The 2019 French Quarter Festival has unveiled its initial roster of almost exclusively local performers from across the spectrum of south Louisiana music.
From April 11-14, the 36th edition of the free festival will present more than 200 acts on nearly two-dozen stages throughout the French Quarter and along the Mississippi Riverfront downtown, stretching from the Old U.S. Mint to Woldenberg Park.
Galactic, the contemporary funk band whose members recently bought Tipitina’s, will make its French Quarter Fest debut on Thursday, April 11. Galactic is the most prominent of the three-dozen new artists on the festival’s roster.
Many acts that were rained out during the 2018 festival – for the first time in the French Quarter Fest’s 35-year history, an entire day was canceled altogether due to the threat of severe weather — have been rebooked this year.
On Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, the festival will fill 23 stages. Those stages include the new Pan-American Life Insurance Group Stage along the Moonwalk on the riverfront. That stage will host cellist Helen Gillet & Wazozo, percussionist Jason Marsalis’ 21st Century Trad Band, and pianist Tom McDermott & His Jazz Hellions.
Chevron will once again be the festival’s presenting sponsor.
The Chevron Stage, which sits near the Bienville statue where Decatur and North Peters streets merge, has traditionally been the exclusive domain of Cajun and zydeco music.
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The evening programming on those stages will be more diverse this spring with the addition of keyboardist Jon Cleary, bassist George Porter Jr.’s Runnin’ Pardners, funk-rock band Flow Tribe and high-energy entertainer Rockin’ Dopsie.
Ayo Scott, a 2003 Xavier University graduate, has rendered the official 2019 French Quarter Fest poster depicting Irma Thomas, who is once again on the bill this year.
French Quarter Festivals Inc., the non-profit organization that produces the festival, instituted a recycling program during another one of its festivals, Satchmo Summerfest, in 2018.
The organization plans to expand that recycling program to the French Quarter Fest this year, although a sponsor for the program is still being sought.
Admission to the French Quarter Fest is free, but the festival has a “Fest Family” VIP program. Buyers of VIP packages are granted access to reserved viewing areas at some of the main stages, drink coupons redeemable at beverage booths or private bar areas, private air-conditioned restrooms and other amenities. New this year is a single-day VIP ticket for $99. Weekend-long packages are also available.
Attendance in 2018 was estimated by organizers to be 560,000. Had Saturday not been canceled entirely, that figure would have been considerably higher.
Four-day attendance in 2017 was pegged at 700,000. In 2016, it was estimated to be 760,000, though an exact figure for a festival with an open configuration and no tickets is impossible to determine precisely.
Follow Keith Spera on Twitter, @KeithSpera.