French Quarter Fest is my favorite festival of the year. The 4-day free festival features local food booths and music on 23 stages throughout the Quarter. The weather was glorious, 77 and sunny with a breeze coming off the river. If the Thursday crowd was any indication of attendance, this year will be a record breaker. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit missing the days when many of the attendees were as local as the festival itself. Seems the secret is out. I was no help – live Tweeting all day to share my wonderful time with the world. Continue reading
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Sunday, the closing day of French Quarter Fest, was a drizzly one so we started at one of the many indoor activities – the “Let Them Talk…” interview series at the Mint. Author John Broven led legends Allen Toussaint and Deacon John in a discussion of Cosimo Matassa, founder of both J&M Recording Studio and Cosimo Recording Studio. The event started and ended with Toussiant on the piano and Deacon John singing for us. Matassa was a local legend who is credited with helping to develop the rock and R&B sounds of the 50’s and 60’s. Fats Domino, Little Richard. Ray Charles, Dr. John, Ernie K-Doe, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, Aaron Neville and the legends on the stage in front of us were just a few of the artists Matassa worked with as both studio owner and engineer. Continue reading
Saturday was the third wonderful day of the 32nd annual French Quarter Fest. Crowds were lighter for rumors of rain but the day started beautifully with the talented and highly disciplined kids of The Roots of Music. Founded by Derrick Tabb, the snare drummer for the Grammy Award winning Rebirth Brass Band, the Roots program provides at-risk youths 9 to 14 year olds with instruction in music history, music theory and an instrument as well as ensemble performance preparation. Additionally, they provide academic tutoring, homework assistance, mentoring, round-trip transportation and a hot meal 5 days a week, 12 months a year. Plus, they’re AWESOME! In a city where we could have had our pick of oodles of ridiculously talented bands, we hired a baker’s dozen of the Roots of Music kids to play our wedding second line. Continue reading
The 45th New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival started last weekend treating hundreds of thousands of guests to artisan booths and demonstrations, fest food and cooking demonstrations, pop-up book and CD stores, interviews with musicians and, of course, over a dozen stages playing up to 8 shows each a day. I think that comes out to somewhere around 400 different concerts over the course of 2 weekends all on the Fair Grounds Race Course. But what if you couldn’t get here? Or what if you’re one of the locals fed up with yet another price hike? (It’s up to $65/day at the door now). You may not be able to eat the food or watch the Mardi Gras Indians parading past, but you can still hear Jazz Fest in a number of ways.
I have seen the future of New Orleans music and it is good. For me, the first day of French Quarter Fest was a relaxing journey through established local bands – people with Grammy nominations and wins and stacks of CD releases. Day 2 had all that with Dr. John, Kermit Ruffins and Rebirth Brass Band, but the day really belonged to the kids. The weather was insanely beautiful as we started our morning in Jackson Square for a tasty Duck Po-Boy ($8) from Jaques-Imo’s Cafe. Continue reading