April showers bring May flowers (and festivals) to Alexandria! The month is bookended by two action-packed weekends of fun. The celebration kicks off the very first weekend as Downtown Alexandria will come alive for AlexRiverFête, featuring arts, crafts, food, drink, live entertainment, dragon boats, luminaries and much, much more! With only a couple of weeks between to catch your breath, Downtown Alexandria will close the month with the sights and sounds of the Little Walter Music Fest, honoring legendary bluesman and Hall of Fame harmonica player, Marion “Little Walter” Jacobs, born here in Central Louisiana.
The fifth annual AlexRiverFête, celebrating culture, community, and collaboration will be held May 4th through 6th in Downtown Alexandria. Fête means “an elaborate festival, party, or celebration,” and that’s just what you will find in this three-day festival set along the banks of the iconic Red River. RiverFête brings thousands of people together for great music, food and fun.
The festivities begin with Dinner on the Bricks on Thursday, May 4th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Enjoy dinner and drinks in the outdoors as numerous Central Louisiana restaurants and caterers host Dinner on the Bricks. Admission to the event is free and open to the public. The evening will feature live musical entertainment with delicious food and refreshing drinks available for purchase!
AlexRiverFête also incorporates the spring edition of Art Walk, known as ArtFête. The primary goal of the ArtFête 2017 is to unite Central Louisiana’s vibrant arts community through a family-oriented, self-guided walking tour of over 100 participating artists, vendors, and live entertainment acts in Downtown Alexandria’s Cultural Arts District. Sidewalks, green spaces, and the alleys come alive as local artists demonstrate and sell their works of art. ArtFête festivities begin Friday, May 5th from 4:00pm to 9:00pm, and continue all day Saturday, May 6th from 9:00am to 4:00pm. ArtFête is free and open to the public. Vendor spaces are still available. Vendors receive one large rectangular table and two chairs. Each booth space is 10 feet by 10 feet. Tents are allowed but not provided. Additional tables and chairs may be used as long as they stay within the 10 x 10 booth area. Non-profits must not be affiliated with any for-profit, religious, or political group. If you have other questions, please contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AlexRiverFête also welcomes the 7th Annual Louisiana Dragon Boat Races’ return to Red River. Last year, for safety reasons related to the high water and swift currents of the Red River, the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races took place on Lake Buhlow. This is the 7th year of the Louisiana Dragon Boat Races, and they will once again be back in the footprint of AlexRiverFête, for an even bigger party on the Red. Dragon Boat Racing started in China over 2,500 years ago and has long been their National Sport. In North America, it has grown from relative obscurity 25 years ago, to over 1,000 annual events with over 1,000,000 participants. The Alexandria Museum of Art, as an art anchor in Downtown Alexandria committed to the cultural community and quality of life of Central Louisiana, will continue its participation in AlexRiverFête with other activities, in addition to Race Day festivities. This exciting family event makes for a great day of good, spirited racing, and a great time on and off the water! Dragon Boat teams consist of 20 paddlers (a minimum of eight (8) must be female) and one drummer. The helmsman will be provided. There will be a practice session for each team during the week preceding the event. If you are a company or organization who wants to participate in the fun, but not on the water, you can register as a Tailgating Team, and secure a private spot in the team tent area for your associates to be close to the action, then register as a “Tailgating-at-a-Tent-Site Team” by selecting the “Tailgaiting Ticket” option, and complete the registration and payment forms at checkout.
This year’s line-up of live entertainment promises to be excellent yet again. Robert Randolph and The Family Band’s improvisational skills have made them mega-popular among the jam-band crowd. The jam band scene has that name but it’s really a true music art form scene where you can just be who you are,” Randolph says. “We fit in that category in some sense but the jam band scene itself has changed a lot since that time. I’ve grown to like songs and I like to jam within the song.” A renowned pedal steel guitarist, Randolph blends his childhood and adolescence growing up surrounded by church music with the rock, funk, soul, jazz and the jam influences of his young adulthood.
