A report by Emily Carmichael for OffBeat.
This past Saturday, a city often deemed the “Northernmost in the Caribbean” and its truly-Caribbean counterparts dug up their common roots in the back of a barbecue joint, celebrating their shared heritage of smoked meats and African-inspired rhythms.
Central City BBQ hosted the NOLA Caribbean Festival, showcasing a variety of local and international music and vendors, many of which proudly displayed the flag of their country of origin, ranging from Haiti to Honduras.
Underneath the lights strung across the restaurant’s outdoor courtyard, the first day of the festival featured DJ Lion, N’kruka African Dance, Alexey Marti, Zyanhigh, Etana and a Dancehall Queen Competition on their one stage.
While all the acts had the comfortably crowded courtyard swaying, the stand out of the night was Etana. With a stage presence that wove together the intimacy of your high school best friend and glamorous ease of your high school prom queen, the Jamaican-born signer delivered her reggae beats with a playfulness that put you at awe and at ease. She took a special interest in her audience, joking with the crowd and dancing along to her music as she reminded them of what they had gathered to celebrate in the first place: good caribbean music.
Between the drum beats, festival goers shopped and snacked on mostly local fare with an international flare. People could buy everything from local hand-made soap to shark meat sandwiches from Trinidad and Tobago. Food vendors included Johnny’s Jamaican Grill, Taylor Made Wings, Boswell’s, The Pupusa Lady, Fritai, Island Paradise, Karibu Kitchen, Trini Queen, Amina Dada’s Rasta Burgers, Zippy Fruit and Irie Nyammings.
NOLA Caribbean festival’s Sunday line up included DJ Megatron, Neptune Steel Pan Orchestra, Merengue 4, Yard Squad Band, I-Majesty and T-Rock.