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Our top picks of the month’s events

French Quarter Festival, April 7-10

Cheryl Gerber

Rock and Dance
The New Orleans Ballet Association continues its season with an exhilarating performance at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on April 16. Remember Me is a brilliant collaboration between Parsons Dance and the East Village Opera Company performing a tale of star-crossed love. With a stunning soundtrack, costumes by Austin Scarlett of “Project Runway” fame, lighting by Tony Award-winning designer Howell Binkley, state-of-the-art digital projections and the immaculately trained Parsons dancers, this is one combustible performance. David Parsons has been hailed as a trailblazer when it comes to modern dance – his repertoire is impressive, as he has created more than 70 works; this one showcases the power of joint creative forces. Information, www.nobadance.com.

Jazz and More
This month is a non-stop citywide party as we celebrate art, music, culture, food and people. One of the ultimate celebrations is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, taking place at the New Orleans Fair Grounds. It is hard to imagine that the fest, April 28-May 1 and May 6-8, began as a small “backyard barbecue” type of gathering, but its roots have been firmly planted as one of the premier New Orleans festivals.

Musicians of many genres will be present: Headliners this year include Jimmy Buffett, Willie Nelson, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Tom Jones, Arcade Fire, John Legend, Dr. John and hundreds more. One of the greatest things about Jazz Fest is that it’s equally appealing to all ages – baby boomers and babies can be seen side-by-side. Dozens of artists’ tents, food booths, a Kids Tent and several music stages keep generations of people from near and far coming back each year in another monumental celebration. Information, www.nojazzfest.com.

Fêting the French Quarter
French Quarter Festival, the yearly event that draws thousands of visitors to the Vieux Carré, takes place April 7-10. Now celebrating its 28th anniversary, the fête, which in recent years has become one of the city’s biggest festivals, has added on an extra day this year due to its increasing popularity. Local favorites, including Los Hombres Calientes, Benny Grunch and the Bunch, The Preservation Hall-Stars and Kipori Woods will open the fest on April 7, which is dubbed “Locals Lagniappe Day.” That day will also be the “world’s largest jazz brunch” on Jackson Square and the Riverfront, featuring dishes from the city’s top restaurants. During the rest of the weekend, 150 performances are scheduled to take place on 17 stages. The festival is free to attend and it showcases multiple genres of music including gospel, jazz, funk, Cajun and Zydeco; it’s suitable for all ages and family-friendly – in fact, the Children’s Headquarters has expanded on the Audubon Riverfront Plaza, with interactive family activities, cooking demonstrations, yoga and karate, plus face-painting and more. Information, www.fqfi.org.

Monster Ball
It would be an understatement to call Lady Gaga a pop star and she’s become much more than a singer/songwriter: She’s a forward-thinking, influential creative phenomenon who turns heads wherever she globe-trots. Known just as much for speaking up about political and social issues – including gay rights – as she is for making avant-garde fashion statements (anyone remember the raw meat dress?), Gaga is a powerhouse of a performer. At just 25 years old, she has sold millions of albums and generated a massive fan base – whom she fondly dubs her “little monsters.” Her world tour, the Monster Ball, stops at the New Orleans Arena on April 9 and those who attend are promised a colorful, electrifying performance with catchy dance songs and soulful ballads alike. Information,
www.ladygaga.com.

Happy Hump Days
Many of us look forward to Fridays and the weekends, but now we’ll have something to look forward to in the middle of the week, too: The YLC Wednesday at the Square concert series, presented by the New Orleans Saints, returns this spring. For 12 weeks, free concerts take place from 5-7:30 p.m. at Lafayette Square Park in the Central Business District. This month check out headliners Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Kermit Ruffins, Anders Osborne, Irvin Mayfield & the Jazz Playhouse Revue, among others. Information, www.wednesdayatthesquare.com.

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