The 2016 French Quarter Festival takes over the Vieux Carre April 7-10 with an astounding array of music, dispersed on 23 stages and covering the diverse sounds of Louisiana culture. The best advice we can give is to follow your ears, but we’ve compiled a top 10 just in case.
Top 10 KnowLouisiana.org Staff Picks for 2016 French Quarter Festival
The Dixie Cups
Start the festival off with the Hawkins sisters, known to generations for “Chapel of Love” and other hits including “Iko Iko”, “Little Bell”, and “People Say.” These legendary New Orleans natives are living proof of the city’s indelible influence on American music.
Thursday 2:10P.M. Abita Beer Stage
Marsalis was fourteen when he attended a Dizzy Gillespie concert in New Orleans and immediately became “a confirmed bebopper.” Almost seventy years later, the pianist, educator, and 2008 LEH Humanist of the Year carries the torch of modern jazz through subtly masterful performances. Read more about Mr. Marsalis here.
Thursday 3:15P.M. Smokefree NOLA Jackson Square Stage
LCV music columnist Ben Sandmel on Sweet Crude in this Winter 2015 review: “In its prominent use of tom-toms and bells, classical and Broadway-musical flourishes, lush vocal harmonies and expressive lead singing, the group’s big, resonant sound recalls the work of such well-known bands as the Electric Light Orchestra, Talking Heads, and Tears For Fears.” We like the sound of that.
Friday 12:35 P.M. Abita Beer Stage
David Torkanowsky tribute to Allen Toussaint
The entire festival is dedicated to the memory of Allen Toussaint, but if we had to bet on a set that will combine both reverence and reinvention of AT’s catalog, it would be fellow piano professor/producer “Tork” in this intimate setting. Read all our stories on Allen Toussaint here.
Friday 2:30 P.M. Jazz Playouse at the Royal Sonesta
Lost Bayou Ramblers
It takes a lot of care, practice, and courage to light a tradition on fire and make its burning feel both faithful and absolutely new. This is the sound of Louisiana today. Listen to Eve Abrams’ story on LBR, produced for WWNO 89.9FM in partnership with Louisiana Cultural Vistas.
Friday 3:45 P.M. Chevron Cajun/Zydeco Showcase
Hot 8 Brass Band
Born from the Alcee Fortier Marching Band, the Hot 8 travel the globe as messengers of New Orleans culture—both the glories of our traditions and the conflicts of our present. In this oral history we recorded back in 2009, band member Terrell “Burger” Batiste talks about the first second line after Katrina; Raymond Williams recalls meeting Ellis Marsalis; and band leader Bennie Pete discusses his influences, including Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen, who Bennie first met in the waiting room of Charity Hospital.
Friday 5:45 P.M. Popeyes Barracks St. Brass Band Jam
Let Them Talk Symposium
This year’s schedule of live interviews is packed with potential for anyone interested in the history of New Orleans music. Interviewees include Irma Thomas, Sarah Quintana, Ellis Marsalis, Roland Gerin, and Scott Billington, and participating scholars include Fred Kasten, Matt Sakakeeny, and Ben Sandmel. Make sure you pick up the symposium program, produced by FQF and Louisiana Cultural Vistas.
Saturday and Sunday at the Old U.S. Mint
Tank and the Bangas
In search of an answer to that eternal question, “what’s the next big thing out of New Orleans?” Here’s one option. Emerging from the city’s thriving spoken word scene, Tank is the voice of right now. Oh, yeah—be ready to dance.
Saturday 5:30 P.M. WWL’s Esplanade in the Shade Stage
Partners N Crime and the Big Easy Band featuring DJ Jubilee
Recognized as giants—by other rappers as well as scholars–in the history of New Orleans hip hop, PNC incorporates a live band and the incomparable DJ Jubliee, himself a contender for the Mount Rushmore of Crescent City musical pioneers. Read more about the history of New Orleans hip hop here.
Saturday 7:20 P.M. Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stand
Johnette is a gifted songwriter, children’s book author, and longtime supporter of our PRIME TIME early childhood literacy program. We’ll see you there for a special Sunday morning performance that’s sure to include dancing kids, clever turns of phrase, and a great New Orleans musician.
Sunday 11:00 P. M. New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park Centennial Stage for Kids