“It’s better than Christmas,” says Community Records’ co-founder Daniel “D-Ray” Ray of the punk/indie label’s annual Block Party, which is set to take place for the fifth straight year on April 21 outside The Big Top. For the guys at Community Records and admirers of the music, the two-stage, 26-band event represents one day to hang out in New Orleans, listen to your favorite bands, hear new bands, and see people you only get to see once or twice a year.
The Block Party was created to showcase local and touring bands affiliated with Community Records and provide one of the few all-ages punk festivals in New Orleans and the South. According to D-Ray, “It’s getting better every year,” and he attributes its success to “a bunch of young people wanting to do something positive.”
The label was founded in 2008 by Ray and Greg Rodrigue with the simple goal of connecting people and good music. “We’re a community going toward the same thing,” D-Ray says. “We all just want to play music, put out the music, tour, and have people hear it and respect it.”
Much of the music Community Records releases is available for free. According to D-Ray, “People are going to get these CDs somehow, so why not just give it to them? And people that like it are going to want a vinyl, or a T-shirt, or they’ll come to a show. Come support see us live because that’s what we all live for.”
Stemming from this positive mindset, Community Records makes it a priority to give back to the community through Block Party. Partygoers will receive a four-dollar deduction off the price of a ticket by bringing a food or clothing donation for the New Orleans Mission, and 25 cents of every ticket sale will be donated to the Gulf Restoration Network. “We all have infinitely more than a lot of people, so giving to them isn’t going to hurt us. It’s going to make things better for everyone.”
A good portion of the fuel for the Community Records movement is sourced by a younger demographic, which reflects the importance of all-ages shows to Ray and Rodrigue. “If it wasn’t for these types of shows when we were young, we wouldn’t be here,” D-Ray says. “The whole idea is to provide that for years to come.” The line-up for this year’s Block Party includes Community Records comrades and local favorites such as Caddywhompus, the Lollies, A Billion Ernies, Stuck Lucky, Joystick, the Rooks and more. Touring bands Mustard Plug, Blackie, and Left Alone are also on the bill.
Though Block Party will probably never reach the status of a Warped Tour or Voodoo, D-Ray and the crew are okay with that. “It would lose that feeling. All of us know everyone some way, and that’s awesome.”