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French Quarter Fest Bracket of Champions

The 2011 French Quarter Festival has indeed arrived, and the buzz going through the city right now is explosive. Now in its 28th year, The French Quarter Festival has grown from a very small Sunday afternoon jam session to the largest free festival in the South. What makes this festival continually appeasing to the palette of the larger community is its true local dedication and hometown feel.

While the numbers of attendees have sky rocketed over the years, the true fact is that The French Quarter Festival remains a local event. No Bon Jovi, no Cyndi Lauper, just a true representation of what you’d find on an average weekend of music in New Orleans.

French Quarter Fest (Photo: Paul Broussard)

A Celebration of New Orleans Music

I consider French Quarter Festival to be a celebration of the music that continues to keep New Orleans ticking day in and day out. The musicians you will see perform over the next week make up the true core of our local music community. These guys and girls put in the sweat and long hours performing tirelessly week after week, year after year, in clubs around the city. To me (and it’s just my opinion), but this is their festival…and the recognition it affords them is much deserved!

One of the true distinct pleasures of The French Quarter Festival is the incredible talent that is literally on the street performing for the enjoyment of all. There is really no way for me to “pick” any specific “must see acts” as I believe that the entire experience of French Quarter Festival is what’s important. But, running through the schedule, I’d like to share a few stages you might see me at enjoying the music:

Kim Carson and the Enablers (Friday 11am Woldenburg Park):  Kim is one of the true Country and Western artists who has honestly made New Orleans her home. Her band always mixes the best elements of classic, authentic country music with a personable performance that could even get my grandmother up and doing the two-step. If you haven’t seen Kim Carson before, I strongly suggest taking a long lunch break on Friday and heading to the river.

Walter “Wolfman” Washington (Saturday 6:15 Abita Beer Stage): The Wolfman is back in New Orleans for a romping set inside Woldenburg Park on Saturday. Mr. Washington’s performances are legendary around the world and he continues to be a true ambassador of the blues and New Orleans culture. Get your dose of some of good New Orleans R&B on Saturday evening.

Honey Island Swamp Band (Saturday at 3:45 at Harrah’s Casino): Have you seen this group? Their latest CD is called “Good To You” and it hasn’t left my car’s CD player in the last month. This group is a great combo of roots music and classic Southern rock. Don’t miss their show and GET THEIR CD.  I’m telling you, it’s that good.

Tim Laughlin (Saturday 11 AM at Jackson Square):  What can you say about Tim Laughlin? To say he’s one of the last true pioneers of clarinet-based Dixieland Jazz is an understatement. If you haven’t caught Tim at one of his many club shows around town, get out to Jackson Square and watch his band throw down some REAL classic New Orleans music.

Remember folks, in the days before the New Orleans R&B greats, we had groups like the Dukes Of Dixieland and the Basin Street Six doing their business on Bourbon Street. You will see me dancing all through Jackson Square to Mr. Tim Laughin’s music on Saturday morning!

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters (Sunday 5:15 at The Aquarium Stage):  Rockin’ Dopsie makes New Orleans his business. No matter what day, what time, what location, what condition, he never fails to put on anything but an explosive show.   End your 2011 French Quarter experience with the non-stop party that is Rockin’ Dopsie Jr and The Zydeco Twisters!

Like I said folks, you can’t go wrong with any of the acts performing for this year’s 2011 French Quarter Festival. The entire experience of live music outside in the heart of the New Orleans is something everyone should take part in and celebrate.

Let’s all say a novena that we have some great weather this weekend, and HAPPY FESTIN’ 2011!

Love New Orleans music? Check out this story about Cowboy Mouth, this interview with Brian Stoltz, and this blog on the Treme Brass Band.

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