The French Quarter Fest has turned the proverbial corner. Near perfect weather and occasionally oppressive crowds created a new situation for the festival’s organizers to ponder over the upcoming year. When does big become too big?
I heard more complaints than ever before and witnessed lots of bad behavior on the part of the clearly record-setting crowd on Friday and Saturday. More on that later. Here are some musical highlights.
Festers unable or unwilling to get out early on Thursday morning missed an impressive set by jam/rock/funk ensemble Gravy. With a sax and trumpet front and center and a percolating organ and killer vocals calling to mind Stevie Winwood, the band, which has been together for eight years, gets my “most improved” award.
Immediately after they finished I scurried to the new Big River stage to hear Tank and the Bangas. This band, which is fronted by the vivacious Tarriona “Tank” Ball (pictured above and at top), is something special, playing original music that calls to mind a hodgepodge of influences from musical theater to Nicki Minaj and even Frank Zappa.
Twenty-one stages! All over the French Quarter! French Quarter Fest is in full swing on the weekend. It’s impossible to do it all, don’t even try. Here are our picks to get the most out of your musical weekend.
Brazilian music has much in common with the music of New Orleans. Chegadão combines the best of both worlds with high energy, danceable sounds. They are a little something different and may just expand your musical horizons, as you get ready for the Brazilian invasion during Jazz Fest. They hit at 12:30 PM on Saturday by the Old U.S. Mint.
If they strike your fancy and you want to hear more Brazilian music, you can’t go wrong with a stroll over to Royal Street for a set by Riccardo Crespo and Sol Brasil. Crespo is from the south of that giant country, but he has been living in New Orleans for years. He sings, plays guitar and harmonica, and usually has an accordion player on board.
From five stages on Thursday to eleven on Friday, the French Quarter Fest won’t even be in full swing until the weekend. But with Dr. John, the event’s marquee performer playing today, this could be the most crowded weekday in the history of the festival. He hits on the Abita Stage at 4 PM.
Feel like lounging on the lawn all day? You really can’t go wrong with Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers and the Roots of Music band bookending the good doctor and the Rebirth Brass Band closing out the day. Here’s a musical wish—will Kermit stick around to sit in with his old bandmates in the Rebirth?
The brass band stage has been moved to the Old U.S. Mint to make way for the new Big River stage on the Woldenberg lawn. They have a stellar lineup all day. My picks are Leroy Jones’ Original Hurricane Brass Band and the Stooges—two separate generations of brass band musicians with different styles.
TVD is proud to once again be a media sponsor of the French Quarter Festival. The “Little fest that could” is all grown up. They have added a big stage on the riverfront and have the best lineup in the event’s history. Here are our picks.
We have always referred to the Thursday at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival as “slacker’s day,” and now FQF has its own limited schedule to tempt you to head to the Quarter on a workday.
Start things off bright and early with PresHall Brass. It such a no brainer for the Preservation Hall organization to have a brass band that its amazing they didn’t put one together sooner.
M.C. Records is releasing Anders Osborne’s first post Katrina effort on vinyl and we’re giving one away to a lucky fan. Read on for details. It will be available next Tuesday, April 15, 2014.
The album features “Summertime In New Orleans,” a WWOZ stalwart, that references the music of Kermit Ruffins, Irma Thomas, and James Andrews being played on the radio station.
The recording is a stripped down affair partially recorded in Nashville and co-produced with Anders by Troy Verges (BMI country songwriter of the year). The musicians featured include Kirk Joseph, John Gros, and Eric Bolivar.
We sure have it easy in New Orleans during festival season. Two festivals, both of which are growing, are happening on Saturday within walking distance of each other. The Freret Street Festival, which runs from Jefferson Avenue to Napoleon Avenue on its namesake street has expanded to five stages. Craw Fest, on Tulane University’s campus, is now charging $10 admission. More on that later.
The best thing about Freret Fest is a chance to hear bands that you may have heard about but haven’t seen live yet. Tank and the Bangas are a neo-soul outfit turning heads all over town. They were the house band for the buzz-generating Nina Simone tribute at Chickie Wah Wah a few months back.
The front man for Baby Bee, Joe Stark almost stole the show at the recent Stones Fest at Tipitina’s. He more than held in own in the company of some veterans including Alex McMurray and Dave Malone.
Dubbed the “Jazz Fest Night Fishing Guide,” the eclectic group of music freaks is presenting eight shows during the 2014 Jazz Fest. The performance will feature standout musicians including Jon Batiste, BaianaSystem, Ed Volker, Rising Appalachia, Helen Gillet, and Nigel Hall. The shows will be at Café Istanbul, Chickie Wah Wah, and Club Caribbean.
Appropriately, given that the Jazz Fest is featuring artists from Brazil this year, things kick off with BaianaSystem, an acclaimed band from Bahia, Brazil, on April 24 at Club Caribbean. New Orleans’ own Hot 8 Brass Band opens.
The group will also appear the following night at Café Istanbul inside the New Orleans Healing Center at the eagerly awaited reprise of “A Night with Nina, ” a Nina Simone Tribute with Tank and the Bangas, Mykia Jovan, Angelika Joseph, and Erica Falls.
Beginning tonight, April 2, 2014, and for the next two Wednesdays, the Maple Leaf Bar will be presenting a New Orleans tribute to the great session bands and their respective record labels.
The house band features keyboardist/vocalist Nigel Hall, bassist Eric Vogel, guitarist Andrew Block, drummer Eric Bolivar, and the Naughty Professor Horns. Over the course of the three weeks, many special guests are expected. Raymond Weber will take over the drum chair next week.
The concept may require some explaining.
In celebration of the acclaimed percussionist/ vibraphonist’s latest recording, we have the exclusive on one of the standout tracks on the new album.
Fans of adventurous music in New Orleans are no strangers to Mike Dillon’s brand of danceable jazz/punk/funk. His band turned heads during two provocative sets at the 2014 MOMs Ball. Other recent performances have cemented his place on a long continuum of musicians pushing the envelope of what is called “New Orleans music.”
From his bio—”How many artists can claim being praised a ‘punk rock provocateur,’ ‘jazz vibraphone visionary,’ and ‘percussion virtuoso’ in the same sentence? There’s only one: Mike Dillon.”
Last year, more than 35,000 locals and visitors enjoyed the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo. In 2014, festers will once again be able to revel in music from three stages, enjoy diverse offerings from local food vendors, and shop the Boogaloo Art Market. As always, the free Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo is a family-friendly event with a kid’s stage, games, and activities.
Positive Vibrations Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and encourage community through development and preservation of arts, music, culture, and heritage, presents the 9th Annual Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo festival.
“We are thrilled to once again partner with the MotherShip Foundation to present the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo,” said Ben Faulks, Co Founder and Director of Positive Vibrations Foundation. ”The festival provides our community with a special time to come together on Bayou St. John each May, when and where both the arts and music are accessible to everyone and enjoyed by all,” he added.