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
It was warm but breezy for the 32nd annual Creole Tomato Fest, Naked Bike Ride and the Gay Pride Parade (my next 2 posts). The Fest featured cocktails, food demos and kid play areas but we focused on the food booths and music. Little Freddie King and his band commanded the stage with blues. A beloved local musician, King kept the crowd dancing with his guitar riffs and gravelly, soulful voice.
We headed to George’s Produce Co. for my favorite dish every year, The Pontchartrain – sliced Creole tomatoes with lump crab meat dressed in remoulade ($8). 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
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
It’s such a joy to head to the Superdome to watch a Saints game. The city is cloaked in black and gold optimism. All the other teams that had to lose Sunday to keep our playoff hopes alive lost. All we had to do was beat the 49’ers and things were looking pretty darn good. Alas, it was not meant to be. Warren Easton‘s marching band opened the game and got me in the mood for Mardi Gras as they are always one of the favorite parade bands. Favorite person of the game this time was definitely our usher who didn’t even try to hide her enthusiasm for our team. Continue reading
It’s been too long since I last blogged, long enough to have missed posting on the Saints’ first win this season and the records broken by Brees and Colston. It’s also been long enough to have watched 2 more episodes of HBO’s multi-award winning Treme. The more I get to know this city, the more familiar the musicians, locations and traditions are for me this season. At some point in the season’s second episode, I heard the familiar refrain of Mr. Okra rolling through the neighborhood in his colorful truck chanting, “I have eggplant. I have collard greens. I have oranges.” In L.A., you never knew who or what you might see. I remember seeing a car that was a chicken, a 3 story-tall Oscar on a flatbed truck and a gladiator walking through a neighborhood. In New Orleans, you also never know who or what you might see, but it’s not because someone is trying to make movie magic, it’s because life here can be truly magical. Continue reading
Though we spent most of the weekend in shorts backstage at concerts sponsored by the NCAA’s Final 4, we did manage to squeeze in some dress-up events too. The first was the 3rd annual My Darlin’ New Orleans party hosted by HBO’s Treme benefiting Sweet Home New Orleans, the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and my beloved The Roots of Music. Continue reading