Weekend Shots, French Quarter Fest Edition!

Where to begin? It’s three more days and nights of music in the oldest neighborhood in the city. Without any further ado, here are my picks for where you’ll be. Click the daily links for the full schedule.

Start Friday bright and early at 11 AM with the Soul Project. Guitarist Christian Duque spent years under the tutelage of Walter “Wolfman” Washington, so he knows his way around a guitar and a soul song. Alex McMurray immediately follows them on the Abita Beer stage. He’s another musician who knows his way around a guitar. Although I wouldn’t call his inventive songs soul, they may have you laughing out loud.

You could just stay at the Abita stage all day, because Irene Sage is up next with her Tribute to Coco Robicheaux (pictured above) The gone-before-his-time hoodoo bluesman is depicted on this year’s French Quarter Fest poster astride Andrew Jackson’s horse in Jackson Square. She’s bound to have a who’s who of Robicheaux’s musician friends on stage.

Get out of the crowds at 4:30 PM and head over to the Legacy/brass band stage for a set by Magnetic Ear. This jazz band will have you up and dancing. And, if I remember correctly, you may even be giggling a bit when you listen closely to the inherent humor in some of the saxophonist Martin Krusche’s songs.

Just like yesterday, you have a choice between a big closing act on the main stage and a high energy brass band set on the much smaller stage just a few hundreds yards upriver. Bonerama will definitely get the crowd going, but so will the Soul Rebels. It’s your choice, or check ‘em both out.

In my mind, Saturday is a day for digging some of the best talent New Orleans has to offer or for seeking out some interesting bands and musicians that just might blow your mind even if you’ve never heard of them.

If you choose the former option, you can’t go wrong at the Abita Beer stage. Rocker Mia Borders opens the day and as the sun moves across the sky you can catch Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers and George Porter, Jr. and the Runnin’ Pardners among other acts.

But if you are willing to move around the vast 14-block festival site, consider Riccardo Crespo and Sol Brasil. Crespo (pictured above) is from the south of Brazil and is one of my favorite artists and he always brings an ace band to his festival performances. He plays on the intimate Latin/world stage on the old U.S. Mint grounds at 12:45 PM.

Right after Crespo’s set, the Tin Men set up at another stage right around the side of the Mint. Led by Alex McMurray on guitar, the group also features Matt Perrine on sousaphone and Washboard Chaz on, well, washboard. They do lots of very cool covers and some equally compelling originals.

Zip right back to the Latin/world stage for Debauche. These guys play Russian mafia music and they are a hoot. Although the songs are about criminals, street thugs and are filled with tales of heart-breaking tragedy, you won’t care unless you speak Russian. They will have you dancing like a Cossack. Their new album gives you a hint of their mindset. It’s called Cossacks on Prozac.

There are dozens of other worthy acts worth seeking out, but my last recommendation is not to be missed. On a stage set up right outside the House of Blues on Decatur Street will be Khris Royal and Dark Matter. Royal’s pedigree includes playing sax with George Porter, Jr., but in this setting he will be burning on his own jazz/funk compositions. I saw their set last year on the same stage and it was intimate and smokin’.

The big question mark on my schedule on Sunday is the Royal Southern Brotherhood (pictured above). This supergroup features two of the biggest names in music from the southland. But no one I know has heard them live yet. Of course, if your last name is Neville or Allman, you can do no wrong in my book. Cyril Neville and Devon Allman, Gregg’s son, lead the band. They hit on the Abita stage at 4 PM and are followed by another of New Orleans’ favorite sons, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue.

Earlier in the day, the Davis Rogan Band hits at 12:30 PM at the Malibu Rum/Esplanade in the Shade stage by the old U.S. Mint. Davis has gotten his fifteen minutes of fame via the HOB series Tremé. But he has been in the trenches of the New Orleans music biz for decades. His songs are entertaining and he always brings a first class band.

Vagabond Swing is a gypsy/soul act (I just made up that genre, but they play fiddles and such with such soul that I’m stickin’ to it). I caught them in a classic “stumble” (if you’re unfamiliar with that term, you haven’t read my new book yet!) at last year’s French Quarter Festival on the recommendation of a friend. They hail from Lafayette and are full of energy, though you may mistake them at first for some steam punk buskers. I know I did.  Regardless of their sartorial decisions, I‘m looking forward to checking them out again. They hit at the House of Blues stage at 1:30 PM.  See you there!

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  • JoanAlbaneseMallotides

    Do NOT….do not miss the Royal Southern Brotherhood….trust me on this one. And yes….I have seen them live…twice…in NYC and Hudson NY. Not only do they have Cyril Neville and Devon Allman but let us not forget the Blues Award winner Mike Zito!!!  Add Yonrico Scott  (Derek Trucks Band)…and Charlie Wooton (Charlie Wooton Project)…and you have a tight SUPER group. Don’t miss a chance to see them at their beginnings….you can thank me later. 😉


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