A hundred years ago Mark Twain said, “We picked up one excellent word – a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get… It is the thirteenth roll in a baker’s dozen. It is something thrown in gratis, for good measure.” I also learned the word, ‘lagniappe’, on my first trip to New Orleans. It’s the little something extra that makes all the difference. It is the reason why the gumbo is better at one restaurant than another and the secret isn’t in the recipe.
Late in the 4th quarter of 2014, my friend Nabiel Shawa, the City Manager of Walla Walla, WA. received a call from a stranger suggesting that he take on a major challenge that could turn the city upside down.
The stranger was from Madison House Presents, a promoter of rock concerts worldwide. The proposal was to host the 2015 Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Tour, featuring Mumford and Sons, the Foo Fighters, and eight other acts.
Walla Walla is a farming community that has become a great weekend destination for wine enthusiasts from Seattle or Portland. The promoter was proposing a music festival that would double the population (31,000) for a weekend; a massive undertaking for this small community.
The major acts took place at the college soccer stadium – there was standing room only and good music into the night. Walla Walla went beyond that. Multiple stages were built downtown, where local and regional musicians performed in between the big acts. As a result of the partnership between the City of Walla Walla and Madison House Presents, this was an outstanding weekend of music, community spirit, people having a good time and behaving well in the process. Mumford and Sons’ vision of bringing music to the people was met through collaboration and good planning, well executed by many committed people. The weekend went way beyond a simple concert and that’s the something extra that made all the difference.
Well done! In honor of the City of Walla Walla team who made it happen, a lagniappe contribution will be made to the YWCA of Walla Walla.