Aaron Neville Makes His French Quarter Festival Debut, Kicks Off 4-Day, $190M Festival

Leslie T. Snadowsky
Aaron Neville performs at French Quarter Fest for the first time, Thursday, April 6, on the Abita Beer Stage

NEW ORLEANS – The 34th Annual French Quarter Festival (FQF) presented by Chevron kicked off yesterday, Locals’ Lagniappe Day, April 6, with Aaron Neville who made his FQF debut in front of a huge crowd along the Mississippi River riverfront on the Abita Beer Stage. The performance was presented by musician sponsor AOS Interior Environments.

         Neville is synonymous with New Orleans, celebrated throughout the world as part of the legendary Neville Brothers and as a Grammy-winning solo artist, French Quarter Festivals, Inc. (FQFI) reps said.

         FQF, a free festival that takes place at multiple locations throughout the French Quarter, runs through Sunday, April 9.

         Attendees will experience music from more than 1,700 world-class, local musicians; food from the city's favorite restaurants at the 'The World's Largest Jazz Brunch'; and four days of fascinating special events like Let Them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music, Whitney Bank Film Fest at French Quarter Fest with Cinema on the Bayou, Pirates Alley Juried Art Show, Free Dance Lessons, Opera at Dusk, and the Chevron Children's Headquarters and STEAM Zone.

         What started as a small neighborhood event has grown into the largest showcase of Louisiana music in the world, FQFI reps said. FQF is one of the biggest events in the state and generates an average economic impact of nearly $190 million. In 2017, it was voted "Best Local Festival" by New Orleans Magazine readers and has also been listed as the "one thing to do in Louisiana" by the Huffington Post.


Live, Local Music on 23 Stages

         The 2017 FQF presented by Chevron brings nearly four-dozen new acts.

         Funk artist Papa Mali, best known as front man for 7 Walkers (a band that includes Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann and The Meters' founding bassist, George Porter Jr.) will also make his FQF debut on the Abita Beer Stage.

         Other new artists include: 504Ever All Stars, Airpark, Ashlin Parker Quartet, Big Frank & Lil Frank and the Dirty Old Men, Boyanna Trayanova and Divak, Cary Hudson & Piney Woods Players, Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole, Cedryl Ballou & the Zydeco Trendsetters, Cole Williams Band, Crescent City Hot Six Jazz band, Dick Deluxe, Eric "Benny" Bloom, Fortifiers, Fred LeBlanc, G and The Swinging Three, Gregory Agid Quartet, Jake Landry and the Right Lane Bandits, Jonathan 'Boogie' Long (Trio), Jumbo Shrimp Jazz Band, Kenneth Terry Jazz Band, KIPP Central City Academy Band, KIPP McDonogh 15 Middle School Band, Louisiana LeRoux, Love Evolution, Luxley, Messy Cookers Jazz Band, Mo'Fess, Mollie Pate and the LPO Horn Sound, Perdido Jazz Band, Remedy, Roland Guerin, Soul Brass Band, T'Monde, Ted Hefko and The Thousandaires, The Mid-City Aces, The Nayo Jones Experience, The Pentones, The Porter Trio, The Versipel Collective, Tonya Boyd-Cannon, Valerie Sassyfrass, Washboard Rodeo, Water Seed Music, and Wayne and Same Ol' 2-Step.

         FQF consistently remains popular with locals while attracting a tremendous out-of-town audience, FQFI reps said. A huge part of the appeal is that attendees get a true, authentic New Orleans experience – a broad range of Louisiana artists and a diverse variety of musical styles and genres. Since 1984, FQF has been committed to featuring New Orleans' finest artists on stages all over the French Quarter. The tradition continues in 2017 with the expansion of the Jack Daniel's Stage, which moves from Bourbon Street to JAX Brewery. The stage will have entertainment all four days of festival. Artists include: Corey Henry's Treme Funktet, Ingrid Lucia, King James & The Special Men, Lynn Drury Band, Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns, Otra, Panorama Jazz Band, Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs, and The Soul Rebels.

         FQF 2017 will also bring a stage to KIPP McDonogh 15 School for the Creative Arts located at 721 St Philip St. Artists on the Schoolhouse Stage include Paulin Brothers Jazz Band, Carl LeBlanc, Rhodes Spedale & Live Jazz Group, and more.

         The complete music schedule of more than 200 scheduled acts can be viewed here.


The World's Largest Jazz Brunch

More than 60 of New Orleans' favorite restaurants

         New Orleans is the culinary capital of the country, FQFI reps said. FQF celebrates this distinction, giving attendees a wealth of delicious choices at 'The World's Largest Jazz Brunch.' More than 60 vendors will feature classic New Orleans dishes as well as cuisine from the finest chefs in the region. In 2017, FQF welcomes three new vendors, 14 Parishes Jamaican Restaurant, Bratz Y'all Bistro & Biergarten and Gattuso's Neighborhood Bar & Restaurant with menu items that range from European specialties, such as the "Nuernberger" pork bratwurst, to Jamaican fare like jerk chicken with plantains. The diverse new vendors will all be located at the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint. In order to maintain the authenticity and quality of the cuisine, the Jazz Brunch Committee evaluated each vendor to ensure specific criteria for participating were met.

