French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron was named 2015 “Best Large Festival” in New Orleans byOffBeat Magazine and the “one thing to do in Louisiana” by the Huffington Post. With over 1,700 local musicians, it is considered the largest showcase of Louisiana music in the world and one of the largest events in Louisiana behind Mardi Gras, with an average economic impact of $200 million.
Over Two Dozen New Artists Making their Festival Debuts
Year after year, French Quarter Festival is voted ‘locals’ favorite’ while also attracting a tremendous out-of-town audience. 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, French Quarter Festival has been committed to featuring New Orleans’ finest artists on stages all over the French Quarter. The tradition continues in 2016 with the return of 23 stages including two stages that launched last year: the Spanish Plaza Stage sponsored by The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk with Harrah’s New Orleans and the Omni Royal Orleans Stage located at 500 Royal Street.
Festival organizers welcome new Jackson Square stage sponsor Smokefree NOLA. The organization will transform Jackson Square into a smoke-free environment all four days of festival. At the Smokefree NOLA Jackson Square Stage, fans can enjoy James Andrews, John Boutté, PresHall Brass, Jeremy Davenport, Delfeayo Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Davell Crawford, Shannon Powell, Lena Prima, Paul Sanchez, and many more significant New Orleans musicians.
The 2016 French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron brings more than 1,700 local artists and over two dozen new acts. On Locals’ Lagniappe Day, Thursday, April 7, Cowboy Mouth will make their debut on the riverfront Abita Beer Stage. The Louisiana natives have played more than 2,500 concerts, sold more than 500,000 albums, and performed with artists like Bo Diddley. Blues musician Sonny Landreth also makes an April 7 debut on the riverfront Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage. Slide-guitarist Landreth has been called “the King of Slydeco” and plays with a strong zydeco influence. A frequent performer at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival with over a dozen albums, Clapton has called him ‘one of the most advanced guitarists in the world’.
Buckwheat Zydeco can claim the three largest selling Zydeco albums of all time. The musician tours the world nonstop, and has gigged with everyone from U2 to Eric Clapton to the Boston Pops. He makes his debut on the Abita Beer Stage Sunday, April 10. Also debuting April 10 is soul singer Jean Knight, whose sassy, funk classic “Mr. Big Stuff” was one of the largest-selling singles ever released by the legendary Stax label.
Other debuts include Amy Nicole & Zydeco Soul, Andre Bohren, Andy J Forest Trio, Bad Penny Pleasuremakers, Caesar Brothers Funk Box, Cha Wa, Chance Bushman & The Ibervillianaires, Charlie Halloran and the Quality 6, Charlie Wooton Project, Daniele Spadavecchia & Sicilian Swing, Dex Daley & Jam-X, Goat in the Road (Comedy Troupe), Little Maker, MainLine, Mason Ruffner, Pascal Valcasara Quartet, Sarah Quintana & the Miss River Band, T’Canaille, Thais Clark & her JAZZsters, The Batture Boys, featuring Tommy Malone and Ray Ganucheau, The Salt Wives, and Wes Raymond &The SOUL Factory.
Special Events to Honor the Beloved Performer
Allen Toussaint, one of the most influential figures in New Orleans R&B, unexpectedly passed away in November 2015. Earlier that year, French Quarter Festival was honored to feature the celebrated songwriter, record producer, and musician throughout the 2015 French Quarter Festival – with a performance on the riverfront Abita Stage, participation in the Festival’s Let Them Talk symposium to talk about his life and career, and his attendance at the Festival’s Film Fest, where a new film about him was screened. Toussaint was also the 2015 ‘Face of the Festival’, with his photograph gracing the French Quarter Festival publicity and advertising campaigns.
In 2016, three special events will honor him. On Sunday, April 10, the festival’s Let Them Talk: Conversations on Louisiana Music symposium will present From Southern Nights to Hall-of-Fame Heights: Remembering Allen Toussaint. During this panel, Grammy-winning record producer Scott Billington and an all-star panel – including another Grammy-winner – the great Irma Thomas; award-winning music journalist and biographer Ben Sandmel; and bassist Roland Guerin – a long-time member of Allen Toussaint’s band – will share Allen Toussaint stories and memories.
