New Orleans- Spring season is upon us. This could mean only one thing in the Crescent City of New Orleans. It’s time for outdoor concert series and the start of festival season.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron. The festival celebrated it’s 35th Anniversary in conjunction with the New Orleans Tricentennial. As an official Tricentennial event, the fest featured the Tricentennial Homecoming Pavilion sponsored by New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and the One Time in New Orleans Story booth where attendees shared their favorite memories about the city.
The French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI) is a non-profit organization. FQFI produced the 35th Annual French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron, April 12-15, 2018.
The French Quarter Festival-one of the largest, free music festivals in the country was made possible-through sponsorships, donations, and the sale of food, beverages and festival merchandise. I was in the numbers as this years festival attracted more than 560,000 festival-goers who enjoyed the world-class music, food and special events.
The French Quarter Festival was started to support neighborhood businesses during the 1984 World’s Fair street construction.
The French Quarter Festival got under way with a 2nd Line Parade through the French Quarter from Bourbon Street, to St. Ann, and finishing up at Jackson Square. The parade was led by the 504 Krewe, Darryl Young, aka, Dancing Man 504, Anita Oubre and John Sanpie.
A massive number of fans were spread out through the French Quarter, Jackson Square, New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Mint and several stages on the Riverfront in Woldenberg Park, with music performed on 23 stages.
There is a wealth of musicians in the region. Attendees were able to witness some great talents showcased throughout the duration of the festival.
The musical treats of the French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron began with an high octane set by the New Breed Brass Band. This is how we do it in New Orleans!
One can’t go to New Orleans without witnessing musical royalty. The Soul Queen of New Orleans, Irma Thomas held court on the Abita Stage. The huuuuuuuge crowd gathered to hear the Queen is a testament to her popularity in the region and throughout the world. Irma Thomas held the crowd in the palm of her hands on this bright, beautiful opening day concert in the Crescent City. Irma Thomas delighted the crowd throughout her set with the following tunes “Take a Look,” followed by the ultimate engagement song “I Want to Love You for the Rest of My Life,” only to be followed by “You Can Have My Husband; Don’t Mess with my Man.” Her set continued with “Hold You to Your Promise,” “Got Over,” and “It’s Raining.” Irma Thomas brought out her good friend Marcia Ball, as they performed several songs together, as an added bonus for the crowd and I.
Day one of the French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron concluded with an energetic set by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on the Abita Stage.
Sing, songwriter, guitarist Mia Borders provided rockin’ good vibes as the opening act on the Abita Stage, Friday morning in front of a large crowd of her adoring fans.
Ellis Marsalis continues to put his stamp on the local (New Orleans) jazz scene as well as the national and Global jazz scene. He took a page out of the playbook of Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver and Herbie Hancock during his brilliant set. His set list featured the tunes “Crespuscule for Nellie,” “Evidence,” “Sister Sadie,” and “Blowing the Blues Away” both by Horace Silver, and “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” by Herbie Hancock.
John Boutte is another popular artist who delighted a huge crowd gathered in Jackson Square, performing on the Hilton Tricentennial Stage. John Boutte thrilled the crowd with the following tunes while showcasing his amazing vocal range and styling. His set featured “One of These Days,” Good Morning America,” “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” ‘Change Gonna Come,” and “Baby Workout.”
Leroy Jones & New Orleans Finest offered up a set of straight ahead/modern jazz on the Hilton Tricentennial Stage. The set consisted of “Fidgety Feet,” “Algiers Strut,” “Corina, Corina,” St. James Infirmary,” “Carnivals in Town,” and “Panama.”
Saturday’s festivities was canceled due to severe weather. This was the first cancellation in the 35 year history of the festival.
The party resumed on Sunday with a stellar performance by Lawrence Cotton Legendary Experience. They opened their set with “Shake and Bake It.” They continued to serve up a crowd pleasing set on the Morris Bart.com Stage in front of an appreciative audience. Their set continued with “Clarinet Marmalade,” Alligator Crawl,” “Down in New Orleans.”
Special guest vocalist Jane Harvey Brown joined the band to perform “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” “Good Man is Hard to Find,” “Dark Town Strutters Ball,” and “When You're Lonesome” to name a few.
My enjoyment of the 35th Annual French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron concluded with an awesome set by Sheila Jordan. Her set featured the tunes “What You Won’t Do for Love,” “People Make the World Go Round,” “Feel Like Making Love to You,” and “Unforgettable.