The footprint of the French Quarter Festival expands to twenty-three—count them, twenty-three—stages for the final two days. There is more music happening in New Orleans this weekend than at virtually any other festival in the world. Here are our picks for each day. The full lineup is here.
Put on your dancing shoes early Saturday morning for Daria and the Hip Drops at 11 AM. The band, which is led by Daria Dzurik on steel pan and vocals, blends rocksteady, pop, and funk styles with electronic samples, funky bass lines, and Caribbean based-rhythms creating a unique, danceable concoction.
Funk Monkey is a band that mines soul jazz territory and groove music with a decidedly New Orleans feel and features trombonist Greg Hicks and guitarist Bert Cotton from Bonerama.
One band I never fail to check out at FQF is Magnetic Ear. Led by an “alien of extraordinary ability,” saxophonist Martin Krusche, the band is like a New Orleans brass band, but decidedly different. Krusche is from Germany, hence the aforementioned description, which is also the title of one of their albums.
PHOTO ABOVE: CAITLYN RIDENOUR | The real estate encompassing the French Quarter Festival expands by seven stages to include the French Market, the Old U.S. Mint, and the new Spanish Plaza stage which debuted last year. Here are our picks for day two of the annual event. The full schedule is here.
Bluesman and bandleader Marc Stone kicks things off at 11 AM on the Pavilion stage in Woldenberg Park. Stone has been delivering impassioned performances with top-notch musicians in interesting configurations for years. Festival season is his bread and butter, so expect a first class show.
Sweet Crude, led by Sam Craft and Alexis Marceaux (pictured at top), have been TVD favorites since the francophone indie band’s debut performance. They play on the Abita Beer stage at 12:35 PM. Expect high energy dance music to get at least some of the crowd up and out of their chairs.
TEXT: TRENT DUNBAR | PHOTOS: TRENT DUNBAR and HILLARY KURLAND | The Freret Street Festival is a one day neighborhood festival in Uptown New Orleans. The main business corridor along six blocks of Freret Street is blocked off to traffic allowing neighborhood residents and visitors to peruse the endless vendors selling everything from vintage records to upcycled art and even fried shrimp on a stick, as well as three stages featuring a variety of local favorites. This year’s lineup included numerous established New Orleans acts as well as a number of up-and-coming young bands from nearby Loyola and Tulane universities.
The first time I saw Stoop Kids was about four years ago at a wild show packed into the Circle Bar. My most vivid memory of that night was everyone in the tiny bar going absolutely berserk during their cover of Blink-182’s “Stay Together for the Kids.”
Although they have finished up with college, their set Saturday afternoon managed to keep the high energy vibes I remember with front man Griffin Dean hopping down off the stage, running around the crowd, and dancing and singing with fans down front. Their songs incorporated multiple genres, covering everything from soul, Latin, funk, noise, and straight ahead rock.
The annual French Quarter Festival kicks off bright and early tomorrow morning, 4/7, with a second line parade through the old city beginning at 10 AM. TVD is happy to report that we are sponsors of the event for the fifth year in a row. Here are our picks for Thursday. The full lineup is here.
Thursday, also known as Locals Day, is packed with talent on the five stages that are up and running. The inimitable Deacon John gets things rockin’ at 11 AM on the Abita Beer stage. Moore is a legend in these parts and he never fails to deliver an outstanding set.
The next time slot is packed with hometown favorites including vocalist John Boutte, Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers, and the Joe Krown Trio featuring Walter “Wolfman” Washington and Russell Batiste. But since French Quarter Fest is a sort of warm up to the Jazz Fest, the granddaddy of local fests, why not check out someone relatively new to the scene?
I would like to say that French music and Francophone culture is making a resurgence in New Orleans, but the fact is it never went away. It just seems like things are getting more French in these parts lately. Sunday, a wide array of musicians will be performing at Café Istanbul for an afternoon of French music, dancing, drinking, and partying from 2 PM until 5 PM.
Some of the musicians scheduled to perform include Helen Gillet, Sarah Quintana, Yegor Romantsov (of Debauche), Alexandra Scott, Albinas and Manon Prizgintas, John Curry (of Blind Texas Marlin and Felix), Micah McKee (of Little Maker), Jeff Pagano, Natalie Mae, and Speed Up the Orchestra.
The party is organized by a company founded by a “Cajun boy and an Alsatian girl,” which is dedicated to promoting Louisiana culture in France and French culture in Louisiana. The event also has partners representing many aspects of French culture in Louisiana including the French Consulate, local French immersion schools, CODOFIL (the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana), and the New Orleans Musicians Clinic.