From the days of playing greasy local juke joints to headlining major festivals, JJ Grey remains an unfettered, blissful performer, singing with a blue-collared spirit over the bone-deep grooves of his compositions. His presence before an audience is something startling and immediate, at times a funk rave-up, other times a sort of mass-absolution for the mortal weaknesses that make him and his audience human. When you see JJ Grey and his band Mofro live, the man is fearless. Onstage, Grey delivers his songs with compassion and a relentless honesty.
For nearly two decades, Eric Krasno has been an omnipresent figure in popular music. The multiple Grammy award-winner has displayed his virtuosic, innovative guitar playing with Soulive and Lettuce (both of which he co-founded), and onstage supporting the likes of the Rolling Stones and The Roots. In addition to his skill as a performer, Krasno has worked extensively as a producer and songwriter for everyone from Norah Jones, Tedeschi Trucks, and 50 Cent to Talib Kweli, Aaron Neville, and Allen Stone.
The Main Squeeze, with deep musical roots sprouted in the Midwest, have scored their lives at each twist and curve. While starting out as a party band at Indiana University, their forthcoming April 28th release “Without a Sound” illustrates their increasing musical maturity and creativity inspired by their new home in Los Angeles. The Main Squeeze is a blend of soul and hip-hop, funk with rock. They know their sound is “soulful, powerful, and unique” (Newman). Rolling Stone agrees in their recent critique of a live show: “Lead singer Corey Frye’s powerfully soulful vocals forms the foundation of an energetic set.” The Main Squeeze appeals to your head, heart and body.
With so much to see and do, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the Fête. So make time to enjoy the party! As always, AlexRiverFête, promises to be an unforgettable experience. Learn more about the festival and lineup at www.cityofalexandriala.com/fete.
The fifth annual Little Walter Music Festival brings two days of music, food, children’s activities, and more to downtown Alexandria. The festival, celebrating Central Louisiana’s only Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, will be held at the downtown amphitheater Friday, May 26th and Saturday, May 27th. Staying true to the purpose of the Little Walter Music Festival, the entire weekend will include a variety of musical genres from Delta Blues, Texas Hill Country Blues, Jazz, Boogie, Funk, Swamp Music, Southern Soul, Blues Rock, Zydeco, and all around feel good music! This is a weekend you don’t want to miss.
“Entering into our 5th year, we are excited to be adding more elements and enhancing the festival experience to continue to celebrate Little Walter’s musical legacy,” said Sherry Ellington, Executive Director of the Alexandria/Pineville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, who markets the Little Walter Music Festival.
On Friday, May 26th, the music will kick off at 5:30pm with the sounds of Central Louisiana’s very own Cenla Brass Band parading through the Amphitheater to get attendees on their feet and ready for a jam-packed fantastic festival experience! Performances by Peas & Cornbread, Nikki Hill and Mr. Sipp will continue into the night.
Saturday, May 27th, will kick off with a harmonica workshop hosted by the Alexandria Museum of Art with Smoky Greenwell. Greenwell has written and produced a popular harmonica course which remains in demand at music stores from New Orleans to Nashville. He will be teaching the free Harmonica Workshop on Saturday, May 26th at 10:00am. Registration for the free workshop is encouraged by visiting LittleWalterMusicFestival.com.
Saturday’s lineup includes local, regional and national performers including 92Twenty, Chubby Carrier, Smoky Greenwell, Josh Hyde with John Papa Gros, Lil’ Nate, James Boogaloo Bolden Blues Band with Grammy-nominees Billy Branch and Kenny Neal. Closing the night will be 2016 NBC’s “The Voice” winner Sundance Head!
Admission, for both days, is free at the Alexandria Amphitheater. This year, the festival is offering a brand new VIP Experience for attendees. VIP tickets are $50.00 per day or $75.00 for the entire weekend. Food and drink vendors will be on-site Friday and Saturday, as well as arts and crafts vendors on site Saturday. Kids’ activities will be offered at the Amphitheater on Saturday.
Also taking place on Saturday, May 27th, will be the Little Walter Harmonica Hustle 4-Mile Challenge between Alexandria and Pineville. The collection of performers from Friday to Saturday is sure to leave you wanting more, ensuring that this is one festival you will never want to miss! Find a complete schedule of events and festival lineup at LittleWalterMusicFestival.com or at Facebook.com/LittleWalterMusicFestival. You may also call (800) 551-9546 for details.