2012 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival

Mar 24–25, 2012
Saturday, March 24, and Sunday, March 25 - 11:00 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. both days
Congo Square - Louis Armstrong Park
901 N. Rampart Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Admission: Free

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2012 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival

Check out our new photo gallery to see images of this year's performers!


From the Congo to Cuba, from Brazil to Basin Street and New Orleans "bounce," the universal drum will beat in Armstrong Park on March 24 and 25, when the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation presents the fifth annual Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival. Newly reopened after years of post-Katrina repair, the park will come alive with the sounds of the African Diaspora. Admission is free.

The Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival is the premier world-music event in New Orleans. Celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Louisiana, the festival showcases the influences from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America that combined in the Crescent City to make New Orleans a melting pot of world culture. 

Congo Square is the location just outside of New Orleans' French Quarter where, starting in the mid-1700s, African slaves were permitted to gather on Sunday afternoons to practice their ancestral traditions of drumming and dance. Visitors from around the world marveled at the rich culture. It was the mix of African influences with those from Europe, Latin America and elsewhere that led to the development of jazz and all that followed. Congo Square is truly the birthplace of American music.

With two stages of music and dance, plus a huge arts market, food vendors and beverages and a social services community center, the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival is more than just an event. It's a true community celebration.N'Kafu Tradtional African Dance Co. at the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival

There will be brass bands, a battle of the Mardi Gras Indians, drum circles a host of related events. See below for details.

Saturday, March 24
11:00 am to 12:00 pm     African Drum Circle
12:00 pm to 12:30 pm     Moyuba
12:30 pm to 1:00 pm       Casa Samba
1:00 pm to 1:45 pm         Africa Brass
1:45 pm to 2:00 pm         N'Kafu African Dance
2:00 pm to 3:00 pm         Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band
3:15 pm to 4:00 pm         Mardi Gras Indian Battle featuring the Wild Magnolias, the Fi Yi Yi and the Mohawk Hunters
4:00 pm to 5:45 pm         Interactivo (salsa/hip-hop orchestra from Cuba)
5:45 pm to 6:00 pm         N'Fungola Sibo African Dance
6:00 pm to 7:15 pm         Diblo Dibala (soukous guitar master from Congo)


Sunday, March 25
11:00 am to 12:00 pm      Latin Drum Circle
12:00                              Revolution Social Aid & Pleasure Club second-line parade starts
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm       Rumba Buena
1:00 pm to 1:15 pm         Third Eye Theatre dance performance with guest drummer Damas "Fan Fan" Louis from Haiti
1:15 pm to 2:15 pm         Fredy Omar con su Banda
2:15 pm to 2:30 pm         Tekrema Dance Theater
2:30 pm to 3:00 pm         Kumbuka African Dance
3:00 pm to 4:00 pm         Bamboula 2000 with special guests Bill Summers and Titos Sompa
4:00 pm to 4:15 pm         Titos Sompa, master dancer from Congo
4:15 pm to 4:45 pm         The Stooges Brass Band
4:45 pm to 6:00 pm         Radio 504: A Message In the Music Hip Hop Summit featuring:
                                                   Truth Universal
                                                   Nesby Phips
6:00 pm to 7:15 pm         The Rebirth Brass Band with Partners-In-Crime and the Big Easy Bounce Band
                                                   Plus special guests:
                                                   DJ Jubilee
                                                   The 8-9 Boys
                                                   Ricky B.

As a special feature, we'll host the finals of our Class Got Brass?, a high school brass band competition with a second-line parade/contest. The winning three bands will take home gift certificates worth $20,000 in instruments for their school music programs. For details, see www.ClassGotBrass.com

We're pleased to annouce that these four food purveyors will be on site for the event:

  • The Praline Connection, with Collard Greens & Fried Chicken, Crowder Peas & Okra with Fried Chicken and Vegetarian Combo Plates.
  • Li'l Dizzy's Cafe, one of the Treme neighborhood's top meeting spots, serving Red Beans & Rice with either Smoked Sausage or House-made Hot Sausage, and Shrimp Remoulade
  • Woody's Fish Tacos, a favorite at many special events around town, serving tacos with your choice of Blackened Fish, Sauteed Shrimp, Slow-Roasted Pork or Vegetarian Black Bean
  • Jazzy Wings, an Uptown eatery known for a serving chicken wings either baked or fried with a wide selection of sauces.

We have more than 30 purveyors of fine hand-crafted art in our Congo Square Arts Market. For the complete list, please see the Downloads section below.

Sankofa Farmers Market, selling dried herbs and other items from the Sankofa Farmer's Market, including cooking demonstrations and grilled veggie samples prepared by students from KIPP Renaissance High School at Fredrick Douglas.

Here's the complete schedule of events surrounding the 2012 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival:

March 3:
Jazz & Heritage Gallery opening reception for “Carnival Brasil,” an exhibition of artworks in various media showcasing the connections between Africa, Brazil and New Orleans. Exhibit closes March 26. Co-­?sponsored by NOLAWorldMusic & Artwerks.