         Festival favorites returning for 2017 include Galatoire's, Muriel's, Praline Connection, Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, Restaurant R'evolution, Broussard's, Love at First Bite, Royal House, GW Fins, House of Blues, Jacques-Imo's, K-Paul's, Lasyone's Meat Pies, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Three Muses, and more. Fans can look forward to many new menu items, including: Kingfish Kitchen & Cocktails' Cochon Sliders, Restaurant R'evolution's Sugarcane Glazed Pork Belly Po-Boy, Mrs. Wheat's Broccoli & Cheese Pie, Haydel's Bakery Strawberry Gourmet Hand Pie, Koz's Vegan Smoked Eggplant and Okra Gumbo, Quintin's Ice Cream's Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwiches, Café Reconcile's Vegetarian Collard Greens, Andrea's Restaurant's Eggplant Parmigiana, and Westin Canal Place's Cajun Cuban Sandwich. FQFI also announced the return of Tujague's brisket of beef with horseradish sauce.

         The official festival app, developed by GE Digital, is integrated with Google maps, allowing attendees to easily pinpoint vendor locations and travel times. The app, which will be released late March, includes functionality to search for favorite foods by name in addition to name and location. The menus are available to view here.


Cinema on the Bayou curates Whitney Bank Film Fest at FQF

         FQFI and Whitney Bank continue their partnership and welcome new partner, Cinema on the Bayou, to offer Whitney Bank Film Festival at FQF. Cinema on the Bayou Film Society was founded by filmmaker Pat Mire, a prize-winning filmmaker based in Lafayette, LA. Mire's cultural documentaries have been aired nationally on PBS, Discovery Channel, and other networks and have won awards in national and international competitions. Cinema on the Bayou presents acclaimed documentary and narrative fiction films and filmmakers and produces one of Louisiana's oldest film festivals.

         Whitney Bank Film Fest at FQF takes place at Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré- one of the oldest community theatres in the country. Lineup includes: Dew Drop; I am the Blues; Coals to Newcastle: The New Mastersounds from Leed to New Orleans; Brother David; The River of Babylon: An Elegy for South Louisiana; Sushi and Sauce Piquante: The Life and Music of Gerry McGee; The Abita Mystery House; Songs of Souls; and By and By: New Orleans Gospel at the Crossroads.

         View a full schedule here


Let Them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music

Lecture series features Andre and Louis Michot, Dr. Michael White, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Pete Fountain Tribute, Irma Thomas and more

         Let Them Talk, the annual lecture series curated by Fred Kasten and Dr. Connie Atkinson featuring Louisiana musicians, will return to the Louisiana State Museum's Old U.S. Mint for the 2017 FQF. The series provides a rare chance to hear artists speak about their life in music, such as the Saturday, April 8 session, The Continuing Reign of the Soul Queen of New Orleans: A Conversation with Irma Thomas. This year's schedule also includes: The Latin Soul and Crescent Funk of Los Po-Boy-Citos, Aloha Golden Meadow: Andre and Louis Michot on Their Musical Roots, There Is A Doctor In The House: The Life And Music Of Dr. Michael White; On The Howl With Walter "Wolfman" Washington; and A Tribute To Pete Fountain.  Let Them Talk is free and open to the public. Partners include the UNO Midlo Center and the Louisiana State Museum, as well as the generous sponsorship of Friend of Fest.

         View the complete Let Them Talk schedule here


Family Fun at FQF 2017

Chevron Children's Headquarters at the Natchez Wharf and Hermann-Grima House add new partners

         FQFI announced the return of two children's areas to the 2017 FQF presented by Chevron. Both areas have expanded to feature new partners and activities. The Chevron Children's Headquarters, featuring the Chevron STEAM Zone, will return to the Natchez Wharf at the foot of Toulouse Street and the Hermann-Grima House will host two full days of family-fun on Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9. “Chevron values education and collaboration,” said Chevron Gulf of Mexico Public Affairs Manager Leah Brown. “At French Quarter Festival we're working with our community partners to teach children about science, technology, engineering, art and math. The Chevron STEAM Zone has fun, interactive learning stations that show kids how these subjects play a vital role in their future success. We're proud to once again bring The Chevron STEAM Zone to French Quarter Festival 2017.”

         Chevron supports many organizations in the community, and at FQF they collaborate with several of them to create educational STEAM Zone experiences, FQFI reps said. Community partners include: The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, The Nature Conservancy, Project Lead the Way, Audubon Nature Institute, Chevron, Fab Lab NOLA, New Orleans Pelicans, Notes for Notes, and the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park. Visitors will take part in hermit crab racing, test robots, build a motorized boat and many more interactive, educational experiences. The children's area will also feature performances for kids and families on the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park Stage. A special appearance by child life advocate Jarrius "Little JJ" Robertson is scheduled for Saturday, April 8.

