It’s hard to believe that French Quarter Fest is once again upon us, and, as usual, the weather appears to be sterling.
Starting today is the 31st annual French Quarter Festival, an event that has created a niche of its own in the crowded springtime New Orleans festival arena.
Twenty or so years ago French Quarter Festival was the “red-headed tephchild” of New Orleans festivals. They seemed to have sort of an inferiority complex about their festival vis a vis the granddaddy of them all, Jazz Fest.
The French Quarter Fest has honed its programming, and finally understood that it wasn’t a festival only about the Quarter, it’s more of a music festival (I am so thrilled that musicians now are being paid by FQF instead of having to find a sponsor to subsidize their performance, as in the early days). Moreover, festival organizers have managed to up their game by acquiring a title sponsor (Chevron) which has put them in a much better financial position than ever before to improve what they offer to festival-goers in terms of music, food and cultural experiences. The most significant thing is that French Quarter Festival is still free to all, which is a blessing, and somewhat of a curse, because the festival has now become so popular that crowds are somewhat overwhelming (and, as I’ve noted in my columns before, they need to widen the footprint of the festival to include Armstrong Park and its now-lovely environment).
The big coup this year for FQF was acquiring Dr. John as the headline performer, thanks to Tropical Isle’s Earl Bernhardt and Pam Fortner, who financed Rebennack’s performance this year. This will be his solor performance during the festival month. It was also was fortunate that Dr. John was in Europe the first weekend of Jazz Fest, and he’s doing his own show at the Saenger—with what we assume would be a much larger payday—the second weekend of Jazz Fest. Whatever. Frnech Quarter Festival scored with this one.
Personally, though, I rarely get the opportunity to go to the big stages, as it’s too crowded for me to get to them. I usually hang at OffBeat’s end of the Quarter on Lower Decatur near the Old Mint, where the magazine will co-sponsor the Brass Band Stage with Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen.
We’ll have the April issue at all the information booths throughout the Festival, available on the shuttle busses, and at our booth on Decatur Street. Please visit us, as we’ll be giving away a lot of good stuff when you stop by and register at the booth.
Please also come by the Louisiana Music Factory when you are looking to complete your music library. They’ve moved (if you weren’t aware) to the first floor of our building at 421 Frenchmen, and the store is better than ever, with the ‘OZ Swamp Shop located within.
Can’t wait for this weekend. See ya out there!