The Bear Creek Bayou Festival arrives in New Orleans: Our picks for Friday, 9/30

Florida’s loss is the Crescent City’s gain. After nearly a decade in the Sunshine state, the Bear Creek music festival is moving to New Orleans. Taking advantage of the now well-proven site on the river at Mardi Gras World, the fest is reinvigorating its highly respected brand with two great days and nights of music. Here’s a look at our picks for Friday, September 30. The full lineup is here.

The gates open at 10 AM and the fest kicks off at 11 AM with the duel guitar, multi-percussionist, all-star African-inspired group, Pirate’s Choice. I just saw the band last weekend and was blown away again by Sam Dickey’s scintillating lines and percussionists Luke Quaranta and Weedie Brahmin’s perfectly synced rhythm section. It should be interesting seeing this band before noon.

Four New Orleans funk ensembles kick off at 4PM on alternate stages (with a small amount of overlap) before the main event. Soulive burst on the scene with a post-modern take on the organ trio almost fifteen years ago. Guitarist Eric Krasno, who recently produced and co-wrote Aaron Neville’s latest album, tears it up with drummer Alan Evans and keyboardist Neal Evans. The group rarely plays New Orleans outside of Jazz Fest season, so this is an event for soul jazz lovers. They are also playing tonight (Thursday, September 29) at the official pre-party at the Joy Theater.

I would be remiss not to mention that Earphunk, one of the most interesting bands to emerge from New Orleans in the last decade, is playing opposite Soulive. Sadly, this great band which reminded me of the Grateful Dead in some weird, parallel universe way, is calling it quits after this show at Bear Creek Bayou.

Funk lovers are going to have to make a choice or move quickly between stages in the early evening. Lettuce, a super group of sorts, which also features Eric Krasno, is playing opposite a real super group, Foundation of Funk. FOF features two founding members of the Meters, bassist George Porter, Jr. and drummer Zigaboo Modeliste.

The group has had a revolving cast and on Friday the band will feature guitarist Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds and keyboardist John Medeski of his namesake band, Medeski, Martin and Wood. With funk at the center of Bear Creek, this could be the funkiest set. Don’t tell headliner George Clinton!

Since the Budos Band is scheduled before George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic, it seems the organizers have bookended the festival with African-inspired acts. The Budos Band combines deep soul with African grooves to create a booty shake-inducing instrumental sound. They record on the Daptone label, the home of Sharon Jones, Antibalas, and other Brooklyn-based boutique bands.

Tomorrow—our picks for Saturday!

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