Circling In on Wednesday at the Square

Springtime in New Orleans has its own rhythm, and it starts with the emails and phone calls you’re probably getting right about now from out-of-town friends. They’re planning ahead for the big music festivals in April, and they want to know if that spare bedroom/futon/blighted shotgun next door is still available like last time.

Our friends abroad are always welcome, as are any visitors interested in experiencing our city and spreading some travel money around. But it’s still nice to savor that early spring sensation when New Orleans feels like it belongs a little more to the locals. One time when that feeling is especially strong is during the Wednesday at the Square concert series in Lafayette Square, which continues tonight.

Admission is free, and the public supports the event in that easy manner we all know so well – simply buying drinks and food from vendors at the site. Over the years, this event (and its autumn-time body double, the Harvest the Music concert series) has become immensely popular, and it’s no mystery why.

The weather is in that between-seasons sweet spot, the live oaks in the square are flush with new emerald growth and the good feeling in the air just makes the Abita taste colder and the sausage taste spicier. Each Wednesday of the 12-week run of the series, Lafayette Square feels like one giant, outdoor happy hour during the event.

Circling In on Wednesday at the Square
Image Courtesy of Kim Welch

The Wednesday at the Square line-up this year features popular local acts, as usual, plus a number of touring performers joining the roster. Tonight, for example, it’s the San Francisco-based jam band Tea Leaf Green, along with local roots rocker-singer/songwriter Colin Lake.

Looking ahead, there’s Big Sam’s Funky Nation on March 28 and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band on April 4. Marcia Ball holds down her traditional spot on the Wednesday between Jazz Fest weekends (May 2) and on May 9 the headliner is another visiting act, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.

Just as the annual concert series now seems like part of the springtime rhythm, these Wednesday evenings have their own flow too. The event is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., starting perhaps a little too early for most of us to catch the opening minutes after work but ending with plenty of time left on the clock for going out after, even on a mid-week school night. And lots of people do go out, whether it’s for dinner or just more drinks with the group of friends you’ve run into.

CBD hot spots like Capdeville, Loa and Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar can feel like they’ve morphed into the Wednesday at the Square after party, and places situated along the routes out of the CBD see some action too. About 30 minutes after the last song at the square, for instance, the Bridge Lounge fills up with people who thought they were homeward bound along Magazine Street, just as Chickie Wah Wah might on the Canal Street route. 

It’s tempting to make a big night of it after such a fun start to the evening, but cooler heads should prevail. It’s only Wednesday after all, and for that matter it’s still only March. You do have to rest up for those houseguests coming down in April.

Click here for Wednesday at the Square details and schedules.

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