French Quarter Fest Focus: Colin Lake

Colin Lake. Illustration by Kevin Thayer.

Colin Lake. Illustration by Kevin Thayer.

“I was captivated by the city’s sights and sounds and after the whole experience, I thought, ‘Man, I’d be a fool not to come here,’” says guitarist Colin Lake of his first trip to Jazz Fest. But when he visited New Orleans in 2008, he fell for more than just the music.

Bored awaiting a delayed flight at Louis Armstrong International Airport, Lake pulled out his guitar and delivered an impromptu concert, met with an eruption of applause from the crowd of festival goers waiting to return home, but he impressed one fan in particular, Dawn Marie from Texas, and the two struck up a conversation.

After his experience, Lake decided to move his career from Portland to the Crescent City. He lined up a tour that would take him through Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, and eventually New Orleans. All the while, he stayed in touch with Dawn Marie. The two are now engaged and have become permanent residents of New Orleans. Lake plays concerts throughout the city on a regular basis, including weekly gigs at Margaritaville.

Lake, originally from Seattle, had moved to Portland for college, but not long before he would’ve graduated, he decided to take on music as a full-time career. “Portland has a thriving music scene of its own, but it doesn’t have the fervor of support and love for the music that New Orleans does,” Lake says. “The music here is alive.”

Lake’s most recent album The Ones I Love, released in 2011, chronicles much of the bittersweet experience of leaving home in pursuit of a dream. Of his decision to pursue music in New Orleans, Lake says, “I saw this little essence that was in there that I knew I could flesh out and develop, and every step of the way there have been these small affirmations that I’m moving in the right direction. Thinking back, I didn’t really see a path for myself outside of that.”


Colin Lake plays French Quarter Festival Friday, April 13 at 4:30 p.m. on the Louis, Louis Pavilion Stage.