At 11 a.m. on Friday, April 8 at Whitney Bank Film Fest at French Quarter Festival with Timecode: NOLA, the film A Tribute to Toussaint will be screened to celebrate the life of the late musician, composer, producer, and humanitarian. Additionally, the 2016 Film Fest will be dedicated to the beloved performer.
On Friday, April 8, 2016, an official after-party hosted by the House of Blues will honor Allen Toussaint. This special event will be a fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting Toussaint’s foundation – New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness (founded by Allen Toussaint & Aaron Neville in 1985). Performers include The Allen Toussaint Band, Leo Nocentelli (The Meters), Big Sam (Big Sam’s Funky Nation), James Andrews, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Davell Crawford, Robin Barnes, and more. Doors open at 8pm for the 9pm show. Tickets range from $35-$70 and are available at http://www.houseofblues.com/
A Showcase of New Orleans’ Finest Cuisine
In a city famous for its wealth of delicious, decadent, and unique food, French Quarter Festival gives attendees a taste of the best of the best at the ‘The World’s Largest Jazz Brunch’. Over 60 vendors feature classic New Orleans dishes as well as cuisine from the finest chefs in the region. In 2016, French Quarter Festival welcomes vendors Andrea’s Restaurant, Big Cheezy, The Blue Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Dirty Dishes, Diva Dawg, Kingfish Kitchen and Cocktails, Miss Linda The Yakamein Lady, Petite Rouge Café Camionette, The Rum House, and Whoodoo BBQ with menu items that range from Eggplant Crab Cake Meunière to Dirty Mac ‘n Cheese, Gumbo Dawg, and Fried Pork Chop Sandwiches. In order to maintain the authenticity and quality of the cuisine, the Jazz Brunch Committee evaluated each new vendor to ensure they meet specific criteria for participating.
A number of restaurants have been with the festival since its beginning in 1984: Desire Oyster Bar, Court of Two Sisters, Pat O’Brien’s, Trey Yuen, Tujague’s, and Vaucresson Sausage. Other festival favorites return for 2016, including Antoine’s, Bennachin, Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, Galatoire’s, GW Fins, House of Blues, Jacques-Imo’s, K-Paul’s, Lasyone’s Meat Pies, Love at First Bite, Mrs. Wheat’s, Muriel’s Jackson Square, Praline Connection, Restaurant R’evolution, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Three Muses, and more. Also returning is the NOLA.com Eat, Drink, Café picnic area located at Woldenberg Riverfront Park. In addition, the official schedule includes a tribute to beloved Chef and festival restaurant vendor, Chef Paul Prudhomme.
New for 2016: The official festival app, developed by GE Digital, is now integrated with Google maps, allowing attendees to easily pinpoint vendor locations and travel times. The app, which will be released late March, also includes a new search function that will allow fans to search for favorite foods by name in addition to name and location.
Timecode: NOLA returns to Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré
French Quarter Festivals, Inc. and Timecode:NOLA will continue their partnership, and welcome new sponsor Whitney Bank to offer Whitney Bank Film Festival at French Quarter Festival. Timecode:NOLA, a New Orleans film industry collective focusing on local talent and opportunities, has curated three full days of programming, selecting fascinating, rarely-seen gems that focus on Louisiana music, culture, and neighborhoods. The 2016 program is dedicated to Allen Toussaint.
A Warehouse on Tchoupitoulas is a look at the legendary New Orleans club’s 12 year history hosting some of the best musicians in the world, including Bob Dylan, The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Who, Bob Marley, David Bowie, The Clash, The Talking Heads, and Dr. John. Another film, We Won’t Bow Down, provides a glimpse into New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian culture.
The National Park Service will celebrate its centennial with a Sunday screening of Un Bal Cajun et Créole À La Maison (A Cajun & Creole House Party), which highlights the American treasures of Cajun and Creole music, featuring four musicians who are fluent speakers of Louisiana Cajun and Creole. Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes, Leroy Etienne, Bruce Daigrepont, and Michael Doucet all share stories and the stage together to show why South Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole culture is unique and worth preserving during this very special event.
