At last, fellow fidgety folk, the time has finally come. Warmer than Christmas, freer than JazzFest and with far more purpose than Mardi Gras, the five-day Festival International de Louisiane celebration has arrived in time for brilliant days and nippy nights to quell those people squirming for heavy doses of auditory pleasure and Vitamin D.
This year marks the fete’s silver anniversary—meaning it’s been 25 years since the first crop of sweaty Festival patrons mingled merrily in July heat—and downtown Lafayette will again see another fine assemblage of musicians hailing from across le monde. And just like your Festival stays conveniently local and free, it has also given you a free app touting tidy roundups of each performer with links to videos and songs, even offering a customizable schedule—which is why our love for Festival grows more each year. Listed below are a few recommendations as discovered through the app and delivered from this end of the spectrum.
Remesha Master Drummers. This traditional percussion collective hails from Burundi, Africa, where drummers of this kind are ceremonial performers for births, harvests, funerals and coronations of the “mwami” (kings). They deliver the heavy, tribal sounds of their homeland using drums made from hollowed trees with animal-skin heads that represent the mwami, fertility and regeneration. See them: Thursday, 8 p.m., Scène Popeyes; Saturday, 1 p.m., Scène TV5MONDE.
Boukman Eksperyans. “Mizik rasin”—the Haitian creole term for “roots music”—describes Boukman’s Grammy-nominated sound that ushered in a musical movement in the Francophone country with the band’s 1987 debut album. By combining traditional voodoo and ceremonial folkloric music with elements of rock and reggae, their unique music is revered across the world, as the band plays to crowds of more than 10,000 at home and boasts fans on nearly every continent, also playing alongside big names like Wyclef Jean. Don’t miss the Port-au-Prince natives’ return to Lafayette after their 1990 Festival performance: Friday, 7:30 p.m., Scène Malibu.
Red Baraat. They’ve got boisterous brass melodies, funky percussion rhythms, a double-sided, barrel-shaped drum called a “dhol” and enough infectious, North Indian energy to garner themselves both Friday and Saturday night spots during the Festival weekend—which means there’s no excuse to miss this New York-based, world-inspired troupe. And you won’t want to. Trust me. Round up your people to see ‘em: Friday, 9:45 p.m., Scène Popeyes; Saturday, 8 p.m., Scène TV5MONDE.
Balkan Beat Box. Another New York-based band with members originally from Israel, Balkan Beat Box’s “Nu Med” (for New Mediterranean) music blends everything from its original punk, hip hop and Jamaican dub influences to include Balkan, Bulgarian, Arab, Spanish and Greek sounds. Their aim to revive traditional rhythms transcends modern stylistic boundaries and will make for another energetic performance—their second Festival appearance since 2007—to close out Saturday night’s lineup. Don’t miss it: 10 p.m., Scène Popeyes,
So immerse yourself in the festivities by taking as much in as you can, and listen to it live through KRVS 88.7 when you can’t. And always remember to keep a reasonable distance when photographing police officers.