September 30, 2007


"Fleur de lis" image by Leo Reynolds on

I have decided to devote one day a week to strictly NOLA NEWS. I will bring something positive that is going on and list careers opportunities and/or special events! That way, if anyone needs to converse about the goings-on, or comes across a friend who is in need of work and is willing to relocate, they have a place to start!!! HAPPY SUNDAY!!!


Festival brings new beat to the heart of the city
Friday, September 28, 2007By Keith Spera
In colonial times, the cobblestone area just inside the main entrance of Louis Armstrong Park was a Sunday gathering place for enslaved Africans. Now known as Congo Square, it was one of the few places in North America where slaves could perpetuate the traditional dance and percussion of their homeland. The intermingling of these traditions with European brass instruments prefaced the eventual evolution of jazz.

On Sunday, the inaugural Congo Square Rhythms Festival aims to highlight the importance of Congo Square in the culture of New Orleans and the nation. Presented by the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns Jazzfest, the festival is free.

Sunday's festivities kick off with a Mass at 10 a.m. at St. Augustine Church, 1210 Gov. Nicholls St. in Treme. "The Amistad Mass: A Tribute to the Unknown Slave" includes an appearance by the Blind Boys of Alabama, the globe-trotting, Grammy-winning gospel group whose forthcoming album, "Down in New Orleans," is a tribute to the city.

Following the Mass, at around 11:30 a.m., the Treme Brass Band leads a procession from St. Augustine to nearby Armstrong Park.

At Armstrong Park, the music gets under way at noon on the Bamboula Stage with a drum circle, a ceremonial assemblage of multiple percussionists. Drummers with an interest in African-style hand percussion are invited to bring their instruments and join in.

Following the drum circle, percussionist Luther Gray leads his Bamboula 2000 drum and dance ensemble at 1 p.m.

For the reminder of the afternoon, music alternates between the main Bamboula Stage and the smaller Calinda Stage, which hosts a succession of three traditional African dance companies.

The roster on the Bamboula Stage includes jazz saxophonist and Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. with his Congo Nation tribe at 2:30 p.m., followed by trombonist "Big" Sam Williams' brassy Funky Nation at 4 p.m. and finally keyboardist/vocalist Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk at 5:30 p.m.

In addition to the music, the festival includes a food court, African marketplace and a range of children's activities.

Also, the history of Congo Square is the subject of tonight's installment of the Jazz and Heritage Foundation's Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series. Tonight at 7:30 at Basin Street Station, 501 Basin St., panelists Ausettua Amor Amenkum, Freddi Evans, Luther Gray and Kalamu Ya Salaam will discuss the historic and cultural legacy of Congo Square. The presentation includes a screening of Royce Osborne's film "Congo Square." Admission is free.

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The "Congo Square Rhythms" exhibit at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Gallery at 1201 N. Rampart St., features artwork reflecting the influence Congo Square has had on New Orleans culture. A reception will be held Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. The exhibit is up through Nov. 2, Mondays to Fridays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on the Congo Square Rhythms Festival and the Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series, go to or call (504) 558-6100.


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