After Live Nation promoter Mike Luba made an offhand remark during a meeting with Fort Lauderdale, Fla., city commissioners about a proposed annual weekend concert, he soon realized that, to many fans, jazz is no joke.
During a June 17th city commission meeting, Live Nation requested the city not allow any music festivals to compete with a proposed LN fest that would start next spring. City commissioner Christine Teel asked for clarification.
"If someone was going to have an opera festival on the beach … if it was a number of jazz groups that came on the beach, is that a competitive festival that you would consider would be banned?" Teel asked, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Luba responded, "We’re doing everything we can to eliminate jazz from American culture."
The paper noted that while some audience members laughed at the remark, others booed. Luba told the paper that after the Sun-Sentinel’s report was printed the following day, he received numerous e-mails from offended jazz lovers.
The promoter explained to the paper that he made the comment "totally in the moment, to break the tension," and that "it was 100 percent a joke."
"Our company does thousands of jazz shows a year and jazz is the foundation of everything we do," Luba told the Sun-Sentinel, who noted the promoter said he loves jazz and plans to include jazz in the festival.
"Mr. Luba’s unfortunate comment, although made in jest and taken out of context, nevertheless was offensive and in no way represents Live Nation’s attitudes toward jazz," Live Nation spokesman John Vlautin told Pollstar. "We produce hundreds of jazz concerts around the world annually and, in fact, support all musical forms and discriminate against none of them. Our mission is to give music fans what they want and many of them clearly want jazz."
During the meeting, Fort Lauderdale city commissioners gave the OK for city staff to work on an agreement with Live Nation to start putting together the festival’s artist roster.
Luba told commissioners he’d like the fest to be as "equally beloved" by Fort Lauderdale as New Orleans’ Jazzfest is in The Big Easy.