Music acts will keep balloon festival grounds busy

Published 1:04 am Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New faces and some oldies but goodies will light up the stage at the annual balloon races this weekend.

While the hot-air balloons float high above the Miss-Lou — and even when they don’t — bands will entertain crowds at the Rosalie Bicentennial Gardens.

Balloon race Director Laura Godfrey said she felt good about this year’s entertainment.

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“This is probably the best lineup we’ve ever had,” she said. “It’s just going to be super.”

The first band — Big Sam’s Funky Nation — will play at 8 p.m. Friday.

The festival gates will open again at 11 a.m. Saturday with bands playing all day long. Better than Ezra will headline the show at 9:30 p.m.

Music will continue Sunday afternoon starting at 1 p.m.

Adult admission is $5 Friday, $15 Saturday and $10 Sunday. A weekend adult pass is $25.

Here are the musicians and bands that will be playing at this year’s balloon race festival:

Better than Ezra — 9:30 p.m. Saturday

The headliner this year is Better than Ezra a rock and roll band with eight hit albums in stores, including several platinum labels. The band members are New Orleans natives. Their latest album is “Before the Robots.”

Marcia Bell — 4:45 p.m. Sunday

This Vinton, La., native combines powerful singing with some serious keyboard banging to keep audiences moving.

Edgar Winter Group — 5:45 p.m. Saturday

Best known for his recording of “Tobacco Road,” Edgar Winter gained fame in the 1970s. This Texas native plays a combination of jazz, blues, rock and pop.

Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes — 7:30 p.m. Saturday

A funk/rock mix that’s a fan favorite in New Orleans, Johnny Sketch and crew blend guitar, violin and harmonica to make beautiful rhythms.

Benjy Davis Project — 4 p.m. Saturday

This six-piece ensemble plays folk-rock tunes that Southern audiences adore. The group combines collegiate pop, 1960s rock and Southern roots to make their sounds.

Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor — 1 p.m. Sunday

This Louisiana reggae/funk band with contemporary and ethnic rhythms was influenced by Bob Marley.

Country Fried — 1 p.m. Saturday

When country music didn’t work out for this group they tried their hand at roots music and found their own success. Rock tunes with a country fried twist is what you get when you listen to this group.

Walter “Wolfman” Washington — 2:45 p.m. Sunday

Wolfman is well known in the New Orleans music scene and ready to bring his tune to the Natchez crowds. Souls sounds will waft through the air when Washington takes stage. His music is a hybrid of R&B, funk and the blues.

Amanda Shaw with Brint Anderson — 2:15 p.m. Saturday

A teenager from Covington, La., this classical violin prodigy sounds good on a Cajun fiddle as well. She’s also made a few movie appearances.

Big Sam’s Funky Nation — 8 p.m. Friday

Big Sam left the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to venture on his own. His jazz trombone blowing will keep fans bopping this weekend.