French Quarter Fest is easily my favorite festival of the year, which is saying something since we have hundreds of them. With over 20 stages playing indigenous music and 60 local food booths, the festival employs over 1,700 local musicians playing genres from funk, R&B and jazz to rock, gospel and Zydeco. The over 1,500 volunteers and various local companies handling sanitation, security, stages, sound, etc. and more insure that all of the money spent producing the festival remains within the local economy.
I was working on a TV show Thursday so I missed the first day of festivities – which really hurt when I saw the tailor-made-for-me music line up. We started Friday with the Soul Rebels. The fun and funky brass band Continue reading
Super Sunday is easily one of my favorite days of the year as many of the Mardi Gras Indian tribes step out to show off their stunning suits of beads and feathers. I’m always humbled by the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into the staggeringly beautiful suits our neighbors spend the year carefully designing and crafting with elaborately beaded panels often portraying tales of battle and loss. Weighing up to 150 pounds and costing $3000 or more, the suits portray wildlife or a 3-D version of the Taj Mahal or even a tribute to things that “Ain’t dere no more” like the Jax brewery and the Saints “Dome patrol.”
The big surprise this year was the women. Queen Tahj of the Golden Eagles tribe created a gown rather than a suit. She worked her grandmothers earrings and brooches into her sequin top and her long skirt was beaded with the figures of women and children encircling her to represent her community Continue reading
It was bound to happen some time. After nearly a decade of blogging, a post I’d spent over 4 hours writing and preparing just disappeared into the ether. Here are the photos and I’m truly, truly sorry there’s no blog full of context, history and details. Enjoy the many photos! Continue reading
Day 2 of French Quarter Fest brought more nice weather, though things got dreary toward the end of the day foreshadowing the oncoming storm. And the latest oil spill in the river gunked up the banks and halted riverboat cruises and ferries. But, the day was terrific – starting with Cha Wa, a Mardi Gras Indian band. Lead singer J’Wan Boudreaux is the grandson of Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and is one of our city’s many reassurances that our music and culture are being passed down to a worthy generation. Continue reading
After postponing a week for weather, it was 80 and sunny for Super Sunday, one of my favorite days of the years. Staggeringly beautiful and steeped in culture and history, the Mardi Gras Indians fill the streets on Super Sunday wearing plumed and beaded suits they spent the year carefully designing and crafting, bead by bead. We wandered past Baby Dolls dancing and families helping their Indians dress before selecting a burger and sausage combo and following the proprietor to a nearby truck making giant adult sno-balls. Continue reading
Because people have jobs, Thursday can be the least crowded day of the entire Jazz Fest schedule. Add a cold rain until after lunchtime and things got off to a very slow start. I volunteered to work in the Kiwanis beer booth to raise money for local children’s activities and got to spend the day remembering everything I love about Jazz Fest. The “shoe forecast” called for boots owing to the rains the night before – todays showers weren’t predicted. But I loved seeing all the fashion fun “boot weather” brings out (favorite pictured below). My friend, Wendy, and I ended up wearing the exact same pair – extra funny since we met when she dressed my character in The Loft years ago.
We set up the booth, got a requisite Crawfish Monica, then wandered to the nearby Acura Stage to watch Cha Wa. Continue reading
French Quarter Fest ended with a slightly warmer version of the same glorious weather we’d had all weekend. The Friendly Travelers started our day with standards like Down By The Riverside, then took the crowd to church with praise music. The lead singer came out to the crowd and got people on their feet and holding hands. Toward the end of the set, the band played an original from their upcoming album. It was gorgeous and moving and the crowd did something I hadn’t seen before at any fest – they gave a standing ovation in the middle of a set for a song no one knew. Continue reading
Another beautiful day for French Quarter Fest, low 70’s and sunny. The music started at the U.S. Mint stages with The Nayo Jones Experience. We’d seen Nayo Jones featured by Kermit Ruffins in 2 previous French Quarter Fests so it was a delight to see her command her own stage. The crowd loved her rendition of House of the Rising Sun and she sold out of CD’s early in the show. Continue reading