The French Quarter hosts some of the nations best entertainers
New Orleans’ World-Famous French Quarter provides some of the most entertaining events you will find anywhere. From live music (its everywhere in the Quarter) to theater, festivals, concerts the list goes on and on.
Keep up with them all at your desk or on-the-go. Does our list of entertainers have your favorite? If not, let us know and we’ll do something about it!
Your Favorite Entertainment
The French Quarters’ Hottest Entertainers!
Bruce was born in New Orleans on July 11, 1958. His parents were part of a post-World War II migration of Cajuns to New Orleans from the rural farming communities of Avoyelles Parish. Located in the uppermost corner of Louisiana’s “Cajun triangle,” Avoyelles Parish is the forgotten part of Cajun country. Nevertheless, the language and customs of the Cajun people are as deeply rooted here as anywhere in the state. And whenever you walk through the door of Bruce’s family home, you return to Avoyelles Parish. His parents have never abandoned their beautiful Cajun French, and they’ve kept their gumbo and fricassee simmering on the stove.
The same, instinctive pride of culture and heritage that has guided his parents’ lives, and his grandparents’ lives, is now invested in Bruce’s music. Music came to Bruce at an early age, and in the most traditional manner–handed down from father to son. When he was growing up, no family gathering was complete without a little playing and singing. His father picked the guitar, “Carter Family-style,” while his Uncle Alton lent a remarkable voice to the traditional Cajun songs and old-time country ballads. When Bruce turned five, his father presented him with a guitar, and by the age of ten he was also bearing down on a five-string banjo. It was in 1978, after attending the annual Festival Acadiens in Lafayette, that Bruce was inspired to devote himself to the French accordion. By 1980 he had his own Cajun band, and was honing his skills at regular Thursday-night fais do do dances at the Maple Leaf Bar. Over the next six years, Bruce Daigrepont almost single-handedly popularized Cajun music and Cajun dancing in cosmopolitan New Orleans.
Bruce is fully immersed in the singer-songwriter tradition. Several of Bruce’s compositions such as “Marksville Two Step,” “Riviere Rouge” and “Nonc Willie” have entered into the standard Cajun dance band repertoire while other tunes of his such as “Coeur des Cajuns “, “Disco et Fais Do Do” and “Laissez Faire” are now part of the recorded repertoires of Francophile bands from other parts of the world. His most popular anthem of Cajun pride, “Acadia a la Louisiane, ” has even been translated into Danish! If he were writing in English, he might find greater fame and fortune. But Bruce is about pride of culture and heritage; pride in being what he is, a Cajun from the heart, with a story to tell, through his music. Not that you need to understand French to get on Bruce’s wavelength. His art is totally infectious. For one thing, he’s one of Cajun music’s most gifted singers. In keeping with the old-time dance hall musicians, he sings loud and passionately, in the high tenor register, where many Cajun singers of today fear to tread. He can shift his powerful voice from bell-tone clear to whiskey-rough.
Bruce’s recording career began in 1986 with his first Rounder Records release, “Stir Up the Roux,” followed by “Coeur des Cajuns” in 1989, “Petit Cadeau” in 1994 and “Paradis” in 1999. Each of these projects has garnered critical acclaim. What makes Bruce’s recordings so special is his unwavering attention to detail, his inventiveness, and the sense of mastery he brings to every song. His latest release “Paradis” comes closer than any of Bruce’s previous recordings to the sound of his live performances. And what makes his live performances so special is the air of freewheeling spontaneity which prevails over everything that happens. Bruce never uses a “set list.” Instead, he maintains a floating repertoire of more than two hundred songs, from the traditional Cajun waltzes and two-steps to those of his own creation, to ancient fiddle reels, deep blues, swamp pop, Zydeco and R&B. On stage, he is free to shuffle these songs around at will. Or, as Bruce so aptly puts it, “I just play whatever song starts to come out of my fingers,” while the band hangs on for dear life. Consequently, no two Bruce Daigrepont concerts are ever the same. It’s and exhilarating experience!
Chip Wilson is a roots music singer/songwriter from New Orleans. Described as a “guitar virtuoso” by Stephen Kiernan, a Burlington Free Press editorial writer,, Chip has played in the US, South America and Europe, performing a mix of classic and original American music: jazz, blues, folk, country, R & B and funk. Born near New York City, Chip has lived in the Crescent City since 1994. His initial performing experience was in a church choir, and decades later, he plays in church every week when he is home in New Orleans. His first nightclub engagement was with duo partner Dan Harrison, now a New England-based record producer. “We got paid $5 and all the beer we could drink,” Wilson says. Initially learning blues and folk guitar techniques from records, Chip later studied jazz guitar with Paul Asbell and Jerry Lavene. Gigs with duo partner Brian Camelio, now president of Artistshare, and his band The Style A’s helped nurture continued musical growth. Chip lived in New England until his love for New Orleans and the iconic music of the city and the American South drew him to the Crescent City.
Wilson has performed or recorded with Grammy Winners Charles Neville, Leroy Preston and Michael Ray, as well as with New Orleans R & B legends George Porter, Tommy Ridgely, Oliver Morgan, Erving Charles, Jr, Eddie Bo and Ernie K-Doe. Offbeat Award Winner and W. C. Handy Award nominee Mem Shannon is featured on two of Chip’s CDs. Other musical partners include Tony Markellis (Trey Anastasio Band, Paul Butterfield, Kilimanjaro), Sean Harkness (Windham Hill, Jimmy Norman from The Drifters), Broadway theatre orchestras), and Jeff Haynes (Pat Metheny, Cassandra Wilson, Lizz Wright, Martin Scorsese’s The Blues).
