French Quarter Fest: a free blast of New Orleans music

French Quarter Fest: a free blast of New Orleans music
March 28, 2013
Edna Gundersen

The 2013 French Quarter Festival, taking place April 11-14 in New Orleans, has for years been the appetizer for the mammoth New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

These days the four-day blowout brings so much to the table — 275 hours of entertainment featuring 150 musical performances across 21 stages — that it bears little resemblance to its origins as a neighborhood block party.

The FQF, celebrating its 30th anniversary, has grown into one of the nation's biggest festivals. The 2012 event drew more than 574,000 locals and out-of-towners and had an economic impact of $260 million. Organizers expect similar success this year with an agenda that includes the launch of the Chevron Evening Concert Series, with headliners Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet and Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience.

Over four days, festival organizers will roll out regional cuisine and a diverse roster of the area's leading acts as well as a few choice international guests (the Funky Butt Jazz Band from Norway, for instance).

The chief enticement? Admission is free.

Among the performers: Irma Thomas, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Soul Rebels, Dr. Michael White, Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, Amanda Shaw, Irvin Mayfield, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, Little Freddie King, Davell Crawford, Bonerama, Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, the Dixie Cups, Rockin' Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters and Glen David Andrews. Expect Mardi Grad Indians and a rash of brass bands from Hot 8 to Red Hot.

Among the 60 food vendors are restaurants that have participated in the festival since its start in 1984: Court of Two Sisters, Pat O'Brien's, Ristorante Carmelo, Trey Yuen, Tujague's, Vaucresson Sausage, Desire Oyster Bar and The Gumbo Shop.
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