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Defender Picks



May 30th

Down on Their Luck Orchestra

Music at the Mint, 2PM

Jazz at the Old U.S. Mint


Craft Happy Hour

Ogden, 6PM

Learn to make paper magnolias with Suzonne Stirling


Vibrational Sound Therapy

Glitter Box, 6PM

Discover the energetic magic of Himalayan Singing Bowls with Faun Fenderson


Monty Banks

Mahogany Jazz Hall, 6PM

Trad Jazz, rat pack era swing and more



Peristyle in City Park, 6:30PM

High Intensity Interval Training



Champions Square, 7PM

Feat. O.A.R. and Natasha Bedingfield


Gender 101

LGBT Community Center, 7PM

Expand your understanding of gender


Thinkin' with Lincoln

Bayou Beer Garden, 7PM

Trivia on the patio


Spring Wrap-Up Show

Arts Estuary 1024, 8PM

Performances and screenings by the artist residents


High Profile

Hi-Ho Lounge, 10PM

NOLA drag stars host a variety talent show, The Stage


May 31st

Abe Thompson

Market Café, 3:30PM

Feat. The Doctors of Funk


Food Waste Collection

Children’s Resource Center, 5PM

Bring your frozen food scraps to be composted


Weird Wine Wednesdays

Spirit Wine, 6PM

Free wine tasting


Free Spirited Yoga

The Tchoup Yard, 6:30PM

Food, drinks, yoga


CeCe Winans

Orpheum Theater, 7PM

Part of the “Let Them Fall In Love” tour


Dance for Bathrooms

Three Keys, 8PM

Benefitting Music Box Village


Rooftop Cinema

Catahoula Hotel, 8PM

A showing of But I’m A Cheerleader


Major Bacon

Banks St. Bar, 10PM

Sizzlin blues and free BLTs


Caleb Ryan Martin

Check Point Charlie, 11PM

Acoustic blues and roots


June 1st

Jazz in The Park

Armstrong Park, 4PM

Jon Clearly + the Absolute Monster Gentlemen


Book Signing

Garden District Book Shop, 6PM

Signing of My Love Looks Back by Jessica B. Harris


Mardi Gras Concert

Tipitina’s, 6PM

Benefitting Marty Hurley Endowment Center


Summer Of Sustainability

Aquarium Of The Americas, 630PM

Enjoy oysters in a unique setting


Magical Burlesque

The Willow, 7PM

Harry Potter themed burlesque show


Bonnie Bishop

One Eyed Jack’s, 9PM

Sweet country rock



14 Parishes, 9PM

Roasts, toasts and laughs


Una Walkonhorst

The Circle Bar, 930PM

Also feat. Patrick Sylvester


Lost Stars

Balcony Music Club, 11PM

Support by Mighty Brother 



June 2nd

Symphony Book Fair

Lakefront Arena, 9AM

Benefitting the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra


Summer Kick Off Film Party

Second Line Stages, 5PM

Supporting BREASTS the film


Nateus Photography Opening

Cherry Espresso Bar, 6PM

Photos as a medium of self expression, snacks included


Dinner and a ZOOvie

Audubon Zoo, 6PM

Showing of the movie Moana


Self Absorbed


A peek inside fifteen artists


Lagniappe Performance Series

Loyola Univeristy @ Marquette Hall, 7PM

Performance by Mikhala W. Iversen


As One

Marigny Opera House, 8PM

A transgender musical odyssey


Joel Wilson

The Building, 9PM

Also featuring Simon Lott as Context Killer



Blue Nile, 11PM

GoGo Brass Funk band 



June 3rd

Grand Opening Party

Parleaux Beer Lab, 11AM

Pouring on all 12 taps


Water Words

New Orleans Public Library, 11AM

Exploring the special role of water in our city and in life


Basics of Beekeeping

Hollygrove Market, 1PM

Learn how to start your own apiary


First Saturday Gallery Openings

Arts District, 6PM

Check out new and returning exhibitions


Harrison Avenue Stroll

Harrison Avenue, 5PM

Food, drinks, fun


Louisiana Wetlands

Carol Robinson Gallery, 5PM

Original art by Dave Ivey


Moonlit Paddle

Manchec Swamp, 545PM

Enjoy an evening of paddling close to home


Final Gala Concert

Jazz and Heritage Center, 8PM

Closing out the Birdfoot Festival


Canine Karaoke

Homedale Inn Bar, 9PM

Supporting the Love A Pit Foundation



Poor Boys Bar, 12AM

Resident DJs, along with special guest


June 4th

June Puppy Social

Louisiana SPCA, 10AM

Toys, treats, low impact agility


Jazz Brunch

Josephine Estelle, 11AM

Live sounds served sunny side up



The Drifter Hotel, 12PM

Presented by Techno Club


Book Discussion

Garden District Book Shop, 12PM

C.D. Colins discusses her memoir


Summer Reading Kick Off

NOPL Youth Services, 1PM

Feat. Roots music and books by Johnette Downing


Saving Abel

Southport Music Hall, 6PM

With support by Akadia and First Fracture


Open Mic and Slam

Ashé Cac, 7PM

Team SNO + Jahman Hill


Edge Film Festival

Zeitgeist Center, 730PM

Short film screenings + awards


Frontier Ruckus

Gasa Gasa, 9PM

Enjoy some multi genre rock

Fest Vet

George Ray's 32 Years Behind the Scenes

Last Saturday, thousands danced in the streets to the sounds zydeco music, but amidst the joyful chaos, George Ray sat quietly content. Dark eyes peered up from under a bright orange hat, monogrammed "French Quarter Fest" in bold black letters. The wizened man kindly smiled, offering his hand in greeting, "Pleased to meet you." The familiar grip of a working man's calloused hand tightened around my own in a firm shake.


