Roberta Grove column for March 7, 2013

Musicians contribute their support to ‘Jazz in the Park’

Sowing Seeds in Sacred Ground was the theme recently for the inaugural spring soiree benefiting the People United for Armstrong Park.

The fundraiser, which was sponsored by businessman Michael Valentino, was held atop Basin Street Station. Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction and music by some of New Orleans’ greats helped to generate much-needed funds to support the organization’s Jazz in the Park music series.

Performers for the night included Bill Summers, Donald Harrelson and James Andrews. About 100 PUFAP patrons packed the house to enjoy some great music for a wonderful cause.

“Armstrong Park culturally connects people to the historic Treme community,” said Karen Lozinski, director of public relations for PUFAP. “When we first started our concert series, we attracted around 1,500 people to the park. This past year, more than 4,000 people attended our concerts. The monies raised from the event tonight will help us to fund this year’s concert series, which kicks off April 18 and runs through June 13.”

The opening act will feature jazz trumpeter James Andrews.

The 2013 PUFAP music season marks the group’s third consecutive year of music programming in Armstrong Park.

People United for Armstrong Park is a volunteer-based organization founded by Ben Harwood. Originally, the group’s mission was focused on reopening the park post-Katrina. Over the past three years, PUFAP has successfully initiated the concert series, expanding the offering to include local artists that reflect the rich cultural history of the Treme neighborhood.

One of the most important functions of PUFAP has evolved with the cooperation and support of the Housing Authority of New Orleans. The group hires and trains high-risk and formerly incarcerated individuals, thus providing applicable job skills as a path forward to a better life.

Armstrong Park, which is named after the great Louis Armstrong, is truly one of New Orleans’ most culturally rich resources.

Located on Rampart Street, the park is a gateway for the Treme neighborhood.

Designed by New Orleans architect Robin Riley, the 32-acre park is home to the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, the Municipal Auditorium and Congo Square.

It was also the site of the very first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

For more information on the People United for Armstrong Park, visit www.pufap.org. Also don’t forget to mark your calendar for its first spring concert, when James Andrews performs April 18.

La Vie de Ville captures city life New Orleans style every Thursday in The Advocate New Orleans Community News Section. Please email information on your upcoming event to robertagrove@hotmail.com.