Chip has played at the Winter and Summer Umbria Jazz Festivals, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Discover Jazz Festival, The French Quarter Festival, the Portsmouth Blues Festival, the Champlain Valley Festival and more. He has worked at most of the top New Orleans venues including Tipitina’s, Snug Harbor, The Ritz-Carlton, The Columns Hotel, The Kerry Irish Pub, The House Of Blues, the Maple Leaf, and Le Bon Temps Roule.
Honey Island Swamp Band
Guitarist, Singer, Radio DJ and music journalist Marc Stone has been performing professionally for over fifteen years. He has traveled around the globe, playing in nearly twenty countries on four continents. He can be heard playing red-hot Delta Blues solo concerts on his steel resonator guitar, leading the smoking four piece Marc Stone Band on electric guitar and lap steel, or backing great Roots Music artists at Jazz Fest slots and Mardi Gras balls, on the road and in the studio.
Marc has just dropped his new 11-song studio release on internationally acclaimed Threadhead Records to rave reviews and lots of radio play. Led by Marc’s guitar and vocals, Trickeration and Rascality delivers original horn-driven blues, gritty funk-rock, and soulful acoustic tunes that pull from his extensive musical background and an exciting array of influences. Marc called on his favorite players to back him with veteran producer Vasti Jackson at the board. Terrance Simien, Big Al Carson, Rockin’ Dopsie Jr., Kirk Joseph, Joe Krown, the Bonerama Horns, and a host of brilliant musicians all bring their wizardry to the tracks. The album hit the streets just in time for Marc’s appearances at the 2010 French Quarter Festival and his debut as an artist at the 2010 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where Marc’s band lit up the festival’s largest stage on a bill with the Allman Brothers Band.
Since he first ventured down that long, narrow, dark hallway at age 12 to meet his mentor and teacher Hank Mackie, Penton’s musical style has grown and evolved to make him a true master of his art.
His self-described style is blues, funk and stuff. Throw some rock, gospel and soul into the mix and that only begins to touch the ‘stuff’ he is made of. As time passes and he transcends the spectrum of music he has mastered, his earthy soulful voice blends perfectly with his musical style to take his audiences to uncharted territory. Destination unknown but always worth the trip!
Penton’s musical experience is diverse. He has played with Tom Jones, Eddie Kendricks, Chuck Brown and Phil Flowers. His musical talent has taken him near and far. He has played and toured with the Brother Martin Stage Band, toured Europe with Jimmy Thibodaux and performed in S. Korea in USO shows in the seventies. In the eighties and nineties he was a member of the Janitors in Virginia Beach, and Crosscut Bluegrass band in the Adirondacks. He also played with Mary Ann Redmond in DC and has shared the stage with Atlanta Rhythm Section, Marshall Tucker and Chubbie Checker. Locally and more recently he has played with The Dream Band, Big Chief Alfred Doucette, Smokey Greenwell, Andre Bouvier and Big Al Carson to name a few.
Mark has weathered many a storm and calls New Orleans home once again. He has been back home since 2001 and currently performs at clubs on Frenchman Street and Bourbon Street. He is well known with his bands the Pentones and Plan B and is considered to be one of the best solo acoustic acts on Bourbon. In his own words and taken from one of his original songs, he has earned the right to play the blues (and then some). This man can rock with the best of them. Not to be missed!
When Willie Nelson established the need for a trumpeter to complete the lineup for the recent Willie and the Wheel tour, he wisely turned to the birthplace of jazz and sought out one of the city’s finest musicians.
Hailed by star drummer Bob French as “the new coming of his era,” Allen recently snapped up a 2008 Big Easy Award for best emerging artist and plans to exceed the expectation with a his latest release which promises a musical arrangement that breaks the mold of conventional brass.
Allen’s freshman CD “Meet me On Frenchman Street” took a modern approach to traditional Jazz and produced an instant classic with the title track. But Allen didn’t stop there.
His rock/funk/hip-hop band, Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs released their debut CD in April of 2009, aptly entitled, “Box Who In?.” A bold statement against being categorized under any one genre, the widely anticipated release delivers a radical departure from Frenchman Street and takes listeners back to where Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis left off.
“Meet me On Frenchman Street” was an homage to the storied past of New Orleans; “Box Who In?” is a vision of its future. The tracks are representative of what’s here and now, with an insight into the man behind the horn. “The title of the CD is how I feel,” says Allen and “I will not be put into the box of a particular style of music. Maybe one day I will want to do a country record and I don’t want to feel limited in any situation.”
And limited he is not. Allen is regularly featured on tour with nouveau funk band Galactic and occasionally joins singer-songwriter Paul Sanchez’s Rolling Road Show. He participated in a month-long tour as a member of a 12- piece backing band with Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel, followed by a recent recording session with the country icon in Austin, Texas.
Shamarr Allen is certainly making his mark, transcending his local celebrity and spreading his star power throughout the U.S. and abroad. Once hailed as New Orleans’ latest trumpet flash, Allen is now regarded as “one of the brightest diamonds to emerge from the Crescent City in recent years.”