With a parade, 2 festivals, and fireworks – things felt almost back to normal this Independence Day weekend in New Orleans. Our normal is always a bit festive. The Creole Tomato Fest at the French Market featured (limited) food booths, virtual events, and trails of specialty menu items at participating bars and restaurants throughout the French Quarter. I was able to get my annual favorite – the Pontchartrain from George’s Produce ($10) – sliced tomato topped with lump crabmeat and remoulade sauce.
The first NOLA Zydeco Fest took place next door on the lawn of the U.S. Mint, home to the New Orleans Jazz Museum. 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
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
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
With the weekend in full swing, all of the over-20 stages and dozens more food booths opened throughout the Quarter for day 3 of French Quarter Fest. The first day, we parked ourselves in front of the Abita Stage and watched masters of their craft all day. Friday, we enjoyed all that again as well as watching well over 100 children take the stage throughout the day. Saturday, we hit every corner of the Fest – from the Mint to the Aquarium and from Bourbon Street to the river.
This weekend was the 27th annual Creole Tomato Fest and the 7th Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival. I had been looking forward to the festivals for 2 main reasons – the amazing Heirloom Tomato Salad I get every year from Covey Rise Farms and the Sliced Creole Tomatoes topped w/lump crabmeat and Remoulade Dressing ($7) from George’s Produce. If I had kids, I would love this fest for its many activities for children. The Tomato Fest has miniature golf, circus arts, crafting, storytelling, swing dance lessons, face painting and a “decorate a secondline hanky” booth. Continue reading
Vieux To Do is 3 festivals in one, the Creole Tomato Festival, the Cajun-Zydeco Music Festival and the Louisiana Seafood Festival. The Creole Tomato Festival is an over 20 year tradition showcasing the French Market, our country’s oldest city marketplace (1791). In addition to the super-tasty locally grown tomatoes, there are stages with live music, an air conditioned enclosed tent for cooking demonstrations and a parade I apparently missed. Continue reading
French Quarter Fest day 2 began with the welcome cry of Mr. Okra driving by, “I’ve got fresh plums. I’ve got fresh oranges.” My mother recently told me that her first words were not mama or dada, but “swimp boy.” Growing up with wagon vendors outside her window, everyday she heard the guy roll by yelling, “Shrimp boy” like an ice cream truck’s bells announcing goodies coming your way. Mr. Okra drives a truck donated by locals after Katrina but his call-outs are part of the soul of New Orleans. We bought 7 over-ripe bananas and 4 plums for $2 and headed out. Continue reading