NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jazz guitarist Raphael Bas says French Quarter Festival is as close as it gets in the U.S. to the music festival he grew up attending with his family in Bourges, France.
Bas recalls hearing American jazz singer Nina Simone, trumpeter Miles Davis and singer-pianist Jerry Lee Lewis perform with French musicians during the days-long Le Printemps de Bourges, the festival that loosely translated means Springtime of Bourges.
"Growing up in Bourges, I was exposed for over a week every year to a great array and styles of great music, shows and artists, which contributed without a doubt to my love for music and the career path I have taken," said Bas, who made New Orleans his home in 2005, a few months before Hurricane Katrina struck.
Bas stayed to be a part of the city's rebuilding. He said he found comfort in the four-day French Quarter Festival, which reminded him of his hometown festival.
French Quarter Festival, which turns 30 this year, runs through Sunday and showcases Louisiana food and music on stages strung throughout the historic neighborhood, including Jackson Square, the French Market, along narrow streets and on the Mississippi riverfront. The lineup includes Irma Thomas, trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, Cajun fiddler Amanda Shaw, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and about 250 other acts.
"I look forward to it every year," said Bas, who performs on Saturday with his band, Harmonouche. "Personally, it's one of my favorite festivals, just the feel of it, the little streets, the people, the proximity to the dancers. It's very intimate."
Others performing are New Orleans cabaret and jazz singer Anais St. John, blues guitarist Little Freddie King, singer Charmaine Neville and the Washboard Chaz blues trio.