No matter how you turn a phrase, it's the music of Festival International de Louisiane that brings the people to downtown Lafayette every spring. And they'll be here again, April 25-29, possibly in larger numbers than before because of the about.com poll where Festival was recently voted the Best World Music Festival.
Going from one Festival stage to another is like walking from one country to another. At any given moment over the course of Festival, you may find yourself in Niger, France, Ethiopia, or anywhere in the U.S.
If you close your eyes - only after you make your way to one of the five stages with - you can find yourself in Mali, New Brunswick, Cuba, Chile, Reunion Island, Quebec, Nigeria, Senegal, Chile, Balkans, the Middle East, Ireland, Prince Edward Island, the Ukraine, and even South Louisiana, a.k.a. the best foreign country in the U.S.As a bonus, when you get home you'll have expanded your musical horizons across international time zones and not suffer from jet lag.
But no matter who you like or like even better - surely the music has enough breadth and depth to please all - remember, there's no dislike going at Festival whose (unofficial) motto is "Peace. Love. Festival."But if you are a non-liker of anything new, old, international or just plain different in music or otherwise, you can always stay home with your whine and listen to your own cheese.At Festival, it's not a matter of who's good because all the bands are good or they wouldn't be here. It's more of a matter of personal taste, opportunity and happenstance.
So here's an inside look from Festival's Marketing Coordinator Apiyo Obala at some of the bands you might not want to miss.
Gary Clark Jr., closes out Friday night on Scene Popeye's International.
"He is considered, rock, soul guitar - he's almost like a combination, as far as his guitar playing, of Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz meets Eric Clapton," Obala says of the American musician. "He's the next rising star in music."There's always at least one artist that we have that we get them early on and then not too long after they play here, they blow up," she says. "Gary Clark Jr. fills that role for Festival this year as a performance that I recommend everybody to see."There's also Nigeria's Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 to pencil in with a permanent marker and highlighted in gold. Seun Kuti closes out Saturday night on Scene Popeye's International."He's the youngest son of Fela Kuti,' says Obala."As far as like the style of music he plays, his style is probably the closest to his father's, but he still has his very own specific style. So he's a huge performer."
Scene Popeye's International hosts Rusted Root as the Festival closer Sunday. The Pennsylvania band, which brings to mind the Talking Heads with its pervasive percussion and World Beat feel, formed in 1990.
"They have a new album that's coming out and so they're going to be touring again," says Obala. "We're really excited to have them this year for Festival."
In fact, the aforementioned bands are just the tip of the iceberg (a non-intentional nod to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic) of what's coming to Festival.
"We also have a lot of really great performances on other stages," says Obala.
And that would include the Texas Tornados with Flaco Jimenez, Augie Meyers & Shawn Sahm, Teada, Cannailles, Vagabond Swing.
"It's pretty cool. We have a good variety," says Obala. "Of course we have a lot of really Cajun and zydeco. It's just a good combination of things."