New Orleans celebrates the life, legacy and music of its most famous native son, Louis Armstrong, with Satchmo Summerfest, a free three-day festival August 1-3, 2014 at the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint. Produced by the same folks who put on French Quarter Festival, this annual event is now in its 14th year. The festival usually takes place during the first full weekend in August, commemorating Armstrong’s birthday on August 4th. Read on to get the full scoop on what to expect at this year’s Satchmo Summerfest.
Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans
You’d expect music to take center stage at any event celebrating the life of world famous trumpeter Louis Armstrong, and it certainly does. Satchmo Summerfest features two stages of live music, with a focus on local brass bands, as well as contemporary and traditional jazz performers. You can also join in for free swing dance lessons twice daily at the Cornet Chop Suey Stage, from 11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
On Friday, August 1, be sure to check out PresHall Brass, John Boutte, Charmaine Neville, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and James Andrews. On Saturday, August 2, tune in for Treme Brass Band, Topsy Chapman and Solid Harmony, and choose between Brass-A-Holics or Glen David Andrews to close out the day. On Sunday August 3, you won’t want to miss Jeremy Davenport, Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers, and the all-female Original Pinettes Brass Band.
It’s a New Orleans festival, so you’d better believe there’s bound to be plenty of great food to choose from, and Satchmo Fest is no exception. The event features a ‘Red Bean Alley’ where local restaurants serve up a wide variety of great New Orleans food options, including shrimp rémoulade from Antoine’s Restaurant, crawfish bread from Lakeview Harbor, jambalaya and soft shell crab po-boys from Oceana Grill, Creole hot sausage po-boys from Vaucresson Sausage Co., and fish beignets and crab claws sauteed in garlic butter sauce from Royal House.
Vegetarian choices include a tomato, basil, and mozzarella crêpe from Crêpes à la Cart, a mushroom pie with Creole taters from Lasyone’s Meatpie Restaurant, red beans and rice, with mustard greens from The Praline Connection, and seaweed & cucumber salad from Ninja Restaurant.
During early August in New Orleans, you won’t have to look for an excuse to cool down with a delicious frozen treat. There will be plenty to choose from, including a new ice cream vendor for 2014, Quintin’s Ice Cream, plus frozen pops from Meltdown (choose from salted caramel, watermelon mint, lemon ginger or strawberry lime flavors), fresh squeezed juices, lemonade & limeade from Cool Fruit Sensations, and plenty of classic New Orleans snowballs from Plum Street Snoballs.
Music history buffs and festival attendees looking for an escape from the heat should head to the 3rd floor of the Old U.S. Mint for a series of special events. A new photo exhibit, Keeping Time: Extraordinary Images from Louisiana’s Musical Past, opens there on July 30th, plus you’ll find a free seminar series all weekend long. Topics include the exodus of jazz musicians from the Storyville red light district, Louis Armstrong as a civil rights pioneer, Satchmo’s relationship with Denmark and its people, plus a screening of the ultra-rare Edward R. Murrow documentary, Satchmo the Great.
Satchmo Summerfest offers a little something for everyone, including children. Head to the 2nd floor of the Old U.S. Mint on Saturday and Sunday, August 2-3 for kids activities including collage making, Zulu coconut decorating, and second-line umbrella decoration. The opening day second line parade on Friday morning and the annual Jazz Mass on Sunday are also not to be missed.