Congo Square Bouncin’ This Weekend

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation celebrates the music and culture of the African diaspora at the eighth annual Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival, March 21-22, in Armstrong Park.

This year's festival celebrates the life of Bo Dollis (pictured upper right)
This year’s festival celebrates the life of Bo Dollis (pictured upper right)

This free event celebrates the cultural diversity of New Orleans and the melting pot of traditions that gave rise to our unique music. We feature the music and dance of Africa, the Caribbean, the American Gulf South and beyond in this two-day, family-friendly festival.

This year the NOJHF highlights New Orleans’ famous Mardi Gras Indians. In honor of the recent passing of the great Emile “Bo” Dollis of the Wild Magnolias – one of the originators of the modern sound of New Orleans music – they’ll present the Wild Mags featuring his longtime collaborator, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux along with Bo’s son, Bo Dollis, Jr.

They’ll also present the red-hot Mardi Gras Indian band Cha Wa. And Chief Smiley Ricks – a longtime stalwart of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian scene – will make his Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival debut.
Also appearing will be two of New Orleans’ hottest brass bands: the Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band, and the world-traveling Hot 8 Brass Band.

Our Caribbean connection this year comes with a performance by the young Cuban drummer and bandleader Yissy Garcia. The Cuban-born, New Orleans-based percussionist Alexey Marti will appear with his band. And the percussionist Michael Skinkus will lead his Afro-Caribbean sacred music group, Moyuba.

Explore traditional and modern African dance with performances by the troupes Kumbuka, N’Fungola Sibo, Tekrema, Culu and N’Kafu. Making its first Congo Square Festival appearance is an African dance troupe that’s new on the scene, the Nkiruka Drum and Dance Ensemble.

The annual “battle” of Mardi Gras Indian tribes is also going down. As a special treat, the New Orleans hip-hop artist Truth Universal will collaborate with the Indian tribes Guardians of the Flame and Fi Yi Yi.

Africa Brass, purveyors of progressive, African-inspired music, will return to the stage — finally! And with a nod to contemporary soul music,  the fast-rising New Orleans band Tank & da Bangas fill your ears with beats, plus one of the fete’s perennial favorites, Bamboula 2000.

As always, a large Arts Market with dozens of vendors featuring locally-produced, hand-made art and crafts will be featured as well. So get your tail feather down there to sample great food from several local vendors showcasing the food of Africa, the Caribbean and New Orleans.

The festival takes place in conjunction with the fourth annual Class Got Brass competition for Louisiana middle and high school brass bands – who will perform on Sunday afternoon in a second-line parade that’s also a contest. The winners will get more than $20,000 worth of instruments for their schools’ band programs.


Saturday, March 21

11:00 am to 12:00 pm Latin Drum Circle
12:00 to 12:45 pm Moyuba featuring Michael Skinkus
12:45 pm to 1:00 pm Culu & N’Kafu African Dance
1:00 pm to 1:40 pm Alexey Marti
1:45 pm to 2:15 pm Yissy Garcia from Cuba
2:15 pm to 2:30 pm Tekrema Dance Theater
2:30 pm to 3:15 pm Big Chief Smiley Ricks
3:15 pm to 4:15 pm Battle of the Mardi Gras Indian featuring
Fi Yi Yi and the Guardians of the Flame
Plus DJ Truth Universal
4:15 pm to 5:30 pm Cha Wa
5:30 pm to 6:00 pm N’Fungola Sibo Dance Theater
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm The Wild Magnolias featuring Monk Boudreaux and Bo Dollis Jr.

Sunday, March 22

11:00 am to 12:00 pm African Drumming & Dance Circle
12:00 pm to 12:45 pm Bamboula 2000
12:45 pm to 1:00 pm Nkiruka Drum and Dance Ensemble
1:00 pm to 1:45 pm Africa Brass
1:45 p.m. to 2:15 pm Kumbuka African Dance Ensemble
2:15 pm to 3:00 pm Tank & da Bangas
4:45 pm to 5:45 pm Hot 8 Brass Band
5:45 pm to 6:00 pm Class Got Brass winners announcement
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm Rebirth Brass Band
Keep The Festival Safe and Free: No Outside Food, Beverages or Pets

PLEASE: Except for those with small children or dietary restrictions, please do not bring outside food or beverages to the event – no coolers are permitted.

On Saturday, March 21, parking will be available in the Mahalia Jackson Theatre parking lot (enter via Basin Street) at a cost of $15 per car. On Sunday, March 22, parking will be available in the same lot – but for free!

Food Vendors
When you come to the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival, come hungry! We’ve expanded our food menu this year to include five great vendors, some serving vegetarian and gluten-free options. If you like Jamaican jerk chicken, shrimp po-boys, soul food and more, you’ve come to the right place. For the complete list of food vendors and their menus, see here.

Art Market
Come to Congo Square ready to shop. We’ve organized an expansive arts market. For the complete list of Arts Market vendors, see here. And check out this slide show of our Arts Market vendors!

Construction Notes
Please be advised that the streetcar installation on Rampart Street will disrupt traffic and parking. Please plan accordingly.

No Recording
Please, no audio or video recording of any performances at the festival.

The 2015 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival is funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Division of the Arts.

The 2015 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival also is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council. The grant is administered through the Arts Council of New Orleans.

Support is also provided by the Louisiana Office of Tourism. Plan your visit today at

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