After a surprise cancellation at its original Florida venue in 2015, a new version of the Bear Creek music festival comes to New Orleans’ Mardi Gras World Sept. 30 – Oct. 1.
Renamed Bear Creek Bayou for its Crescent City debut, the funk-focused event’s headliners include George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic and the Flaming Lips, plus a mix of funk and jam band festival circuit favorites including the Foundation of Funk, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Soulive, and Dumpstaphunk.
An “artists at large” component of the bill features John Medeski, Pee Wee Ellis, George Porter, Jr., Jennifer Hartswick, Skerik, and Natalie Cressman.
Live music at Bear Creek rolls on three stages from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. on each day alongside a view of the river and the lights of Algiers Point. Single-day tickets are available for $90 each, while two-day general admission passes start at $169 (they go up by $10 bucks the day of the show). Student tickets are also available.
Keep reading for tips on some of the festival’s music highlights, then head over to BearCreekBayou.com for complete schedule info.
Bear Creek Bayou Highlights
Pre-Party: On Thursday, Sept. 29, the Joy Theater hosts a kickoff show featuring a pair of supergroups — Soulive and friends and OG Gat (Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore, Skerik) — plus performances by local funksters Naughty Professor with Chali 2Na and Pirate’s Choice. Tickets start at $40 for general admission; VIP tickets are also available.
Budos Band: Unlike most folks on the Bear Creek lineup, this Brooklyn-based 10-piece seldom performs in New Orleans. (And chances are good fans who saw them at Republic at 2 a.m. during Jazz Fest in 2012 could stand to have the likely hazy memory refreshed…) The group’s latest release, Burnt Offering, riffs on ‘70s metal influences without losing sight of the band’s jazz, funk, and Afrobeat roots. Look for ‘em at Bear Creek Bayou Friday, Sept. 30, at 7:45 p.m.
George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic: Funk icon George Clinton’s still got it, three generations after he started revolutionizing music. He’s also developed a strong and loyal following in New Orleans, where his go-to venue tends to be Tip’s. Here’s a chance to make your funk the P-funk with a cool river breeze lagniappe. The original Dr. Funkenstein hits the Bayou stage on Friday, Sept. 30, at 8:30 p.m.
Nigel Hall: Though he’s also slated to perform with Lettuce, this is the set where Nigel Hall is most likely to stretch out and do his own thing. In recent months, the funk keyboardist announced he’s giving his skills as a producer a spin. He’s also working on an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute with the Mid-Atlantic funk act Butcher Brown, who appeared on Nicholas Payton’s critically praised 2014 album, “NUMBERS.” Hall’s eponymous band plays Bear Creek on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 2:30 p.m.
Bernard Purdie & Friends: The namesake of the funky drum beat the Purdie Shuffle, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie’s resume includes a long tenure with Aretha Franklin, plus stints and sessions with Steely Dan, Isaac Hayes, Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones, and Miles Davis. He’s joined by Ivan Neville, plus bassist Pete Shand (the New Mastersounds) and guitarist Brian J (Pimps of Joytime) for this supergroup debut on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Flaming Lips: If you were lucky enough to have caught the Flaming Lips at House of Blues when they broke the Guinness World Record for most concerts played in a 24-hour period (sorry, Jay Z), then you know what a perfect match Wayne Coyne and his krewe’s psychedelic freak rock can be for a city obsessed with shiny costumes and sparkly madness. The band, which played BUKU Music + Art Project in 2014, returns to Mardi Gras World Saturday, Oct. 1 at 8:30 p.m.