Foburg Music Festival
Friday-Sunday, March 12-14, 2010
Various venues; visit www.foburgneworleans.com for schedule and ticket information
There are 88 bands scheduled for the inaugural Foburg music festival. It only seems Michael Girardot is in all of them.
Girardot's group Big Rock Candy Mountain headlines the LiveNewOrleans.com showcase at the Blue Nile on Sunday, and his trumpet features prominently in both Rotary Downs (performing Saturday at d.b.a.) and Giant Cloud (playing Friday at Maison 508). He's also a founding member of the New Orleans Indie Rock Collective, which is running the event. So when he talks about the challenges of organizing an "incestuous" scene — at least 20 people, he estimates, will perform in multiple bands — it's a two-sided perspective.
Perspective No. 1: The exasperated producer. "You look at your schedule, and you go down the list, and you think of everyone that plays in the same bands," Girardot says. "Then you're like, all right, we have to move these two bands, because they can't play at the same time. Then someone gets back and is like, 'Oh, this person just joined my band. So can we play at a different time?'"
Perspective No. 2: The musician in multiple bands. "I fall into that category as well," he admits with a laugh.
Come Friday, Girardot may literally have his hands full: a horn in one and a walkie-talkie in the other. "I will only play with Giant Cloud if there aren't any fires going on at the moment," he says. "I'll have my trumpet with me, and if nothing's hitting the fan, I'll be onstage."
The event, which will take over six Faubourg Marigny nightclubs (Maison 508, d.b.a., Blue Nile, Dragon's Den, Check Point Charlie and the R Bar), was inspired by and patterned after Austin's mammoth South By Southwest (SXSW) conference, says organizer Rachel Puckett. "We always get bombarded (in March) by national bands coming through that want shows. Last year at this time, it was just overwhelming. This year, we really wanted to have a good platform for them."
As with SXSW, the crew tapped local tastemakers to curate showcases consisting of three to four acts nightly; they include organizations like WTUL-FM, Park the Van Records, Static Television, Dirty Coast and Humid Beings, as well as individual acts like the Bingo! Show and White Bitch. And SXSW-like wristbands, on sale for $25 to $30, allow entrance to any show (individual tickets also are available).
"We knew there was no way that four people who had full-time jobs — that weren't paying ourselves — could put together a festival with 85-plus bands without any help," Girardot says. "The best way to do that is to get a lot of people involved. A lot of these programming partners are handling a particular venue. We're overseeing the whole thing, but they're doing most of the dirty work: picking the bands, dealing with the venues."
The schedule is heavy on local rock but, like the scene itself, makes room for noise (Ray Bong), country/folk (Hurray For the Riff Raff), free jazz (WATIV) and assorted DJs (Pasta, Alison Fensterstock, Lefty Parker). Visitors are coming from near (Lafayette's Afropop-powered GIVERS), far (New York City punk Power Rangers Peelander-Z) and in between (Nashville garage-rockers Jeff the Brotherhood).
The benefits of such a melting pot extend from attendees to performers, Puckett says. "The biggest successes would be if people left knowing bands they didn't know beforehand, and having more national bands put New Orleans on their tour itinerary."
For the man with a foot in both camps, it's just the first leg of what was already the busiest musical month of the year. "It's going to be a really cool weekend," Girardot says. "Then right after I get to go to South By Southwest and do it all again — from the easier point of view."