Satchmo Summerfest celebrates New Orleans native, Louis Armstrong’s birthday with 3 days of music on multiple stages and food booths from local vendors. Always marked by summer heat, the festivals provides shady tents and symposiums on Armstrong and related topics in the air conditioned Old U.S. Mint, home of the New Orleans Jazz Museum where you can find Armstrong’s first coronet.
The Roots of Music kicked things off Continue reading
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
Day 2 of Satchmo Fest started with a dowsing of rain that cleared up and left the day relatively cool. The festival celebrates the birthday of Louis Armstrong. Saturday’s lineup illustrated the reach and evolution of Armstrong’s influence on musicians and music lovers. One of the interesting things about our local musicians is that they often play in multiple bands either as members, sitting in, or as featured guests. Its not uncommon to spot players like the drummer who played with Bonerama Friday and with Corey Henry & the Treme Funktet Saturday. But the player I’ve seen the most this year is a young trombonist who so far has played with (that I know of) Soul Rebels on Friday and the Original Pinettes and TBC Brass Bands on Saturday. With that kind of bravery, discipline and endurance, I’m excited to see who he becomes. And it brings me joy to know that, like so many others, he can trace his beginnings to Louis Armstrong. Continue reading
The 35th annual French Quarter Fest was rained out Saturday, which is a crying shame. Many of the biggest acts were set for that day including Grammy-winners, Rebirth Brass Band. It was supposed to be a day of having to make hard choices about what to miss, but a massive storm wiped the day away.
Sunday was sunny, windy and super-chilly (50’s). Sarah Quintana’s teeth were chattering and her trumpet player was trying to keep at least one hand warm enough to play. But Sarah Quintana (with her nightingale’s voice) and the Miss River Band managed to put on a beautiful show. Bruce Sunpie Barnes joined Continue reading
I arrived early for my Jazz Fest book signing and started the day with Glen David Andrews in the Blues Tent. The tents are known for crowds who enjoy sitting in the shade and resting but Andrews got everyone on their feet, hands in the air. His soulful rendition of When Doves Cry turned out to be the best musical performance of the entire day.
The Soul Rebels had everyone dancing at the Congo Square stage. We all put our hands up as numbers for 504, a song celebrating our beloved area code. Continue reading
French Quarter Fest enjoyed it’s third straight day of perfect weather. Naydja CoJoe started us off with fun covers of Glamorous Life and Prince’s Baby I’m a Star. We brunched on fest newcomers Bratz Y’all and Jerk Chicken with Rice, Peas, Cabbage and Plantain from 14 Parishes Jamaican Restaurant then hit Treme Brass Band for some traditional standards. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
We did a lot of roaming our second day of the 32nd annual French Quarter Fest starting at The Mint with a bowl of Pulled Pork over Roasted Corn & Cheese Grits ($7) from Squeal. We got a hug from Winks’ Dwight Henry, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild and 12 Years a Slave before making our way to the French Market where we watched a few minutes of a dance class. Then we walked along the river to Jackson Square for Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake ($5) from GW Fins. Continue reading
The Saints lost today – bad. All the more reason to sit back and watch HBO’s Treme and remember all the ways this city overcomes. This week’s episode covered the week following Christmas 2008 into New Year’s 2009. I happened to be in Louisiana that week in real life. I was visiting family for the holidays when I had an epiphany. I’d always meant to retire here, but I remember walking toward my cousins at their docked boat as the sun set over the Tchefuncte River and thinking, “What am I waiting for?” By December 2009, I was here. Continue reading