French Quarter Festival Opening Night Gala Special Guests Include Governor John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Carl LeBlanc, Angela Hill, Eric Paulsen, and others
Honorary Co-Chairs and special guests include: Governor John Bel Edwards, Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu, Mike Illanne, Vice President of Chevron North America, Gulf of Mexico Business Unit, Angela Hill, and Eric Paulsen.
Guests will enjoy tastings by Antoine’s and an open bar courtesy of Abita Brewing Company and Brown-Forman/Republic Beverages. The Patron Party takes place from 7-8:00 pm with entertainment from Carl LeBlanc. The Gala is 8-10:30 pm with entertainment provided by the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band with special guests Jean Knight, Big Sam, and Robin Barnes.
Guitarist and banjo player Carl LeBlanc is famous for blending varying styles of jazz- both traditional and avant-garde with bebop and New Orleans tradition, namely Mardi Gras Indian and second-line style. LeBlanc joined Sun Ra’s Arkestra in the mid-1980s before becoming permanent banjo player at Preservation Hall. He has performed with Fats Domino, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, the Dirty Dozen, Allen Toussaint, Bo Diddley, Ellis Marsalis Jr., James Rivers, Blind Boys of Alabama, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.
The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, named for the Tuxedo Dance Hall in the Storyville district, was founded in1910 by cornetist Oscar “Papa” Celestin. The current bandleader, Gerald French, hails from a New Orleans musical dynasty that has led the band for the last three generations. Before picking up the reins, French spent 14 years with Charmaine Neville and has backed Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, trumpeters Leroy Jones and Gregg Stafford, clarinetist Michael White and pianist Lars Edegran, among others. He has been a regular at the Palm Court Jazz Café and Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub, and masks with the Wild Magnolias Mardi Gras Indians.
The gala takes place at Antoine’s Restaurant. Established in 1840, Antoine’s, the country’s oldest family-run restaurant, celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2015. During the Gala, guests will enjoy 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. French Quarter Festival is the only time of the year when Antoine’s allows a non-profit community organization to ‘take over’ – celebrating the opening of French Quarter Festival at this grand Gala event.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Roots of Music, an organization whose mission is to teach, support, and empower New Orleans’ youth through music education, academic support, and mentorship while preserving and promoting New Orleans’ unique musical and cultural heritage. Proceeds will also benefit Jackson Square improvements and beautification. French Quarter Festival enjoys the privilege of being the only festival to produce in Jackson Square.
Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online or by calling 504-227-3124. Patron tickets are $250 and Gala tickets are $125 ($150 beginning April 1). In addition to single tickets, a limited number of VIP packages are available; packages include private gala seating with dedicated waiter and wristbands for front-of-stage access at festival.