After a year hiatus, there will be a Chaz Fest in 2015.
The Ninth Ward local music festival, named after the irrepressible washboard virtuoso “Washboard” Chaz Leary, will be held on Wednesday, April 29, right in between the two weekends of Jazz Fest.
He went on to say, “We always joke around when we’re trying to ‘beg for tips’ at our shows, and we say things like, ‘win a dream date with Chaz,’ and one of the jokes we say is ‘Chaz Fest’ because, you know, it rhymes with Jazz Fest.”
McMurray explained that the year after Hurricane Katrina, the number of slots and days at Jazz Fest was significantly reduced. As a result, a lot of people—mainly the locals—were not getting gigs the way that they used to before the storm. A few musicians took note of this change and decided to start an alternative neighborhood festival in 2006 to honor the great local talent here. Chaz Fest has been held every year since, with the exception of last year.
Named “Best Neighborhood Festival” in OffBeat’s Best of the Beat Awards, McMurray explained what makes it stand out from the rest amidst what is fittingly called “festival season.”
“Chaz Fest is held on private property, and it’s a funky spot,” he said. “The property is four houses that share a large lot in the middle of the city. Four houses, and if you go through the alley, it opens up into this huge, open space.”
McMurray shared that the property used to be home to horses and fruit trees, as well as a cigar factory, back in the day.
“There’s some shade and sheds. It’s a cool looking spot,” he said. “The vibe is different from your normal fest with the typical food booths. It’s kind of funky and weird.”
When it comes to the eclectic festival’s offered eats, The Joint is a BBQ place that has been with Chaz Fest since the beginning.
As for the best memory of the festival thus far, McMurray shared that two years ago New Orleans was experiencing a period of very intense rain the week before and even on the day of Chaz Fest.
“Only one spot in the entire city didn’t get any rain that day, and it was us,” he said. “There are weather maps to prove it.”
Chaz Fest tickets are available for $30 at chazfestival.com, and they can also be bought at the event, which will be held at The Truck Farm at 3020 St. Claude Avenue, for $35.
“Just show up at The Truck Farm for the best Wednesday in New Orleans you ever had.”
The lineup for the two-stage event is as follows:
Hard Liqueur Main Stage
Meschiya Lake & the Little Big Horns, 12p
Hot 8 Brass Band, 2:45p
Matt Perrine & Sunflower City, 5:45p
Brian Coogan Band, 7:30p
Happy Talk Band, 9p
Bywater Juke Joint Side Stage
The Tom Paines, 12:45p
Helen Gillet & Other Instruments, 2p
My Graveyard Jaw, 3:45p
The Geraniums, 5:05p
Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, 6:35p
Ratty Scurvics, 8:30p