Born out of a local colloquialism and an avid fan base that bleeds black and gold, the “who dat” chant has been a part of New Orleans for a long time, but it wasn’t until 1983, one night following a Saints victory, that Steve Monistere had the idea to convert it into a song. Today, with the Saints fan base continuing to expand, 36 years after recording the “Who Dat” single with the help of drummer Carlo Nuccio, Aaron Neville and a group of Saints players listed as the Singing Saints, Monistere is returning to show the world his Saints superfandom–and helping others do the same–with the Who Dat Nation Rally & Music Festival.
The festival will take place at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center (6400 Airline Dr.) and LaSalle Park (6600 Airline Dr.) in Metairie, from September 6 through September 8, the weekend before the Saints’ first regular season game against the Houston Texans.
To start the weekend, on Sept. 6 at 6 p.m., there will be a standalone concert, aptly titled “A Salute to New Orleans Music Legends,” held to celebrate the lives and careers of Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Dr. John, Art Neville and Allen Toussaint. The lineup for the event includes Irma Thomas, Deacon John, John “Papa” Gros, Renard Poche, Lenny Green and others who had the good fortune to perform with the celebrated legends. Admission to the event is free, but donations to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic are requested.
Monistere has struggled in the past with retaining the rights to the Who Dat label, and he’s gone as far as battling the NFL, the Saints organization and retail outlets all in the name of protecting his brand. Some have argued that his hold on the name Who Dat is tenuous, since the term had been around long before he recorded it in 1983, but Monistere is proud of what he’s built. “There’s no argument that the words have been around forever,” Monistere said of “Who Dat.” “But there’s no doubt that what we did with that recording started the craze.” As an added bonus for festival goers, Monistere will be selling copies of the original vinyl 45 rpm “Who Dat” single.
Monistere’s company, Who Dat? Inc., settled in 2012 for recognition of the federal trademark; the settlement also allowed the NFL and the Saints to use the term. While most might grow tired after years spent fighting to retain branding rights, Monistere is an exception; his will is black and gold clad, and the Who Dat Nation Rally & Music Festival is his testament.
Information about the lineup on Saturday, Sept. 7 and Sunday, Sept. 8 is listed in a previous article, here. VIP tickets grant admission to performances inside the Jefferson Performing Arts Center, including The Guess Who on Sept. 7 and Blood, Sweat & Tears on Sept. 8. VIP tickets start at $65 on Ticketmaster, and with each VIP ticket purchased, a free two-day pass to the rest of the festival is included. For more information regarding the festival, the schedule or ticket prices, visit the Who Dat Nation Festival website, here.