New Orleans is defined geographically and psychologically by water. And no New Orleans festival is in tune with a body of water – specifically Bayou St. John – as the upcoming Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo May 19 through 21.
“This festival is one with the water,” says Boogaloo founder Jared Zeller. “Over the last couple years, I think we realized our niche is Bayou St. John. We’ve really tried to focus on that and encourage people to get in their boats.”
Zeller says you’ll see groups of friends come to the festival and assemble barges that they’ll float out into the bayou. “That really is a great spectacular moment, when we see all the boats in the water, and to see the photos of the people with their handmade vessels, it’s pretty fun,” Zeller says.
While the idea for Bayou Boogaloo began prior to Hurricane Katrina, the plan for the free music festival was really set in motion after the storm.
After returning home to New Orleans, Zeller says he did a quick landscape assessment of his Mid-City neighborhood. “It was pretty devastated as you know, so I said, ‘man, wouldn’t it be great to have something positive to kind of uplift this community and remind us why we live here?’”
So Zeller reached out to neighborhood groups.
“I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this idea, why don’t you come along with me and let’s try this? And we did.”
The first Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo drew about 5,000 people and featured just one music stage. Still, Zeller says, “it was a magical event. We knew that Bayou St. John is a great space, so we kind of just fell in love with that venue.”
This year’s music lineup is, as always, loaded with local acts, including James Martin, Marco Benevento, Luke Winslow King, The Holy Warriors and over a dozen others on three different stages.
Festival goers can also expect food from neighborhood establishments like Clesi’s, Mona’s and Boswell’s. For more information, visit www.thebayouboogaloo.com or the festival’s Facebook page.