The last day of French Quarter Fest was just as gorgeous as the first 3. Sadly, for locals, the day started with the sad news that former Saint, Will Smith, had been shot 7 times leaving 3 children and a wife (who sustained 2 shots) behind. He had posted on Instagram, “Having a blast at the #fqf2016” earlier. Many of us wore Saints gear and checked for updates as the story evolved from one of random violence to something more thought-out and personal.
As for festing, we started the day with a Softshell Crab Po-Boy ($10) from Jack Dempsey’s then tried Love at First Bite’s Crawfish Pasta ($8) and my favorite, the Cochon de Lait Po-Boy ($8) from their partner, Walker’s Southern Style BBQ. We hit the Abita stage in time for party-band, the Bucktown All-Stars. Their playful covers included “Rubber Band Man” complete with a dance of silly, stretchy poses. 85 year old Joyce La Nasa joined on tambourine wearing her signature white gloves.
We grabbed a Nectar Creme ($4) from Plum Street Sno-Balls then headed back for the funky supergroup Raw Oyster Cult. Their distinguished members included the amazing John “Papa” Gros and The Radiators’ Dave Malone. Later, we headed into the Quarter for Glen David Andrews at the Irvin Mayfield Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta. He was playing some of his recent originals from the Redemption album for the crowd that spilled over into the lobby and courtyard.
Afterward, we cruised the many stages along Royal Street including the Crimestoppers Stage in front of the police station. Favorite street musicians, Tanya and Dorise, held court on their usual corner and beautiful St. Mary’s at the Ursulines Convent opened their doors for classical music.
After traversing the entire Quarter, Lagniappe Brass Band was playing when we got to the stages at The Mint. A high energy band that inspires hip shaking, I especially loved their brass reimagining of Nirvana’s “Teen Spirit.”
Our last meal of the fest was Korean Beef Po-Boy with Feta Fries ($10) from Three Muses and 2 giant Crawfish Family Platters ($40 each) with corn, andouille and potatoes (single serving $10). The first (and only) all-female brass band, the Original Pinettes Brass Band, closed out the Popeye’s Stage. The Pinettes hold the title of Red Bull Street Kings (Queens) and rocked the ample crowd with rousing originals and cool covers. I sang along loud-and-proud to original, “Ain’t No City Like the One I’m From” and danced myself silly to covers of Mardi Gras Indian standard, “Let’s Go Get ‘Em” and Adele’s “Hello.”
Attendance numbers for the fest aren’t in yet but promise to be record-breaking. Based on hands raised when bands asked, I’d say 2/3 of the crowd was from out of town. Sharing the city with that many visitors has its challenges but those growing food and beverage sales are what keep the festival free. I can’t even count how many bands I enjoyed for free, the food was great and the weather was ridiculous. I’m beat but I also can’t wait to see who they line up next year…