Friday, more of the eventual 20 stages of indigenous music and over-50 local food booths opened for French Quarter Fest. My favorite festival of the year, it’s also one of the city’s most profitable – generating an economic impact of $190 million in 2019.
We walked past the dance lessons in full swing at the French Market before starting our day near the Aquarium with Valerie Sassyfras of America’s Got Talent fame. Her memorable original, Girl’s Night Out, may not have gotten her past the second week of competition, but it made her a cult celeb.
Miss Sassyfras put on quite a show. Continue reading
Day 2 of French Quarter Fest supplied more beautiful weather, fabulous food and some of our region’s best music. Nightingale-voiced Sarah Quintana started our day with her Miss River Band. She played whimsical, ethereal originals and a wonderful cover of “Natural Woman.” Brunch was a Crawfish and Goat Cheese Crepe ($7) from Muriel’s Jackson Square, Two Pieces of Fried Chicken with Potato Salad ($8) from McHardy’s Chicken & Fixin’ and Fried Green Tomatoes with Remoulade ($6) from Wink’s Bakery. Continue reading
For 32 years, Irma Thomas and The Professionals has played Mother’s Day at the Audubon Zoo. Admission is free for mothers so the park was full of smiling women and the families trying to please them. Aurora Nealand & The Royal Roses were onstage when we arrived. We listened to a couple of their fun Dixieland tunes then took a stroll around the zoo. I love the giraffes, birds, big cats and primates, but I’m fascinated by elephants so I was bummed that the elephant area is still under construction. The new water park was up and running and looked like a lot of fun for a family looking to cool off.
Miss Irma Thomas, has been performing for so long that many of the grandparents in the crowd fell in love to her songs at school dances when they were kids. It’s fun to watch the grey-haired fans turn into energized teenagers when she takes the stage. Continue reading
The final day of this year’s French Quarter Fest began with a huge rain storm that blew in after midnight. For the lucky people who found themselves still out at music venues after the power went out that night, bars were lit with candles and bands went unplugged. The rain soaked the ground and messed up food booth and stage equipment so the day started around noon. The rain also scared off a lot of people who drive in from Baton Rouge or Mississippi, etc. so the crowds were much thinner. Despite the day’s wet beginning, it was gloriously beautiful – 70’s and sunny with breezes. And after 2 solid days of festing, we were happy for a shorter more low-key afternoon. Continue reading
Nestled in the valley between the 2 weekends of Jazz Fest, Chaz Fest is a one day concert in the Bywater (a neighborhood near the French Quarter). Eponymous washboard player, “Washboard” Chaz Leary, Chaz is more than just a symbol of the independent free spirit of Chaz Fest, he plays a few songs with every band. The event started 6 years ago when Alex McMurray, guitarist for 007 (a super group with members of G. Love and Special Sauce, the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars and the Iguanas) and the trio, Tin Men, decided to take matters into his own hands after being rejected by Jazz Fest. Continue reading