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Global Sound: Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival

At the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival in New Orleans, expect captivating international music from Pedrito Martinez, OTRA and Red Baraat.

When was the last time you had the chance to hear bhangra funk music, live, with special events mixed in and more culture than you can shake a stick at?  If you’re not sure, it’s high time you get thee to The Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival, happening lo and behold in Armstrong Park on March 23 and 24.  Also, in this city’s own classy fashion – it’s free.

new orleans music festival
Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival: March 23 – 24, 2013

Groups like OTRA, Red Baraat, Pedrito Martinez and many others will be bring the sounds from Cuba, Africa, Brooklyn and elsewhere around the globe for two days of music in the place it all began in America, Congo Square.  The event is being produced and presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.  The reason?  Their goal is to showcase music that was created along the path of New Orleans’ development.  A path that hits close to home for many New Orleanians, which is that of the African Diaspora.  The music featured at the New World Rhythms Festival will originate from Africa, the Caribbean and the Gulf South – geographical areas that have created some of the most impactful music the world has ever heard.

pedrito martinez new orleans
Pedrito Martinez, performing at the festival on Saturday, March 23 at 6:00 p.m.

The festival – in case multi-cultural globally-sourced music wasn’t enough – also operates in conjunction with the Class Got Brass competition.  The Class Got Brass event is a “Battle of the Brass Bands” for local middle and high schools which aims to support music education in schools while keeping the brass band tradition alive and kicking – er, alive and blaring.

Starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and moving right on through to the evening at 7:30 p.m., there’s a constant barrage of phenomenal music that consists of a rare combination of African dance music, Caribbean headliners, and youthful brass bands. If all this aural stimulation is too much goodness to handle and you want to switch up the senses, go a little heavier on the visual side and enjoy a Mardi Gras Indians Battle on Saturday beginning around 3:15 p.m. The Red Hawk Hunters from the Ninth Ward, the Hard Head Hunters from Downtown and the Geronimo Hunters from Uptown will all be there strutting their stuff, flashing their style and touting their feathers.

The Red Hawk Hunters Mardi Gras Indians (Photo from Flickr by Derek Bridges)

Lastly, there will also be a 78th birthday salute to an icon in New Orleans percussion scene – Alfred “Uganda” Roberts.  There will be a celebration for him on Saturday at 1 p.m. which will last an hour consisting of tunes Uganda played with Professor Longhair, Uganda’s own arrangements, and a “Raising the Roof of the Sky” drum summit with a list of tremendous talent joining in.

Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival
Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24
Louis Armstrong Park at 901 N. Rampart Street

Thomas Rush is a writer living in New Orleans.  He also writes for Knife Depot and is the founder of Few and Far Company, an online retailer for adventurous gentlemen.

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