That’s the successful strategy taken by the French Quarter Fest, the 27th annual edition of which is slated for April 9-11.
The festival again emphasizes a terrific mix of jazz, blues, funk, zydeco, cajun, brass band, gospel and other music, played exclusively by New Orleans artists.
That’s a factor differentiating the fest from the larger, better-known Jazz Fest, which (with some exceptions) features big national acts in the headlining spots while still devoting about 85% of stage time to artists from New Orleans and throughout Louisiana, according to organizers.
While it’s impossible to duplicate the rambunctious, non-stop, feelgood party vibe of Jazz Fest, which returns the last weekend of April and first weekend of May (I’ll be there, for my umpteenth trip), some fans of New Orleans music prefer the lower-key, more intimate setting of French Quarter Fest.
Or, at least, it felt a bit more laidback the last time I visited, about seven years ago.
As mentioned, much of the cream of the NOLA crop is headed to French Quarter Fest, including such personal favorites as Astral Project, Bonerama, Anders Osborne, Kermit Ruffins, Irvin Mayfield and the NOJO, Rebirth Brass Band, John Mooney, the Kora Konnection, Alex McMurray (performing with his Tin Men group), the Radiators, Trombone Shorty, the New Orleans Nightcrawlers, John Boutte and Paul Sanchez, and many more.
In addition to performances by more than 150 acts, French Quarter Fest means great local cuisine, with 105 food booths set up by vendors who are required to be dine-in restaurants from the New Orleans region.
The fest offers several new features for 2010, including a BMI-sponsored songwriter showcase, with a dozen up-and-coming talents, and an iPhone application soon to be available through iTunes. And traditional dances — Charleston, Swing, and Second-line — will be taught at the Traditional Jazz stage, which will feature performances by the Jazz Vipers, James Andrews, and others.
For more details, go to http://www.fqfi.org/news/?cat=9