shop on Rampart Street. At that point “Fess” - Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd (1918 – 1980) had virtually disappeared, having not played publicly for 10 years.
Fess was their north star. They built arguably the truest and most culturally relevant music event in the world around him before they even met him. Assembling the Festival - a showcase of every strata of New Orleans music, food and culture for the first time ever in one place, is no mean achievement. But pulling Fess out of retirement, managed first by Quint and then by Allison, may top even that. When Fess played that second Festival, everything changed. A transfixed crowd gathered around his stage. That was the first glimmer of the Festival we know today.
Whatever they were eating when lightning struck, it was undoubtedly music’s greatest meal when they were inspired by that old 45. And whatever luck brought Quint into that one-stop on that day at the very moment Roy was also checking the vinyl, was serendipity beyond compare. And on it goes; back in 2021 true to all that Fess and his revival represents.
Guion bends altered reality to his will with a stunningly surreal bit of jujitsu, leveraging the past year’s interior life into inspiration, reimagining Fess performing for a 21st century audience; spanning and compressing decades from Fess to “Fesstival.” Flipping outside in, his meticulous visual metaphor simultaneously mines the Festival’s origins and Fess's rediscovery, paralleling and presenting music once sequestered in back-o-town clubs and warehouses, then briefly silent, now celebrated again. Speaking of again, the great New Orleans artist, George Dureau (1930 - 2014) created a monumental initial Fess poster for the 1999 Festival. Check it out.
For the first time in the poster’s 47 year history, the Festival itself is portrayed, bringing it all home. Guion pivots around Longhair, the only-in-New Orleans original who redefined music’s potential and set a course for a future we’re still navigating today. The world ultimately caught on, thanks in no small part to the three producers. Fess’ Grammy (for a record produced by Quint) and induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, were posthumously awarded. But what he created will live forever as “Fesst;” sonically in his records and in the hundreds of acts that play Jazz Fest inspired by his musical inventions, and visually in Guion’s brilliant distillation of time immemorial in a world unimaginable without the man and the legend - or an artist who leaves it all on the Fesstival field.
About the Artist
Scott Guion is an artist & musician born in New Orleans in 1971. His murals and paintings are in museums, entertainment venues, and private collections coast to coast. His 2019 & 2020 Jazz Fest posters sold out as they were offered. His large-scale commissions for the House Of Blues, Hard Rock Cafe, B.B. King’s Blues Cafe and The Grand Ole Opry are widely admired for their idiosyncratic fidelity, color tone and visual harmonies.
His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, People, Billboard and NY Arts magazines, among others. His individual patrons include Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Amy Grant and many more. Now you know what they know - what your eyes already told you: Guion’s synthesis of music, personality and paint is nothing short of brilliant. Katrina blew Guion out of New Orleans. He currently resides in Nashville with his wife and son.
10,000 Numbered silkscreen prints on archival paper, 25” x 37”, $95
2,500 Artist Signed & Numbered silkscreen prints with an added homage imprint on 100% rag paper, 25” x 37”, $245
750 Remarques Artist Signed & Numbered silkscreen prints with homage imprint and unique hand embellishment by the Artist & bearing the estate-stamped signature of Professor Longhair on 100% rag paper, 25” x 37”, $595
350 C-Marques Artist Overpainted, Artist Signed & Numbered with homage imprint and the estate-stamped signature of Professor Longhair silkscreened on canvas, selectively overpainted by Guion & suitable for stretching; unstretched size 27” x 39”, $995.
Framing is only available for a limited time. Our frames are crafted from archival materials finished in beautiful satin black. The framed Unsigned print uses a 1.25" profile frame. The Signed and ReMarque edition frames have a .875" front profile with a 1" depth, creating an elegant shadowbox effect. The float-mounted ReMarque edition showcases the full size of the archival print in a larger gallery format, adding 1" to 1.5" of pH neutral matte around the full sheet presentation. Matted prints feature a 1.25" to 1.75" wide white neutral pH matte depending on the edition. Although Art4Now's oil-based silkscreen inks are highly stable, our glass-clear acrylic adds additional archival protection, blocking 87% of UV rays. All framed prints come fully assembled and ready to hang! Art4Now does not provide retail framing services onsite. Shipping charges for framed orders are for the U.S. only. International orders will incur additional shipping charges.
* Frames shown are digital simulations.
Poster specifications & digital image may vary slightly from actual prints.
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