The music of Family Gras, the free Carnival festival staged on the Veterans Memorial Boulevard neutral ground near Lakeside Shopping Center, has always been eclectic. The 2016 roster is no exception.
Family Gras 2016, slated for Jan. 29-31, features Dr. John, the Monkees and the Band Perry. That is, successively, a local icon, a partially reconstructed ’60s pop-rock band on a 50th anniversary tour, and a decidedly contemporary country combo, all appearing at Family Gras for the first time.
And those are just the headliners. The undercard is even more of a mix.
Local alternative rock band Paris Avenue opens Family Gras at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29. Dr. John & the Nite Trippers follow from 7:15 to 8:30.
On Saturday, Jan. 30, the Monkees are preceded by brassy funk combo Big Sam’s Funky Nation, local indie-pop duo So Long Storyland and the Imagination Movers, the homegrown kids’ music band that starred in a Disney Junior channel series for three seasons. An additional act for Jan. 30 will be announced soon.
The lineup on Sunday, Jan. 31, is the weekend’s most cohesive. The Band Perry tops a roster that includes fellow country hitmaker Rodney Atkins, rock ’n’ roll veteran Johnny Rivers and Louisiana country/pop fiddler and singer Amanda Shaw. Remedy, a band of local teenagers who intermingle original compositions with classic, contemporary and alternative rock covers, opens the day.
General admission is free. A three-day VIP pass is $99 and includes access to a priority viewing area, the backstage area and restroom facilities, as well as two food or drink items per day. Children under 4 years old do not require a VIP ticket. Tickets are available for purchase via Ticketmaster.com. Additional fees apply. Go to www.familygras.com for information.
The Band Perry is arguably this year’s biggest “get,” as well as the closing act on the festival’s final day. Hailing from Mobile, Alabama, the Band Perry consists of siblings Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry. They introduced themselves with their self-titled debut album in 2010; it yielded the No. 1 single “If I Die Young,” the band’s biggest hit to date. The Perry crew’s second effort, 2013’s “Pioneer,” didn’t sell as well despite the hits “Better Dig Two” — the “two” in the title refers to graves — and “Done.” The Band Perry’s all-important third album is slated for release in early 2016, meaning the Family Gras crowd will likely get a sneak peek.
The Band Perry follows Rodney Atkins on what is essentially “Country Day” at Family Gras. Atkins struck gold with his second album, “If You’re Going Through Hell,” in 2006; the title track and “Watching You” were both huge singles. His “It’s America,” the title track of his 2009 album, also hit No. 1. Atkins hasn’t released a collection of new material since 2011, opting instead for a compilation, “Greatest Hits,” last year.
Rivers, also slotted for Family Gras’ final day, grew up in Baton Rouge. In the 1960s, his hits included “Poor Side of Town,” a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis,” “Secret Agent Man,” “Mountain of Love” and “The Seventh Son.” He remains a popular draw on the casino circuit.
On Jan. 30, Family Gras features The Monkees, a fake band that became a real one. The four original members were initially cast to star in a TV show about a band that wanted to be like the Beatles. But lo and behold, the Monkees ended up scoring a string of actual hits, including “Last Train to Clarksville” “Daydream Believer,” “I’m a Believer” — written by a then-unknown songwriter named Neil Diamond — and “Pleasant Valley Sunday.”
Two of the four original Monkees — Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz — are confirmed for the upcoming 50th anniversary tour, which commemorates their TV series’ debut in 1966. Michael Nesmith’s participation is apparently less certain. The fourth original Monkee, Davy Jones, died in 2012.
So Long Storyland, slotted between the Imagination Movers and Big Sam’s Funky Nation on Jan. 30, is a 2-year-old local indie-pop project consisting of songwriter, producer and keyboardist Rathbone deBuys and teenage vocalist Sophia Preston. They cite the Cranberries and Mazzy Star as inspirations for their own music.
At press time, the “surprise guest” who will close out Jan. 30 at Family Gras had yet to be named. Given the bill’s eclecticism, it could be anybody.