MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

French Quarter Fest and Music in the Park

Spent a week in the Big Easy... I love New Orleans this time of year.  The weather is perfect.  Not too hot, festivals abound, but not Spring Break yet so you don't have tons of drunk college students stumbling the streets.  This was my first opportunity to visit NOLA for French Quarter Fest.  Locals had told me that it was a "must," some even saying that it was better than Jazzfest.  I found that hard to believe but it did have one leg up on it... "FREE"!!!

Come late spring early summer, Lafayette Park (in the Central Business District) has a free concert series on Wednesdays, Music in the Park.  I was there for week one, and a free show by New Orleans legend Trombone Shorty.  I have seen him a few times and always enjoyed it immensely, but this show was just amazing.  The park was so crowded you couldn't move and everyone was just grooving to the music.   Shorty commanded the audience, playing jazz standards and some new funk...  and on the stage, you could see Kidd Rock and Lenny Kravitz giving the man his due!  At one point, Trombone Shorty played a Louis Armstrong classic and held a note for well over 2 minutes - the crowd went silent and wild.  It was just fantastic.  And like any great Music in  the Park event, there were a few artists showing their wares.  I visited with the glass artists from UP/Unique Products and the unique silver and stone jewelry of Golden Wagon.

I flew my mom out for the weekend to enjoy the festival.  This was her first trip out and I figured the best time to enjoy all that the city has to offer.  The festival takes place in Jackson Square and off St Phillips on the river.  This meant that we could walk around the galleries of Royal and Charters Streets and still take in the party.  The border of Jackson Square was lined with more artists than usual, and the donkey tours were lined up with large cabs for all the tourists.  The area was so crowded that the line for Cafe du Mode was blocks long.

As promised, the Festival was fantastic; definitely like a more compact Jazzfest.  There were many stages, with booths for food and drink.  Many of the amazing restaurants of the city were represented in the booths including Emeril's and the Brennan's city institutions.  Stages highlighted all the great music of the region.  My mom got to see her first zyedco band, and the crowd broke out in the aerobic cajun dance to match - if you have ever seen, you will be impressed.  With the zyedco bands, you get to rock out to the washboard skills displayed... seriously, you may not think spoons and a tin washboard are cool - but they are!

Other stages highlighted classic jazz, brass bands, cover bands, and tribal music.  We got to see the parade prance with parasols.  Even the ferry, the Natchez, got into the spirit, playing americana standards on its pipe steam organ.   On the street, we got her first beads!  (yes, I took her down Bourbon St, just to see it).  We ate good food (fantastic food at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse and the Palace Cafe), heard great music, explored the art scene (and even bought a small piece)!

French Quarter Fest was expanded to 4 days this year... and judging from the fun we had, it was well worth it.  Mom loved the city... the food the art, the music.  What is not to love in festival season.  Glad I finally got to share that with her!

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