Great Day In New Orleans

"The who's who is here, this musical congregation is outstanding, and it certainly shows the links in the chain of the city’s musical traditions”. ~ Allen Toussaint

The story behind New Orleans music history all in one image.

A Moment In Time

It was a bright and sunny day in New Orleans.

On October 14th, 1998, sixty-three legendary musicians, spanning three generations, gathered in Armstrong Park to capture a “decisive moment in time” in the photograph, A Great Day in New Orleans.

New Orleans’ legend, Dr. John wanted to honor the city’s finest musicians at a “Musical Family Reunion.” At the time, he was working on a documentary film with Louisiana filmmaker, Lawrence Cumbo. He asked Cumbo to create a photograph inspired by Art Kane’s iconic 1958 jazz portrait, later known as A Great Day in Harlem

The Image

After months of planning, the acclaimed artists gathered together to celebrate their diverse talents and remarkable  influence on American music. It became an all day party in the Treme’. Just a few of the musicians  illuminated in the photo are Allen Toussaint, George Porter Jr, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Harry Connick Sr, James Andrews, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Tab Benoit, Ernie-K-Doe, Marva Wright and Cosimo Matassa. 

As Allen Toussaint expressed that day,, “the who's who is here, this musical congregation is outstanding, and it certainly shows the links in the chain of the city’s musical traditions”. 

Now, twenty-five years later, Cumbo is embarking on a journey to bring the surviving “Greats" and the next generation of musicians together in a new documentary film. 

Photo by Lawrence Cumbo

Mayoral Permit

Site Plan

Rushing To Enter, 1982

These dancers show off their moves in 1977.

The Musicians

We went looking for some of the best tracks by these amazing musicians.

Here is a playlist we made to celebrate this amazing day and image.


Lawrence Cumbo

Lawrence Cumbo is most widely known for the Emmy nominated film he shot, wrote and produced for National Geographic, Search for the Afghan Girl. The headline-making story, chronicling the discovery of Afghan refugee, Sharbat Gula, whose photograph first appeared on the cover of the National Geographic magazine in 1985. The film won several other awards, including a CINE Golden Eagle Award and a Gold World Medal at the New York Festivals.

In 2000, Cumbo accepted a staff producer position with National Geographic Television and Film. His films for National Geographic have taken him many places around the world, including war-torn Afghanistan, the rim of an active volcano in Guatemala, inside a tornado in Texas, the world’s largest prison in India, and he hiked with two eye surgeons through Maoist Rebel controlled territory in Nepal to the Himalayan Kingdom of Mustang for his award-winning film, Miracle Doctors. Other films he made for National Geographic EXPLORER include: Arkansas Anaconda, Through These Eyes, BioBlitz!. Special Forces: On the Frontlines, Mothers Behind Bars and One Wild Ride: Yukon to Yellowstone. During his tenure at Nat Geo, Cumbo joined the National Geographic Channel, at the time, a new start-up network. He served as Supervising/Executive Producer and managed the editorial of over sixty hours of original programming annually, including such hits as Inside the Mafia, In the Womb, Expeditions to the Edge, Dark Side of Chimps and Megastructures.

He was appointed Senior Producer with National Geographic Specials and Events Production. In addition to supervising editorial during this time, he filmed, wrote and produced the groundbreaking special, Tornado Intercept, and the shocking film about Hurricane Katrina, Drowning New Orleans.

Beginning in 2006, Cumbo served as an Executive Producer for overseas giants Tiger Aspect Productions and Natural History New Zealand LTD. Some series and specials he led during his time abroad include: I Survived, Orangutan Island, Jurassic CSI, Celebrating the American Woman, Dark Days in Monkey City, Ms. Adventure, Rookies, Expedition Antarctica and Tornado Chasers.

In 2010, Cumbo returned to the US and bought the historic Shepherdstown Opera House. He created a multi-use live entertainment venue, where he promoted and produced hundreds of live events each year. Combining his filmmaking career with his entrepreneurship, Cumbo joined forces with the Smithsonian Channel to create Rocking the Opera House: Dr. John. New Orleans Times Picayune wrote, “In Rocking the Opera House: Dr. John, Cumbo creates a visionary, intimate, character-driven crossover music documentary. He delicately weaves a superb live performance in his 108 year-old Opera House with personal archives of the Grammy legend, Dr. John.

Prior to joining National Geographic, Cumbo created the Media Alliance for Social Healing (MASH), a non-profit organization designed to teach children in Louisiana, Video Production. MASH served over 7,000 students in 34 public schools. He served as Vice-President of Imagine Asia, a non-profit organization he co-created with photographer Steve McCurry. Imagine Asia™ main mission is building schools in Central Asia. Today, he is a returning board member of the American Conservation Film Festival.

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