Undeterred by suffocating morning heat and a couple afternoon power-washings, crowds continued to enjoy the best of this weekend’s Creole Tomato Festival, held in the French Quarter along the French Market.
At the Old US Mint Stage, Flow Tribe jolted Day Two to a start properly, with jubilant, high-voltage funk-rock. The 6-piece band is known for spicing up their New Orleans sound with world rhythms and eclectic instrumentation, and this set was no different, showcasing the washboard (which, as Tribe-member John-Michael Early noted in a recent interview, fit in remarkably well) and a Latin sound in several numbers.
Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen took the stage next, with the contagious energy, sultry grooves, and rich, full percussive backdrop that make them one of the most lauded funk acts in the city. Keyboard King Cleary wowed the crowd with rapid-fire finger work, and the other Gentlemen were likewise absolutely bewildering in their ability to make impeccable musicianship look like something you do in your sleep.
There was no shortage of good music the whole day through. Stephanie Jordan followed Cleary, and Johnny Sansone closed the Mint stage out. Kelcy Mae, Smoking Time Jazz Club, Washboard Chaz, and Gina Brown performed on the second stage at the Dutch Alley’s Performance Pavilion.
Throngs of shoppers crushed their way up and down the French Market, browsing the wares, and kids enjoyed a full day of performances and activities at a special children’s stage.
In addition to enjoying the various cooking demos, foodies were able to start the second fest day off right by sampling the “best ofs” in festival food, announced yesterday. Winners in four categories displayed placards on their booths.
The Creole tomato, mozzarella, basil and bacon crepe (Crepes a la Carte) took the prize for this year’s “Tastiest Food.” The shrimp and Creole tomato ceviche (Superior Seafood) was voted the “Healthiest Dish,” the fried green tomatoes with a trio of sauces (Chartres House) was the “Most Traditional Dish,” and the crawfish beignet with roasted corn and Creole tomato sauce (J’s Seafood Dock) was 2015’s “Most Creative Dish.”
Of course, though, the unofficial winner was the plain old Creole tomato, and plenty of attendees could be seen chomping on them like apples throughout the day.