LSU Libraries’ T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History Offers Podcast Featuring Interviews on History of Jazz Fest

05/02/2013 03:42 PM

BATON ROUGE – The latest podcast in the “What Endures” series from LSU’s T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, part of LSU Libraries Special Collections, features an interview with an LSU cultural anthropologist about the history of one of the state’s most well-known and well-attended festivals, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.


Helen Regis, an associate professor in the LSU Department of Geography and Anthropology, is working with her LSU students and a fellow cultural anthropologist, Nicholls State University’s Shana Walton, to conduct oral history interviews with long-time Jazz Fest staff, workers and attendees. Regis is also partnering with Rachel Lyons from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Archive and with Jennifer Abraham Cramer, director of the LSU Libraries’ Williams Center for Oral History, to establish and preserve the collection. Also in the episode, former praline vendor and current festivalgoer Claudia Dumestres recalls the beginnings of Jazz Fest in Congo Square, where she saw such acts as Duke Ellington, Woody Allen, Allen Fontenot and the Country Cajuns, Albert King and Dizzy Gillespie. John Lehon, a Jazz Fest storyteller, also shares with listeners a story about the “Teeny Weeny Woman” and her teeny weeny surprise ending.


This “What Endures” podcast episode features a brief interview with Regis, who sat down with Cramer before the kickoff of this year’s Jazz Fest to talk about the oral history project. They discuss how she and her LSU students interviewed Jazz Fest vendors, construction crew members, an artist, a storyteller, an event producer as well as seasoned festival goers. Regis also speaks of the value of this service learning class, which provides her students an opportunity to conduct hands-on research.  Service-learning classes like Regis’ are supported through the Center for Community Engagement, Learning and Leadership, or CCELL. For more information about CCELL, visit


The oral histories collected in this project will be housed at both partner institutions and will eventually be available to researchers online through the Williams Center’s collection on the Louisiana Digital Library.  


To listen to the podcast, as well as to past episodes, and to learn more about the Jazz Fest project and the interviewees, visit


For more information on the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History, visit

Aaron  Looney 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Thursday, May 2, 2013