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Music

French Quarter Festival Returns After Two-Year COVID Hiatus

February 21, 2022

NEW ORLEANS — It’s been two years since the largest free festival and showcase of Louisiana music, food and culture has taken place in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

But that changes in April, when the 2022 French Quarter Festival returns. The coronavirus pandemic forced organizers to cancel the event in 2020 and last year.

“We have worked and waited patiently and now the countdown to our 2022 spring festival has officially begun,” said Emily Madero, president and chief executive of French Quarter Festivals, Inc., the nonprofit that produces the event. “We are returning strong with over 1,800 local musicians, more than 50 chefs and restaurants, new interactive fan experiences, and evening programming across the city. FQFI is proud to kick off the festival season in New Orleans with a truly authentic celebration and we welcome everyone to join us for an unforgettable four days.”

Thousands of people are expected to fill the French Quarter, from the Old U.S. Mint to Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi Riverfront, to hear more than 260 acts that will perform on the festival’s 20 stages from April 21 through April 24. The event will kick off three straight weeks of music as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is set to launch the following two weekends at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

Singer Tarriona “Tank” Ball was on hand to help announce the festival’s springtime revival, The Times Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.

“I love the food, I love the people, I love how open and free it is,” Ball said, beaming. “We’re happy to be back.”

Ball, of the Grammy-nominated group Tank and the Bangas, joins a roster of artists scheduled to perform including Irma Thomas, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, the Soul Rebels, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Amanda Shaw, Chubby Carrier, Little Freddie King, John Boutte, Jeremy Davenport and singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones, who will be making her festival debut.

Other artists performing for the first time include Loose Cattle, the Americana band led by Tony Award-winning actor and part-time New Orleans resident Michael Cerveris; the Lilli Lewis Project; Da Truth Brass Band; Gumbeaux Juice; the Electric Yat Quartet; Notel Motel and Cuban-born percussionist Alexey Marti.

The music will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The complete schedule is to be released in late March.

General admission is free, but VIP packages are available at $129 per day or $399 for the four-day weekend.

More than 50 local restaurants will supply the festival’s food booths.

In both 2020 and 2021, the French Quarter Festival, like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, postponed its usual springtime festival to the fall, in the hopes that COVID infection rates would die down. Also like Jazz Fest, the French Quarter Fest ended up canceling its fall dates as well.

But about 1,500 musicians and gig workers contracted for last years festival ended up receiving a partial payment anyway. Those payments were funded by a $150,000 donation from Chevron, the French Quarter Festival’s main sponsor. Jazz Fest also paid musicians a percentage of their original fees last year.

Acts that were supposed to play in 2020 and 2021 were given “first priority” when this year’s French Quarter Festival festival was booked, Madero said.

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