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Gambit picks 13 French Quarter Fest acts to catch

While FQF is famous for presenting familiar favorites, here are a few fresh spins you might enjoy



There are roughly 1 million performances throughout the French Quarter and its surrounding venues during French Quarter Fest. First things first: dance lessons. Keep up with the NOLA Jitterbugs on the French Market Traditional Jazz Stage on Saturday and Sunday. For something more low-key, the BMI Songwriter Stage at the Historic New Orleans Collection offers more than a dozen performances by rising New Orleans songwriters, from Kristin Diable and Alexis Marceaux to Andrew Duhon and Colin Lake. Otherwise, you can't go wrong following your ears — here are several highlights that might be off your radar.

Thu., April 9

PresHall Brass
11:15 a.m.-12:25 p.m.
Capital One Bank Jackson Square Stage (at Jackson Square)
Preservation Hall's latest outfit is this brass band led by Maynard Chatters and featuring members of the Olympia and Young Tuxedo brass bands.

Partners-N-Crime & The Big Easy Bounce Band feat. DJ Jubilee
3:50 p.m.-5 p.m.
Tropical Isle Hand Grenade Stage (Woldenberg Park at Toulouse Street)
A rare hip-hop event at French Quarter Fest, the New Orleans rap duo (Mr. Meana and Kango Slimm) pairs with bounce founding father DJ Jubilee. PNC had a big local hit with 1994's bounce-influenced "Pump tha Party" and has remained a steady presence in New Orleans hip-hop, with a live band featuring a funk lineup of horns, keys and guitars.

Jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra play music from the Beatles, Grateful Dead and Stevie Wonder on Thursday. - PHOTO COURTESY IRVIN MAYFIELD
  • Photo courtesy Irvin Mayfield
  • Jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra play music from the Beatles, Grateful Dead and Stevie Wonder on Thursday.

Irvin Mayfield and NOJO: The Music of Stevie Wonder, The Beatles and The Grateful Dead
5:20 p.m.-6:45 p.m.
Abita Beer Stage (Woldenberg Park at St. Louis Street)
New Orleans Jazz Orchestra bandleader Irvin Mayfield takes a stab at a few sacred cows. An R&B legend, rock 'n' roll icons and a jam band whose catalog stretches to infinity? Mayfield, a musical renaissance man, shouldn't have a problem.

Fri., April 10

Lynn Drury
12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.
GE Capital/New Orleans Tech Big River Stage (Canal Street at the river)
The New Orleans singer-songwriter's release Come to My House was one of 2014's best local releases, a soulful, pop-forward Americana album with equal shades Patti Griffin and Liz Phair.

New Breed Brass Band
4 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
Popeyes Barracks St. Brass Band Jam with Offbeat Magazine (The Old U.S. Mint at Barracks Street)
This next generation, three-year-old brass band combines hip-hop and funk with its powerful brass repertoire. A recent collaboration ("Watcha Workin' It Fa") with bounce rapper 5th Ward Weebie puts bounce energy into second-line grooves with tight, jazzy horn lines.

Steve, Sasha and Martin Masakowski
5 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta (300 Bourbon St.)
The Masakowski family jazz band includes guitarist Steve Masakowski, his son Martin on bass and daughter Sasha, an accomplished jazz vocalist.

Sat., April 11

Helen Gillet's Wazozo Orchestra
Noon-1:30 p.m.
Omni Royal Orleans Hotel Stage (500 block of Royal Street)
On the heels of her excellent March album Bangkok Silver, multi-instrumentalist Helen Gillet leads this all-French big band performing works by Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg and The Velvet Underground and others, including several of Gillet's compositions.

King James & the Special Men
2:15 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk and Harrah's New Orleans Stage (Spanish Plaza)
Rolling barroom piano, smoky pipes, chunky guitars and drippy horns — that's the sound of the Special Men's rhythm and blues from their longstanding Monday night residency inside BJ's Lounge in Bywater. Will they melt in the sunshine? We hope not.

Lost Bayou Ramblers
5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
Chevron Cajun/Zydeco Showcase (North Peters Street at Bienville Street)
The stars of Cajun music's current rock 'n' roll love affair, the Ramblers released the live disc Gasa Gasa Live last year, capturing the band at its rowdiest, a snapshot of its ability to turn any setting into a Lafayette roadhouse.

Los Otros
5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
WWL's Esplanade in the Shade Stage (Esplanade Avenue at the Old U.S. Mint)
Among a small but growing roster of Brazilian and Latin bands in New Orleans, this octet, founded by Otra's Sam Price, also performs Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz-inspired takes on popular music.

Sun., April 12

Cristina Perez
1:30 p.m.-2:45 p.m.
Cafe Maspero's Stage (400 block of Royal Street)
The jazz singer's latest single, "The Sweetest Thing," is a relaxed, contemporary but classic love song, featuring her warm, sultry voice in front of a loose combo with bluesy guitar.

Rory Danger & the Danger Dangers
3:45 p.m.-5:15 p.m.
WWL's Esplanade in the Shade Stage (Esplanade Avenue at the Old U.S. Mint)
The supergroup features Aurora Nealand, Andre and Spencer Bohren and members of Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes and others, all posing as their alter egos with Danger surnames. The band performs frantic surf rock, rockabilly, doo-wop, sea shanties — and it all somehow works together in its madness.

Tuba Skinny
4:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
French Market Traditional Jazz Stage (French Market Place)
The New Orleans traditional jazz and busker blues outfit — banjo, clarinet, washboard, trombone, and, yes, tuba — released its fourth album, Owl Call Blues, in 2014.

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