In the beginning the Jazz Fest gods said, “Let there be music. Let like-minded people gather to rejoice in the sounds.  Feed them, body and soul. Join them together in a kindred spirit of unknown joy, peace and friendship that will bring them back together year after year”

And thus it began…

What started as a simple, bare bones forum for finding information on the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (aka Jazz Fest) in the mid ‘90’s, the official forum at www.nojazzfest.com has evolved into a functioning online social community of friends from all walks of life, united by a love of music, food and all things New Orleans. In 2003 they adopted the name “Threadheads”.

Although the Jazz Fest season runs for just 10 days every spring, this evolving group of folks from all over the world continue to participate on the forum year round. Online friendships have become real world friendships. The group’s daily meet-ups at Jazz Fest have grown from a few folks to several dozen each day and an annual “days between” party (lovingly misspelled “Patry”) has become a highlight of the week. Outwardly, Threadheads are a fun-lovin’, concert-goin’, booty shakin’, hard partyin’, sometimes silly bunch… but the group has a serious side, too.

After the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, the Threadheads were united by a strong desire to help – to give something back to the city that had brought them so much joy. Starting in 2006, the yearly Threadhead Patry, originally conceived to give participants a way to meet face to face, was turned into a fundraiser and the Threadhead Charity Raffle, offering music and New Orleans-related items as prizes, was organized. Forum participants supported both efforts with their hearts and wallets and each year brings in thousands of dollars benefiting both the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and our own Threadhead Cultural Foundation.

During the months that preceded the 2006 Fest, the Threadheads discovered that one of the charity beverage booths at Fest was in trouble. Lena Stewart was having problems finding enough volunteers to staff the Zulu Diamondcutters’ booth. Many of the members of the Diamondcutters had been displaced by Katrina and it looked like the group would have to give up their largest annual fundraising opportunity. But the Threadheads came to her rescue and, since 2006, have organized and volunteered en masse for Ms. Lena’s Brigade. Since that initial year, hundreds of volunteers have made the annual booth possible allowing the Diamondcutters to continue their community service projects.

Additionally, in 2006 another group of Threadheads were motivated to create and organize FestAid, an effort to ensure that volunteers could find opportunities to assist and support local charitable organizations in their work to rebuild New Orleans. Focusing on the days in between the two weekends of Fest, FestAid resulted in 205 people, most of whom were Threadheads, performing over 380 volunteer assignments. Volunteers sorted and repackaged food donations at Second Harvest of Greater New Orleans, cleaned out and demolished the interior of homes in St. Bernard Parish for Habitat for Humanity, began building homes in the Musicians Village with Habitat for Humanity, filled feeding stations for displaced animals with Animal Rescue New Orleans, picked up trash along city thoroughfares with Katrina Krewe and cleaned out and demolished the interiors of local musicians’ homes with the Arabi Wrecking Krewe.

In 2007 Threadhead Records, an unprecedented fan-funded and volunteer-run record company was formed out of this group’s love for New Orleans, its music and its musicians.  Each CD project is funded by the fans themselves through THR; the money is loaned to the artist and is paid back by the musicians with a percentage going to charity.  As of 2012, over fifty projects have been funded for artists including John Boutté, Paul Sanchez, New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Shamarr Allen, Camile Baudroin, Spencer Bohren, and many others.

In the summer of 2007, Fest4Kidz was organized to raise money to send the Silence is Violence Youth Music Clinic kids to fest for a day. By spring 2008 enough money had been donated by participants in the forum to pay for the admission, food and transportation for each child (and a chaperone) who wanted to attend. This project grew to include helping to sponsor the clinics themselves and collecting new and used instruments to give to kids that need them.  As of 2011, Fest4Kidz became a part of the Threadhead Cultural Foundation.

In 2009, the non-profit Threadhead Cultural Foundation 501(c)(3) was launched to promote the cultural heritage of New Orleans through grants and assistance to musicians, artists, and others involved in endeavors relating to music and other artistic expressions whose work is in the tradition of preserving, promoting and disseminating the cultural heritage of New Orleans and the surrounding area of Louisiana.

The Foundation raises funds through memberships, fundraising events and donations. Funds raised are granted to artists and artistic projects through an application process usually conducted one or more times each year

Because of their strong attachment to the people and culture of New Orleans, this marvelous group of people continues to support these projects, helping to ensure the heart of their beloved New Orleans continues to beat.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Meade

For more information on the various Threadhead projects and organizations, please see the links at left.

We are actively seeking donations of prizes & sponsors for the next Threadhead Raffle and Threadhead Patry. If you would like to donate to the Raffle, please contact the Raffle Coordinator, Gail Kellum, by clicking HERE, or use the form HERE. If you would like to sponsor the Patry, please contact the Patry Coordinator, Nanci Lang, by clicking HERE. Want to join the Threadhead chat? Visit the forum by clicking HERE