Whitney Bank Film Fest at French Quarter Festival takes place at Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré- celebrating its 100th birthday in 2016- one of the oldest community theatres in the country. Click here for full schedule.
Irma Thomas, and more
Chevron Children’s Headquarters Returns to the Natchez Wharf
French Quarter Festivals, Inc. is thrilled to announce the return of two children’s areas to the 2016 French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron. 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 9 and Sunday, April 10. “At Chevron we value partnership, and at French Quarter Festival we’re working with our partners to encourage children to get excited about science, technology, engineering, art and math,” said Chevron Gulf of Mexico Public Affairs Manager Leah Brown. “The Chevron STEAM Zone is a fun, interactive environment with 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 2016.”
Chevron supports many organizations in the community, and at French Quarter Festival they collaborate with several of them to create educational STEAM Zone experiences. Project Lead the Way will showcase Vex robotics; in addition to competing in various challenges, participants will learn design, manipulations, and programming. The George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts returns with a hands-on oak tree art project that explores the Cajun landscape. Children will help build a living shoreline and learn about oyster reefs with the Nature Conservancy. The New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, celebrating its centennial, once again will invite kids to become ‘Junior Rangers’ by teaching them survival tips as well as how to help protect and preserve the parks of New Orleans. The National Park Service Centennial Stage for Kids will bring two days of performances; festival organizers will also host a celebration, with birthday cake and a sing-a-long!
A second children’s area at the Hermann-Grima House will feature a historic photo booth, crafts, book giveaways, and educational projects. Community partners include the Beauregard-Keyes House and Garden Museum, Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans Public Library, Preservation Resource Center, and Young Audiences of Louisiana. The beautiful courtyard gardens of the Hermann-Grima House are located at 820 St. Louis Street.
Guests will enjoy Antoine’s signature dishes 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 Jean Knight, Big Sam, and Robin Barnes. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online atwww.fqfi.org 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 during festival weekend.
Other Special Events, Programs, and Festival Extras
– French Quarter Festival Second-Line Kickoff Parade will take place Thursday, April 7 at 10 a.m. The parade departs from the 100 block of Bourbon Street and makes its way to Jackson Square.
– Dance Lessons, Battle of the Bands, Dancing at Dusk, Pirates Alley Juried Art Show, St. Louis Cathedral Spring Concert, Opera at Dusk, Let Them Talk Symposium, Film Fest at French Quarter Fest, and two children’s areas, including Chevron Children’s Headquarters STEAM ZONE are beloved special events that all return for the 2016 French Quarter Festival.
Celebrating Bunny Matthews
French Quarter Festivals, Inc. proudly unveils the 2016 French Quarter Festival merchandise with posters by French artists Isabelle Jacopin and Simon Hardeveld, a limited-edition festival shirt designed by beloved artist Bunny Matthews, and shirts manufactured by New Orleans-based tasc Performance. The tasc Performance apparel is made without the use of chemical enhancements and uses bamboo-based natural fibers. French Quarter Festival is excited to take festival merchandise to a whole new level of quality, comfort, exciting design, and natural materials while supporting a Louisiana business. To keep the festival free and open to the public, French Quarter Festival relies heavily on merchandise and poster sales, sponsorships, and beverage sales to generate its operating budget. Visit www.fqfi.org/shop to purchase official festival merchandise.
Abita, Brown-Forman, French Market Corporation, Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, Tropical Isle, Rouses,The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, OffBeat Magazine, and WWL-TV also return as Major Sponsors of French Quarter Festival.
GE Digital also returns as a major sponsor supporting a riverfront stage as well as the Festival’s official apps and Social Media Lounge. The FREE French Quarter Festival iPhone App is back, along with the Android App, courtesy of GE Digital. Fans can receive up to the minute announcements, downloadable music schedules, complete menus, special events, merchandise updates, shuttle information, and unique offers to enhance their festival experience. The application will be available for download late March.
In partnership with New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, Solomon Group, and GE Digital a newSocial Media Lounge will be launched at JAX Brewery. The area will be a resource for festival updates and information, with media personalities, café tables, and internet access. Attendees are encouraged to use hashtags #fqfest and #fqfest16.