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Monday, May 1, 2017

Curses! I'll have to wait almost a full year for the best music festival in New Orleans

AARON NEVILLE: On April 6, the R&B singer and musician performed for the first time during the French Quarter Festival. Neville was backed by a band on the main stage in Riverfront Park, above.



I'm already planning our next visit to New Orleans to attend the city's best music festival.

No. I'm not referring to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also known as Jazz Fest, which began last Friday and ends on Sunday.

I'm talking about the four-day French Quarter Festival in April -- an annual celebration of Louisiana's rich musical heritage with New Orleans groups performing on up to 22 stages inside and outside the quarter.

All the performances during the French Quarter Festival, including films and interviews, are free. The 2018 dates are April 12-15.

At Jazz Fest, you have to pay $70 to $80 for each day of admission to the racetrack where it is held. 

Attendance is expected to top 100,000, making it difficult to move around and see bands playing on other stages.

And despite the festival's name, jazz groups are greatly outnumbered by other genres.


We had great weather at the French Quarter Festival (April 6-9), but a thunderstorm on Sunday delayed the start of Jazz Fest, and several performances were rained out, including an appearance by a New Orleans soul-and-funk band called Chocolate Milk.

Last year, bad weather cancelled Stevie Wonder's performance.

Did air-traffic controllers party too hard?

JACKSON SQUARE STAGE: At the French Quarter Festival, an Ella and Louis Tribute Band recalled the collaboration between trumpeter Louis Armstrong and jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald.
BOTTOMS UP: During the French Quarter Festival, the most popular stands in Riverfront Park dispense Hurricanes, frozen Daiquiris, beer and other alcoholic beverages. Food stands are operated by New Orleans' best restaurants, offering Cajun, Creole and Caribbean specialties.
STORMY WEATHER: A Hurricane from Pat O'Brien's Bar was $9. Ingredients include vodka, gin, rum, grenadine, amaretto almond liqueur, triple sec and fruit juices. 
SLOW BUT SURE: Taking taxis or Uber to get around is expensive, but the budget option, New Orleans' charming streetcars, are slower. The regular fare is $1.50; seniors pay only 40 cents. Multi-day cards, available in drugstores, are the best buy.
COOL RIDE: Red streetcars are air-conditioned, but the older cars on the St. Charles Streetcar line are not.

HERO OF NEW ORLEANS: In the center of Jackson Square is a statue of Andrew Jackson, who won a decisive victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1812.
OLDEST CATHEDRAL IN U.S.: St. Louis Cathedral, seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, is just outside Jackson Square.
SANTIAGO: Inside the cathedral, a large wooden scallop shell over the pulpit is the symbol of St. James, the patron saint of Spain.
CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS: A gospel choir and band were added during masses at St. Maria Goretti, a Catholic church in New Orleans. The drummer and organist, both parishioners, are members of Chocolate Milk, a funk-and-soul band.
VIETNAMESE PO'BOY: At Dong Phuong Bakery in New Orleans East, Bahn Mi are distinctly different than New Orleans Poor Boy Sandwiches. The smaller and cheaper Bahn Mi are dressed with homemade aioli, pickled carrots and daikons, jalapenos, cilantro and cucumbers. Fish, shrimp and soy fillings are available.
BEAUTIFUL WOODWORK: Homes in the French Quarter, above and below.
GIVING THE ENVIRONMENT A BREAK: At the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, where we stayed, drivers of hybrid and all-electric cars get a $10 discount on overnight parking.
LOFTY WORKOUT: The hotel's gym is on the 32nd floor.
PROPELLED BY AIR? Hotel elevators are virtually silent. The Hyatt is next to the Superdome, below.


We took the Airport Shuttle from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency on Loyola Avenue ($44 a person round trip). 

Website: Airport Shuttle New Orleans

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