March 18:
Kick-­off Party at the New Orleans Healing Center featuring a performance by AfricaBrass and a screening of the Malian film “Yeelen.” Sponsored by the New Orleans Film Society and AfricaNola.

March 21:
Field trip for local schools to Congo Square for performance by Titos Sompa and drummers, along with Luther Gray of Bamboula 2000. Co-­sponsored by the Congo Square Foundation.

March 22:
AfricaBrass performance at the “Ogden After Hours” concert series. Sponsored by Ogden Museum of Southern Art, with support from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s Community Partnership Grants program.

March 23:
“De Gwine Back Conference: Gullah From Here to Congo Square,” a conference of Gullah (African-­?Americans from the “low country” of Georgia and Carolinas) and Mardi Gras Indians at the Golden Feather. Sponsored by the Gullah/Geechee Nation.

March 23:
“Hallelujah Bye and Bye: Funeral Processions in Ghana and New Orleans,” a panel discussion and film screening at Tulane University’s Freeman Auditorium, in the Woldenberg Arts Center. The film “A Por Por Funeral For Ashirifie,” which compares funeral traditions in New Orleans and Ghana, will be screened. A panel discussion featuring the filmmaker, University of New Mexico anthropology professor Steven Feld, as well as Dr. Michael White and Freddi Evans, will follow. Sponsored by the Tulane Music Department and the New Orleans Film Society.

March 24:
Tom Dent Congo Square Symposium, “Between Heaven and Earth: Soothing the Troubled Soul with the Arts of Our Ancestors,” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Joy Theater. Presenters include: Robert Farris Thompson (professor emeritus at Yale University) and William Ferris (former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities). Sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. For complete details, see www.CongoSquareTalks.info.

March 24-­?25:
Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (both days) in Armstrong Park. Performers include: Titos Sompa (from Congo), Diblo Dibala (from Congo), Interactivo (from Cuba), plus a “battle” of Mardi Gras Indians, African dance troupes, an arts market, a fresh foods market and much more. Presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.

March 24:
Jazz Journey Dance Concert: The Rhythms of Congo Square, an evening of dance
at Tulane University’s Dixon Hall. Performers include the Kumbuka African Dance Ensemble and more to be announced. Concert starts at 8 p.m. Sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.

March 24-25:
Sankofa Farmers Market
, selling dried herbs and other items from the Sankofa Farmer's Market, including cooking demonstrations and grilled veggie samples prepared by students from KIPP Renaissance High School at Fredrick Douglas.

March 24-25
The first annual New Orleans Sacred Music Festival
, an evening event featuring sacred music from myriad traditions. Beings at 7 p.m. both nights. For the schedule, see here.

March 25:
The Revolution Social Aid & Pleasure Club annual second?line parade
. Leaves from Armstrong Park at 1 p.m..

March 25:
High School Brass Band Contest.
To address the issues of arts education in the school system, the lack of adequate instruments for school band programs and the continuation of the New Orleans brass band tradition, the Foundation is organizing a contest for Louisiana high schools. The schools – which have “marching bands,” but not “brass bands” – are invited to form brass bands of up to 12 members, along with “stepping” groups of up to six members. Applications are being solicited statewide. Up to 10 finalists will compete in a second?line parade on Rampart Street starting at 3 p.m. A group of celebrity judges – including Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Dr. Michael White, Gregory Stafford and others – will rate the group on several criteria. The winning groups will receive gift certificates for instruments (and instrument repair) totaling $20,000 (more, if matching donors come forward). Funding through the Foundation’s Community Partnership Grants program has been approved by the Programs & Outreach Committee. Sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. For complete details, see here.


Click the links below to download documents.

2012 Art Market Vendors

2012 Food Vendors

Links & Downloads:

Q-93 Interview with DJ Wild Wayne
Q-93 DJ Wild Wayne interviews our Scott Aiges about the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival for his program "504 Radio," sponsor of our 504 Radio Hip Hop Summit.


Click the links below to play videos.

Interactivo from Cuba Interactivo from Cuba Cubanos por el mundo! Interactivo video press kit.
Diblo Dibala Diblo Dibala "Soukous Music" from the guitar master of the Congo
Partners-N-Crime Partners-N-Crime Interview with the members of the pioneering New Orleans bounce rap duo.
Partners-N-Crime with Rebirth Partners-N-Crime with Rebirth Rebirth and PNC together onstage
Rebirth Brass Band Rebirth Brass Band Live, in the street.
Dee-1 Dee-1 Talking truth to power in "Jay, 50 and Weezy."
Truth Universal Truth Universal Feeling like an "Immigrant" in his own country.
Titos Sompa Titos Sompa Titos at Congo Square for the Tulane Dance Festival

Congo Square Rhythms Festival Archive:

2019's Line-up and Festival Details
2018's Line-up and Festival Details
2017's Line-up and Festival Details
2016's Line-up and Festival Details
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.

2012 Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

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