2023 French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron: It’s Time to Party

Samantha Fish (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)

Tricia Boutte (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)


By Ricky Richardson | Contributing Writer

        (New Orleans, LA) The non-profit French Quarter Festival, Inc. (FQF) celebrated a milestone, 40th Anniversary, April 13-16, 2023. French Quarter Festival, presented by Chevron, the largest free festival and showcase of Louisiana music, food and culture, was held across various venues and stages throughout the French Quarter neighborhood.

        French Quarter Festival has charmed New Orleans since it first began in 1984, designed to remind locals how fabulous and fun the French Quarter can be. Stages are set up on practically every corner; cuisine from the city’s finest restaurants fills booths in Jackson Square, and beyond. This grand fete has evolved into something everyone adores-tourists and locals alike. This is reason enough to follow the advice of Earth Wind and Fire, “Celebrate,” “Sing a Song,” and “Let’s Groove.”

        This year 875,000 attendees from near and far made their way to New Orleans’ historic French Quarter for the annual French Quarter Festival. These massive celebrations shine the spotlight on the food, talented musicians and art and culture of this beloved neighborhood. The festivities were held from the Riverfront all the way to Jackson Square. Guests indulged in countless local bits, live music performances, and special events and activities.

        “This 40th-anniversary celebration proved to be a beautiful celebration of our favorite traditions,” said Emily Madero, President and CEO of FQFI. “We successfully produced an event with more than 270 performances from local musicians and dined with more than 60 of the best culinary experiences along with nearly 875,000 fans over four magnificent days.”

        “Walter J. Leger III, President & CEO of New Orleans & Company said, “The 40th anniversary French Quarter Fest was a resounding success with large joyous crowds, hotel occupancy far above 2022 levels, and an economic boost for our local musicians and cultural bearers. French Quarter Fest proved why New Orleans is Built to Host specials events better than any other city.”

        “Chevron is proud to have once again served as the presenting sponsor of French Quarter Festival, especially during their 40th anniversary,” said Chevron Gulf of Mexico Public Affairs Manager Leah Brown. “Over the last four decades, the festival has made countless positive contributions to the community as it showcases Louisiana’s unique music, culture, and cuisine.”

        On Thursday Morning, April 13th, a large crowd of tourists, and locals converged on Bourbon Street for the Festival Kick-Off Parade. This colorful, lively and vibrant parade featured performing bands such as The Black Magic Drumline, New Birth Brass Band, New Wave Brass Band, Mahogany Brass Band and TBC Brass Band marching with sponsors, and other dignitaries. The parade proceeded on Bourbon Street to St. Ann Street, and to its final destination in Jackson Square.

        The Opening Ceremony consisted of warm welcome remarks from founders and festival dignitaries and concluded with a Blessing of the weather with Father Phillip Landry.

        The marathon showcases of stellar lineup of musicians got underway with wonderful set presented by Preservation Brass Band on the GE Stage in Jackson Square. Tuba Skinny thrilled the captivated crowd during their time in the spotlight.

        Gerard Delafose and The Zydeco Gators was one of many bands that had the crowd two-stepping, waltzing to their upbeat sounds.  Opening day featured sets by Kid Chocolate, an energetic set of straight-ahead jazz of Delfeayo Marsalis & the Uptown Jazz Orchestra. The day concluded with Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas who set off some musical fireworks into the stratosphere by way of her vocal range.

        Friday, Day 2- opened with an entertaining set by John Boutté on the GE Stage in Jackson Square, followed by a showcase of Louisiana culture with Big Chief Bo Dollis Jr. & the Wild Magnolias on the Abita Stage.

Robin Barnes (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)

        Tricia Boutte & Mahogany Hall, All Stars, followed by Robin Barnes & Flyabirds performed a captivating, crowd pleasing set during their respective sets on the Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage.

Samantha Fish (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)

        Guitar shredder Samantha Fish (Abita Stage) and violinist Amanda Shaw (Chevron Stage) put on an electrifying performance to the delight of the crowd.

        Saturday, Day 3- kicked off with an exciting performance with Seguenon Kone featuring Ivoire Spectacle on the Abita Stage.  This group performance was high-octane as they took the crowd and me on a musical journey of traditional West African drumming, dancing and singing.

        There is a popular blues song entitled “The Blues is Alright” and the late great Willie Dixon stated, “the blues is a fact of life.” Local legendary bluesman Little Freddie King performed an excellent set of original blues tunes. The festival had to close for a couple of hours due to inclement weather.

        Washboard Chaz Blues Trio performed once the festival resumed. You were in the right place at the right time if you wanted to kick up your heels at the Chevron Stage in JAX Lot featuring back-to-back sets by Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots and Rosie Ledat & the Zydeco Playboys for a good time while two-stepping and waltzing, grooving and moving their happy feet. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and The Golden Eagles closed out the evening on the Chevron Stage.

        Sunday-Day 4- The Spirit of the Lord was present at the Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage on this beautiful Sunday morning. The Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage has presented Gospel music on stage for the last 29 years.  We are having Church with the legendary Zion Harmonizers that had the crowd clapping their hands, stomping their feet while shouting glorious praises up to the sky.

Kelly Love Jones (Photo Credit: Ricky Richardson)

        Kelly Love Jones, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and percussionist had the crowd vibing with her throughout her amazing set of original tunes on the WWL-TV Esplanade Made in the Shade Stage.

Los Güiros brought on the heat. They spiced up the festivities with some contagious Latin rhythms, Cumbia to the delight of the dancers in the crowd at the Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage.

        Crowd favorite Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers cranked it up as they performed a high-octane set on the Chevron Stage.

        And then there were three. JAMNOLA, the cultural funhouse and experiential museum in the Marigny, returned with the Garden of Legends by Brennan Steele, a series of larger-than-life sculptures featuring local musicians of the past, present and future. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles joins sculptures of Irma Thomas and Tarriona “Tank” Ball at Fest.

        The Gateway to #FQFest, created by artist Farris Armand, made its debut in the 40th Anniversary Hub located in Oscar Dunn Park. The 12ft. arch customized with lights and hand painted art pieces featuring FQF elements became a well-known spot for attendees to grab a group photo with iconic New Orleans landmarks as the backdrop.

        French Quarter Festival presented by Chevron is produced by French Quarter Festival, Inc., (FQFI) the 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, which also produces Satchmo SummerFest in August and Holidays New Orleans Style in December. FQFI’s mission is to promote the Vieux Carré and the City of New Orleans through high-quality special events and activities that showcase the culture and heritage of this unique city, contribute to the economic well-being of the community, and instill increased pride in the people of New Orleans. The 2022 French Quarter Festival generated an economic impact of nearly $250M. For more information about French Quarter Festival, Inc. visit http://www.fqfi.org