A cast of hundreds of unassuming workers dedicate their time and energy to bringing the French Quarter Festival to life. Though all of their dedication is commendable, George is a little different. He is the most tenured part of the fest, working for the institution since Year One.


You can see his life experiences on his face and hear the wisdom in his word. Maybe one can see the fascinating story that all New Orleanians share, a love for their city and its customs, in his face. Or maybe, his importance is simply illustrated by the team of workers running around with credentials that read only “George’s Crew.”


There was no crew when the festival started in 1984. Back then, George started running bags of ice and production materials and the stages only covered Jackson Square. George fondly remembers how he originally got the job, "I had been working for Peter Meyer Advertising since 1976, when Sandra Dartus, the original festival director, who I had worked with previously on other events, asked if I would like to try working this new festival they were planning." 


Ray says that the early years were challenging yet rewarding at the same time. He was surrounded by some of the greatest musical talent to come out of the Quarter such as the Dukes of Dixieland and Allen Toussaint. Then, he got to watch the party grow and expand every year. By 1991, FQF was occupying real estate in Woldenberg Park as well.


As time progressed, George continued to adapt to the changing demands, offering his colorful advice from the perspective of the common crewman, "They used to only buy 10 pound bags of ice, but in this Louisiana heat that bag would melt before you could get it to a vendor!" George shakes his head as he remembers the countless dripping bags of icy water, "I told them we needed to start buying the 40 pound bags and they asked 'But George don't you think that's too heavy for you to be carrying?' I told them no, these big bags of ice are going to be a huge relief for us.”


These days, the veteran has golf carts and a squad of helpers to move ice. Fest organizers describe the team's work as “special operations.” George’s Crew can be counted on to fill any holes whether that means moving materials, hanging signs, or picking up the slack on staging or loading trucks.


Adaptability is key to George’s success. He was living in Gentilly on Elysian fields when Katrina hit and flooded his house with ten feet of water. Not to be discouraged, he was back to working the French Quarter Fest the following year despite the record low attendance for the 2006 festival.  


French Quarter Fest and Satchmo Fest both rebounded beyond the highest pre-Storm goals, but George is not about to quit his day job, literally. He is still a loyal Peter Mayer Advertising employee during business hours and works security at both the Mahalia Jackson and Saenger Theatre at night. He simply laughs when I ask him how he finds time to sleep. 


During the Show, days working the festival start before seven in the morning when he first arrives at the site and begins delegating the day's work to his crews. In the evenings, he is the last man of his group to leave.   


This April, George played a different role this time. He continued supervising the crew, but found himself separated from his guys. Logistics dictated that the best place to station himself was outside of the primary staging area on Decatur. From his perch, he could direct the chaos and provide security for a space holding festival's materials. 

The loyalty and respect that others reserve for him is evident as countless workers enter and exit the doors beside us. All of them offer up a greeting to him and he returns an approving nod and an encouraging word.  "I get here before my crews show up because I want to be able to know ahead of time who needs to go where, and I can be there to make sure everything that needs to get done happens."  There is a severity in his tone as he recounts his mornings before the festival.


But not to be left twiddling his thumbs between callers, he greets people as they pass and offers them an official schedule, "I think I've handed out more of these than ya'll have." He mischievously taps the official guides in the cardboard box, clearly labeled with "Developed in Partnership with NOLA Defender"  


For someone to outperform themselves for 32 years there must be a secret. But, when asked how he manages to do such a good job for so many years, he merely shrugs and replies with characteristic humility. "People always say 'Oh George you do such a good job!' or 'Another great year George!' but it's my crew, they make me look good!" 

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Dead Huey, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Alexis Manrodt

Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

B. E. Mintz

Editor Emeritus

Stephen Babcock

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