2016 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival

Mar 19–20, 2016
Satruday, March 19, and Sunday, March 20; 11 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. both days
Armstrong Park
701 N. Rampart Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Admission: Free

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The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation celebrates the music and culture of the African diaspora at the ninth annual Congo Square Rhythms Festival, March 19-20, in Armstrong Park.

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.

As always, we highlight New Orleans’ famous Mardi Gras Indians. In addition to our annual “battle” of the Mardi Gras Indians, this year we’ll present Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles. And as a special treat, we’ll close out the first day of the festival with Ivan Neville’s Mardi Gras Indian tribute, “Injuns Here Dey Come,” featuring Big Chief Roderick Sylvas of the Wild Tchoupitoulas, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles and Big Chief Juan Pardo of the Golden Comanches..

Brass bands are always a major focus of this festival, and 2016 is no exception. We close the festival with the Grammy-winning, world-traveling Rebirth Brass Band. And we’ll present our fifth annual brass band contest for middle schools and high schools – Class Got Brass – in which we distribute more than $30,000 worth of instruments to participating schools. It’s always a highlight of our year. We’ll also showcase the only reggae brass band in New Orleans, the One Love Brass Band.

Speaking of reggae, we continue our tradition of honoring the role of the Caribbean in the development of New Orleans music by presenting one of our favorite local reggae groups, Zion Trinity. And we honor the music of Cuba with the hottest, freshest Latin band on the New Orleans scene, Muevelo! (“Move It!”), featuring the singer Margie Perez and a tribute to the music of Celia Cruz. We also honor the contributions of Brazil to New Orleans culture with a special performance by Casa Samba.

The Congo Square Rhythms Festival celebrates The Motherland. As always, we present several of the many African drumming and dance troupes that operate from New Orleans. Once again, New Orleans’ own Bamboula 2000 brings its unique blend of African rhythms and New Orleans funk to our stage. We also present a new group on the scene, Pirate’s Choice, which blends African percussion and modern soul – and is led by Luke Quaranta of the well-known band Toubab Krewe. And Moyuba, led by percussionist Michael Skinkus, brings us the sacred music of Haiti.

Love R&B? We’ve got two of the hottest groups on the New Orleans scene: Tank & the Bangas (fresh from their victory as “best emerging band” in the OffBeat Best of the Beat Awards), along with the singer Tonya Boyd-Cannon, who was a standout in the 2015 season of the NBC TV program “The Voice.”

And don't miss New Orleans positive rapper Dee-1, who takes the stage Sunday right before the Class Got Brass winners announcement. Dee-1 has been making headlines for years - first for calling out rap heroes for not being good role models, then for signing a major-label record deal, and now for penning a song that racked up 5 million views in its first 10 days online. It's "Sallie Mae Back," Dee-1's righteous riff on the crisis of college debt in America. The Washington Post called it the  "anthem of a generation."

As always, we'll host a large Arts Market with dozens of vendors featuring locally-produced, hand-made art and crafts in a variety of media. See the full list of Arts Market vendors here. And we'll have 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 – which will perform on Sunday afternoon in a second-line parade that's also a contest judged by New Orleans’ top jazz musicians. The winners will get more than $30,000 worth of instruments for their schools' band programs.


Saturday, March 19 
11:00 am to 12:00 pm      Drum Circle with Congo Kids 
12:00 pm to 12:45 pm      Moyuba
12:45 pm to 1:00 pm        Chakra Dance Theater
1:00 pm to 1:45 pm         Zion Trinity
1:45 pm to 2:00 pm         Culu & N'Kafu African Dance Troupes
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm         Pirate's Choice 
3:00 pm to 3:15 pm         Tekrema Dance Theater
3:15 pm to 4:15 pm         Muevelo
4:15 pm to 5:15 pm         Mardi Gras Indian Battle
5:15 pm to 6:15 pm         Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and the Golden Eagles 
6:30 pm to 7:30 pm         Ivan Neville's "Injuns Here Dey Come" featuring Big Chiefs of the Wild Tchoupitoulas, Golden Comanches and Golden Eagles
Sunday, March 20  
11:00 am to 12:00 pm      African Drumming & Dance Circle
12:00 pm to 12:45 pm     One Love Brass Band
12:45 pm to 1:00 pm       N'Fungola Sibo Dance Theater
1:00 pm to 1:45 pm         Bamboula 2000
1:45 pm to 2:00 pm         Kumbuka African Dance Ensemble
2:00 pm to 2:45 pm         Tonya Boyd-Cannon
2:45 pm to 3:00 pm         Casa Samba
3:00 pm to 4:45 pm        CLASS GOT BRASS CONTEST
4:45 pm to 5:45 pm        Tank & the Bangas
5:45 pm to 6:00 pm        Dee-1
6:00 pm to 6:15 pm        Class Got Brass winners announcement
6:15 pm to 7:30 pm        Rebirth Brass Band

Keep The Festival Safe and Free: No Outside Food, Beverages or Pets
Like all of our events, the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival is completely free and open to the public - part of the community investment made by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. Donations, however, are gratefully accepted. If you would like to support the Foundation and help keep this event free, please make the tax-deductible contribution of your choice here.

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.

We realize that Armstrong Park is usually open to pets. But for the safety and comfort of our large audience, we ask that you respect your neighbors and leave your companion animals at home. Thank you.

Kids Activities
This year, we're ramping up our Kids Area with lots of new activities, games and entertainment for the young ones – including tents for baby-changing and nursing.

Drumming Workshops For Kids
Our friends at the Positive Vibrations Foundation are hosting a week of free African drumming workshops for kids ages 10-16 in the week leading up to the Congo Square Rhythms Festival. Their Congo Kids program will meet at 4:30 p.m. March 14-18 at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, teaching young people the fundamentals of African drumming. Participants will join Pirate's Choice onstage at the festival on March 19. To register, see here.

Plenty of parking is available in the Mahalia Jackson Theatre parking lot (enter via Basin Street) thoughout the festival. The cost is $15 per vehicle per day.

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 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival is a presentation of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. The Foundation uses the proceeds from Jazz Fest, and other funds, for year-round programs in the areas of education, economic development and cultural events. For more about the Foundation and what we do, visit us online at www.jazzandheritage.org.

Additional support is provided by the Positive Vibrations Foundation.


Click the links below to download documents.

2016 Congo Square Rhythms Festival Arts Market Vendors

Congo Square Rhythms Festival Archive:

2015's Line-up and Festival Details
2014's Line-up and Festival Details
2013's Line-up and Festival Details
2012's Line-up and Festival Details
2010's Line-up and Festival Details
2009's Line-up and Festival Details

Check out what else we do.

2016 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.