This week we’ve got a French Quarter Fest special for you. Go enjoy the food, festivities, and all of the live music. Here’s a look at my three favorites for this upcoming weekend.
Friday, April 13 from 7:30-8:45pm
Abita Beer Stage
You won’t find a more authentic New Orleans band than Chocolate Milk. Just start with the name. It’s so clever, yet simple, that it makes you jealous you didn’t think of it first. Similarly, Chocolate Milk may not be the first big New Orleans funk band from the ‘70s that comes to mind. Most people think of The Meters. The Meters are awesome, don’t get me wrong. But Chocolate Milk, despite their brief recording history together, has put together some of the city’s best and funkiest jams.
The eight-piece band has multiple funk and R&B hits that you may not even realize are theirs. One such song is “Groove City,” a classic that’ll make you do exactly that: groove. You can’t help but dance along to that smooth, captivating beat.
Whether it’s in the studio or live, you’ll always get the full ensemble including the rhythm section and horns. Part of what makes Chocolate Milk so special is their ability to replicate that wonderful studio sound in their live performances (which can’t be said for many bigger funk/R&B bands of the time).
In addition to recording with Paul McCartney, the band is also featured on Allen Toussaint’s 1976 album New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest. Somehow, this is the band’s first ever performance at French Quarter Fest. You need to take the time to go see one of New Orleans’s own and very best. By the end of the night, they’ll have you worn out from all the dancing you’ve been doing.
Here’s the vinyl of my favorite song “Who’s Getting It Now”
Friday, April 13 from 7:30-9pm
Chevron Cajun/Zydeco Showcase
Zachary Richard is one of the best that Louisiana has to offer, musically or otherwise. He is an absolute gem. Shockingly, it is Richard’s French Quarter Fest debut as well. And while maybe not a household name for many, he certainly should be.
The Cajun artist is from Lafayette and graduated from Tulane in 1972. He received an advance on an accordion from a record label in the early ‘70s and hasn’t looked back. Since then, he’s been a force to be reckoned with on the Cajun and Zydeco music scenes.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone better over the last forty years. Richard has released an astounding twenty albums, including multiple gold and platinum albums. Richard’s song “La ballade de Jean Batailleur” is quickly becoming one of my favorite songs that I’ve discovered.
The ballad, like most of Richard’s songs, is entirely in French. The beautiful thing is the music connects with you all the same–whether you’re a native French speaker or it’s your first time ever hearing the language. The lyrics of Jean Batailleur are actually quite sad. Yet, this is overshadowed by the power of Richard’s voice and the wonderful beat. Everything comes together perfectly with the violin, drums, and guitar all building together throughout the ballad.
While Richard does have a number of English songs, there’s something especially sensational about hearing him perform in French. If you haven’t listened to him before, Zachary Richard will open you up to an entirely new musical experience
Sunday, April 15 from 2:10-3:25 pm
Abita Beer Stage
The Dixie Cups
The Dixie Cups are now celebrating over fifty years together. Some of the best groups of all-time have come and gone, but we’ve always had The Dixie Cups.
The trio burst onto the scene in 1964 with their hit “Chapel of Love” making it all the way to number one. The band currently consists of the Hawkins sisters, Babara Ann and Rosa Lee, in addition to Athelgra Neville (sister to the Neville Brothers). Together, the group will perform some of the bands classic hits, as well as other pop hits from back in the day.
Watching The Dixie Cups perform is like taking a nice stroll down memory lane, for some. You don’t see groups with matching outfits and perfectly synchronized dance moves anymore. It’s unique to see a group performing in a similar fashion, with the same energy, as they did when they began fifty years ago. And don’t you let their ages fool you, these women can still bust a move.
Recently, they’ve incorporated more music from fellow musicians of their time, which has brought even more flavor into their performances. Yet, what they do best may be one of New Orleans’s most classic (and over-recorded) hits. Their rendition of “Iko Iko” from 1965 is actually one of the earliest recorded versions. The Hawkins sister’s grandmother taught them the song. Their version is guaranteed to have everyone dancing and singing along.
I love the classic TV version
Alex Abramson is a writer for NolaVie who is a student at Washington and Lee University when he’s not in town listening to music, attending his brother’s sporting events, and updating his playlist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send your thoughts, any recommendations, and info if you have live music playing at your venue.