The music lineup for the 32nd Annual French Quarter Festival features quite a few debut performances among the familiar faces of returning artists.
“We always try to keep it fresh,” French Quarter Fest executive director Marci Schramm said. “We have a lot of debuts this year. There are lots of really exciting new bands coming up in New Orleans that we will be featuring.”
Many renowned New Orleans and Louisiana musicians will appear for the first time at the festival, like Doug Kershaw playing with Steve Riley, a residency by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and a performance by the “King of Cajun,” four-time Grammy nominee artist Jo-el Sonnier.
Allen Toussaint, who hasn’t appeared at French Quarter Fest in 17 years, will headline the opening day of the festival.
But more than a dozen new acts will also be presented this year, including Travis Black and the Heart Attacks, the Honorable South, Guitar Slim Jr, the Write Brothers, Los Otros, the New Orleans Swamp Donkeys, along with a “watch and learn” dance party to be held on Jackson Square with the Speakeasy Quartet and the NOLA Jitterbugs.
The festival also features an array of young artists eager for the opportunity to be heard by massive French Quarter Festival audiences who follow in the footsteps of festival regulars like Trombone Shorty and Kermit Ruffins.
Neshia Ruffins, Kermit’s daughter, will make her festival debut leading the Young Franchise Band at the U.S. Mint, but she won’t be the only musician carrying on a legacy.
The Doghill Stompers will carry on their grandfather Boozoo Chavis’ Zydeco tradition as they make their debut alongside the New Breed Brass Band, which is led by Jenard Andrews, the son of trumpeter James Andrews and cousin of Trombone Shorty.
Those fresh faces and first-time French Quarter Fest performers will be part of the 1,400 local artists the festival is expected to host, spread across the 23 stages that will be dispersed across the quarter.
“That’s just a sampling of the new talent that we are welcoming as debut artists to the festival this year,” Schramm said.
So keep an eye out for new talent at French Quarter Fest 2015.