The Super Bowl stole a day of Family Gras.
In 2017, the free, weekend-long festival on the Veterans Memorial Boulevard neutral ground near Lakeside Mall still concluded on Sunday, even though there were no Carnival parades in Metairie that day.
But this year, what would have been Family Gras Sunday fell on Super Bowl Sunday. So instead of encompassing the entire weekend, the 2018 Family Gras, the 11th overall, is limited to Friday evening and all day Saturday.
Still, it packs a lot of music, both local and national, into its truncated schedule.
The Friday roster features two veteran bands that are emblematic of New Orleans music — funk and soul keyboardist David Batiste & the Gladiators, and Deacon John & the Ivories.
The Gladiators, featuring multiple members of the extended Batiste family of musicians, have been around since the 1960s. “Deacon” John Moore and his band have entertained generations of locals with a celebratory mix of New Orleans rhythm & blues, soul, jump blues, rock & roll and everything in between.
Cyndi Lauper, the original girl who just wants to have fun, closes out Family Gras on Saturday night, starting at 6 p.m. She’s preceded by former Doobie Brothers vocalist Michael McDonald; John Oates, one half of hitmaking '80s duo Hall & Oates; and young local cover band Remedy. The Imagination Movers, the local kids’ music quartet that starred in a self-titled Disney Channel show, kick off Saturday’s show at noon.
The music should wrap up by the time each night’s parade rolls by. That would be the Krewe of Excalibur on Friday night, and the Krewe of Caesar on Saturday.
The final three Family Gras acts on Saturday all boast deep catalogs of instantly recognizable hits, and have all appeared at that other prominent, springtime festival across the parish line – the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival – in recent years.
As one half of Philly blue-eyed soul/pop/rock duo Daryl Hall & John Oates, Oates was a fixture on '80s FM radio and the early years of MTV. The dark-haired, mustachioed half of the duo played guitar and sang backup, while creative partner Darryl Hall (the blonde one) handled lead vocals. Together, they scored a string of hits: “Kiss On My List,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” “Maneater,” “Rich Girl,” “Private Eyes,” “You Make My Dreams,” “Sara Smile,” “Out of Touch,” etc.
The songs have aged well, and Hall and Oates have enjoyed something of a resurgence. They remain a popular live attraction. They’ll share a bill with Train at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on June 28. Unlike Family Gras, tickets won’t be free.
McDonald first came to prominence as the vocalist in 1970s smooth rock outfit Steely Dan. He joined the Doobie Brothers in 1975 and sang lead on “What A Fool Believes,” “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “Real Love,” among other radio standards. He subsequently released multiple solo albums while continuing to collaborate occasionally with both Steely Dan and the Doobies.
Lauper, she of the kaleidoscope hair and exaggerated New Yawk accent, used “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” to launch a durable, multidecade career. Her 1983 debut album, “She’s So Unusual,” yielded multiple hits, including “She Bop,” “Time After Time” and “All Through the Night.” The title track of her second album, “True Colors,” announced a greater depth in her songwriting and hinted at her future LGBT activism.
At Family Gras, she’ll reprise older hits and showcase a new song, “Hope,” which is part of a campaign to raise awareness of psoriasis. Which in and of itself doesn’t sound particularly Carnival-like, but Lauper will likely make it fun.
General admission to Family Gras is free. However, a two-day “VIP Royal Pass” can be purchased for $125. Amenities include “premium” stage viewing, backstage access, one meal and one drink on Friday, and two meals and two drinks on Saturday. Passes can be purchased via Ticketmaster.
Music at Family Gras
5:30 p.m.: David Batiste & the Gladiators
7:15 p.m.: Deacon John & the Ivories
Noon: Imagination Movers
1 p.m.: Remedy
2:30 p.m.: John Oates
4:15 p.m.: Michael McDonald
6 p.m.: Cyndi Lauper