Blues, With a Side of Barbeque at Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival

Crescent City Blues BBQ Festival
Photo courtesy of New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation on Facebook

Presented by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival always sports an eclectic lineup, consistently booking a mix of young talent alongside seasoned blues veterans. And that’s before you even consider the wide variety of BBQ vendors that surround Lafayette Square throughout the weekend. The central location of the event makes it an easy walk from the CBD or French Quarter, and while we’re certain you’ll fill up on barbeque at the festival, you’ll also be within easy strolling distance of some of New Orleans best restaurants and bars.

This year, the over-decade-old festival takes place from Friday, October 12 through Sunday, October 14. This popular event began after Hurricane Katrina, and was designed to create jobs and draw tourism back into the city. Over the past decade, the three-day blowout has garnered a reputation as one of the best free festivals not just in New Orleans, but in the country.

Just like in the past years, there will be two stages of music and a huge arts market. Headliners this year include award-winning Louisiana blues artist Walter “Wolfman” Washington, guitar legend Jimmie Vaughan, world-famous blues belter Shemekia Copeland, Memphis R&B icon Don Bryant, the beloved Little Freddie King, Shereveport’s native Papa Mali, and more. But there’s plenty of music beyond those mainstage legends. You’ll also be able to discover a slew of lesser known artists that add to the intimacy of the event, including a fast-rising star Samantha Fish and singer Keeshea Pratt.

As always, the event will include copious amounts of barbecue, with some of the best barbecue vendors in the region. Past vendors have included McClure’sBlue Oak BBQThe Joint, and many, many others. The spread will honor several regional styles, with emphasis on Louisiana — made easier than ever with the recent proliferation of BBQ restaurants on the New Orleans dining scene. Beyond BBQ, there will be, of course, options for vegetarians, plus vegan and gluten-free fare.

WWOZ will broadcast most of the festival live both on the airwaves and through a stream on their website. But that’s no excuse for missing this event!

The event is free, but VIP Experience Passes are still available to those looking for a premium festival experience, which include a balcony view of Lafayette Square, seating, and air conditioning. Those are good for the entire weekend and available here.

This year’s official poster once again honors one of New Orleans’ favorite artists, Walter “Wolfman” Washington. Since he has already graced the festival’s official poster in 2015, the festival organizers are issuing a limited-edition special reprint of the 2015 poster instead of creating a new one. You can get your copy at the fest or online.

Please note that due to the past years’ crowding around the stages the festival organizers instituted a “no chairs” perimeter of 75 feet from both stages. You’re still welcome to bring chairs and set up camp away from the stages, of course.

To get to the fest, you can hop on the St. Charles Ave. streetcar line, or take the #11 Magazine St. bus. Another option is to bike over (there’s even free valet bicycle parking). Finding street parking in the area might be tough but there are many paid parking lots in the area, the closest one being the lot in the Poydras Center (650 Poydras St.).

Get the updates and the inside scoop on the festival and the performers on the festival’s website and Facebook page.