Mardi Gras Indian music continues to evolve in New Orleans. On Friday, April 1, the latest album of the classic sounds of the streets of New Orleans hits record stores. But TVD has it here first! The album Funk ‘N’ Feathers from Cha Wa features Spy Boy “Honey” Bannister of the Creole Wild West and Spy Boy J’Wan Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles on lead vocals and tambourines. Ben Ellman—the saxophonist of Galactic and a rising star in the world of music production—was behind the board for its recording.
Drummer Joe Gelini, who leads the band with Bannister, is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music and has immersed himself in the music of the black Indians of New Orleans since the first time he saw them on Fat Tuesday. He said, “We have so much respect for the elders who came before us; because of this respect, we wanted to make this record the right way. This meant (only) going into the studio after developing our own interpretation of the music.” His partner in the percussion section is famed Indian drummer, Norwood “Geechie” Johnson.
Geechie has been part of the Mardi Gras Indian world for decades. He played with Bo Dollis’ legendary stage band, the Wild Magnolias, for many years and was a parading member of the tribe. Guitarist John Fohl, late of Dr. John’s band, and pianist Yoshitaka “Z2” Tsuji of Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers are featured on the album.
The hurricane that devastated Haiti in 2010 left lasting destruction, occasionally still making the news in the United States. One positive to emerge from the mess is the debut release from Lakou Mizik which formed in the wake of the natural disaster.
Like in New Orleans, music is at the core of Haiti’s identity. And like in New Orleans following the flood after Hurricane Katrina, a new generation of musicians is keeping the music and culture alive.
The band is a multigenerational collective of Haitian musicians including elder legends and rising young talents, united in a mission to honor the healing spirit of their collective culture and communicate a message of pride, strength, and hope to their countrymen and the world.
TEXT AND PHOTOS: TRENT DUNBAR | The 2016 T-Bois Blues Festival took place March 17-19, on a small crawfish and alligator farm in Larose, Louisiana. Featuring camping, food, beer, and some of the best blues artists from across the south and nationally, T-Bois is an experience like no other. Known as the “Cajun Burning Man,” this year’s burn included a wooden hoop adorned with the NOLA Brewing logo, three giant teepee bonfires, and the classic T-Bois burn—a giant guitar-playing gator named Al that shot flames out of its mouth as the fire roared up through its body.
This year’s lineup included numerous new acts for me including the Jason Ricci Band, the Ben Miller Band, Jonathan “Boogie” Long (pictured at top and below) and The Congress, in addition to old favorites like the Lost Bayou Ramblers (photo below jump) , the Colin Lake Band, and Anders Osborne.
The Jason Ricci Band was the first act I was able to see after I was done wrestling my tent into submission at my campsite. Jason Ricci makes no secret of his affinity for punk rock. From his look to his tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating jokes told between songs, Ricci knows how to draw the audience in and keep them invested. In addition to being a talented vocalist, Ricci plays impressive harmonica.
Saturday night, the Radiators’ singer/songwriter and keyboardist Ed Volker will be appearing at Chickie Wah Wah with special guest, percussionist Michael Skinkus. Members of the Iguanas will be his backing band including saxophonist Joe Cabral, guitarist Rod Hodges, bassist Rene Coman, and drummer Doug Garrison.
Ed Volker’s prolific post-Radiators run of new songs and recordings continues with the recent release of Look Glass Trick, which was released under the moniker of his nom de musique, Zeke Fishhead. The album features eleven new tunes and a new level of production expertise for his series of self-made albums.
Guitarist Mike Doussan, also known as “West Bank” Mike, will open the show with his acoustic trio featuring Harry Hardin on violin, Chris Nolte on guitar, and Dave Pomerleau on upright bass.
Show time is 9 PM. Tickets are available at the door.
This morning, the paddock at the New Orleans Fairgrounds was abuzz. Dignitaries, including Mayor Mitch Morial, gathered around a podium while Walter “Wolfman” Washington and the Roadmasters struck up a high-energy R&B tune. It was the annual press party announcing the stage and time lineups at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
After some short speeches, this year’s posters were unveiled. The main poster celebrates the Marsalis family of musicians. The Congo Square poster honors the late great bluesman, B.B. King. Quint Davis, the producer/director of the fest, said about King, “He’s part of the DNA of our festival.” He also announced that the all five musical members of the Marsalis family—Ellis, Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo, and Jason—will be signing the poster’s most collectable version. “A first for the Marsalises and the fest,” he said.
A favorite pastime among festers is studying the cubes looking for interesting matchups and of course, the inevitable conflicts. I gave each day a quick peek before setting down to write.