         A second children's area at the Hermann-Grima House will feature archaeology, crafts, giveaways and educational projects. Community partners include Young Audiences of Louisiana, The Green Project, New Orleans Public Library, New Orleans Museum of Arts, Italian Cultural Arts Center, The Louisiana Children's Museum, and the Girl Scouts Louisiana East. The beautiful courtyard gardens of the Hermann-Grima House are located at 820 St. Louis St.


Opening Night Gala returned to Antoine's

         Yesterday, the FQF Opening Night Gala at Antoine's Restaurant benefitted the Roots of Music and The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Mint. Honorary Co-Chairs included: Governor John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, and Chevron Gulf of Mexico Vice President Mark Hatfield.

         Established in 1840, Antoine's, the country's oldest family-run restaurant, celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2015. During the Gala, guests enjoyed the original Main Dining Room, the Mardi Gras-themed Rex, Proteus, and 12th Night Revelers rooms, the Mystery Room, 1840 Room, the Last Room (or Tabasco Room) and the Wine Cellar, which holds approximately 25,000 bottles when fully stocked. FQF is the only time of the year when Antoine's allows a non-profit community organization to “take over” – celebrating the opening of FQF at this grand Gala event.

         Guests feasted on Antoine's signature dishes, an open bar courtesy of Abita Brewing Company and Brown-Forman/ Republic Beverages, and mingling with the Merry Antoinettes. The Patron Party took place from 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. with entertainment from Tony Green and Gypsy Jazz. The Gala continued from 8:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. with entertainment provided by Players Ella and Louis Tribute Band and Sarah Quintana. Patron tickets were $250 and Gala tickets were $155 ($175 beginning April 1). In addition to single tickets, a limited number of VIP packages were available; packages included private gala seating with dedicated waiter and wristbands for front-of-stage access during festival weekend.


Sponsors help to keep FQF a true community event – Chevron returns as Title Sponsor of FQF and Satchmo SummerFest

         FQFI is proud of its history of providing high-quality community events at no cost and being accessible to all, reps said. In order to keep the Festival free and open to the public, the organization relies heavily on the contributions of sponsors and partners, beverage and merchandise sales and vendor fees. Festival organizers welcome the return of Chevron as Title Sponsor of both FQF and Satchmo SummerFest. "Chevron is thrilled to return as presenting sponsor of the 34th annual French Quarter Festival," said Leah Brown Public Affairs Manager, Chevron Gulf of Mexico. "Chevron values local arts and culture. Our partnership with French Quarter Festivals, Inc. is one way we fuel the social and economic vitality of New Orleans and Louisiana."

         Abita Brewing Company, Brown-Forman, New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, NOLA.com/Times-Picayune, OffBeat Magazine, Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, Tropical Isle, Rouses, and WWL-TV also return as major sponsors of FQF. 

         GE Digital has signed a three-year agreement to return as a major sponsor supporting a riverfront stage as well as the Festival's official apps. The free FQF iPhone and Android App lets fans download music schedules, complete menus, special events, merchandise updates, and unique offers to enhance their festival experience.

         Additional sponsors include: Acadian Ambulance, Amtrak, Antoine's Restaurant, Bayou Rum, The Berger Company, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Cajun Corner, Cinema on the Bayou, Chevrolet, Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, Crescent Crown Distributing, Crimestoppers, Cumulus New Orleans, Data News Weekly, DownBeat Magazine, ESPN New Orleans, French Market Corporation, Hermann-Grima House, House of Blues, IntheNola.com, I.T.S. Fire Alarm Security, LLC, Jimmy John's, KKAY, Kingfish Kitchen and Cocktails, KREWE du optic, Laurel Communications, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, Live Free Magazine, Louisiana Cookin', Louisiana Division of the Arts, Louisiana Lottery, Mardi Gras World, Mark Wasserman, Morris Bart Attorneys, Musician's Performance Fund, NCIS: New Orleans, New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, New Orleans Original Daiquiris, NOLA Jitterbugs, Palm Court Jazz Cafe, Pan American Life Insurance Group, Paris Parker/Aveda, Pat O'Brien's, Patricia Pamulo, Pepsi, The Plant Gallery, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Preservation Hall, Renaissance Publishing, Rentech Solutions, Republic National Distributing, Royal House, Royal Sonesta, State Farm, Steinway and Sons, Taste of the South, Tour Louisiana, Touro, The Vinyl District, Uptown Messenger, WBOK, Westin New Orleans Canal Place, WHERE Magazine, Where Y'at Magazine, Windsor Court Hotel, Whitney Bank, WHIV, WWL-AM, WWOZ, WWNO 89.9 FM, WRNO 99.5, WYLD, Zapp's Potato Chips, and Zatarain's.

         FQF presented by Chevron is produced by FQFI, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which also produces Satchmo SummerFest presented by Chevron in August and Christmas New Orleans Style in December. FQFI's mission is to promote the Vieux Carré and the City of New Orleans through high quality special events and activities that showcase the culture and heritage of New Orleans, contribute to the economic well-being of the community and instill increased pride in the people of New Orleans.

         For more information


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