(Long Beach, CA) – This festival is always a pleasure never a chore to get around and the 31st annual was no exception. I was only able to make it on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed myself dancing to zydeco, soul, funk, blues! The Mardi Gras parade is fun as it’s headed up by a traditional brass band and very colorful members of the La La Club who are entertainment in themselves! A traditional parade followed by traditional shenanigans!
One of the highlights for me was seeing the Grammy-winning Pine Leaf Boys for the first time in person. Wow! They were not only super talented but really fun to watch! All the acts were so entertaining but other new act standouts for me were T Broussard & Zydeco High Steppers and MJ’s Brass Boppers from my hometown of Oakland. It is hard to see it all between also perusing the cool craft vendors and tempting food. I specifically came out for one of my faves, headliner Café R&B who always kill! More wow’s!
This festival is exciting, yet laid-back, there are nice sized dancefloors at each stage. The extra-large Zydeco Stage dancefloor is always filled with colorful dancers, has dance instruction between bands and provides shade around the perimeter. Along with the dancefloor at the New Orleans Stage, they also supply seating and there are a few shade trees. This stage is where they feature mainly soul, rock and blues acts plus provide dance lessons. There is a huge covered area near the food vendors and has a view of the Zydeco stage. Many make it an annual family outing or a chance for a group of friends to pitch a shade tent or chairs together, some decorate their spaces, everyone’s always smiling and friendly.
Festival goer John Quinlan had this to say, “I had so much fun. The setting Rainbow Lagoon Park, not far from the ocean in Long Beach, is wonderful — my first experience, never been there before, very picturesque and well kept. The place was rockin’, lots of people. The vibe was mellow and fun. A great mix of people, all there to have a good time. There was plenty of good food, with a wide variety of types and styles to please the palate. I met a lot of really nice people, ate, danced, and totally enjoyed the whole experience.”
Photos: Michele Lundeen and John Quinlan