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Michael Arnone's Crawfish Fest 2011

Twenty-second annual event promises Bayou fun in New Jersey


Blues guitarist Sonny Landreth

Blues guitarist Sonny Landreth

Photo by Sandro, courtesy Cary Baker's Conqueroo

Every year in early June for over two decades, the congenial Michael Arnone has hosted the annual Crawfish Fest in Augusta, New Jersey. This year's event, the 22nd annual Crawfish Fest, promises to be bigger and better than the previous 21 festivals, with over two-dozen performers on four stages kickin' out the jams, including New Orleans musical legends the Radiators, who are on a sort of "retirement" farewell tour.

Michael Arnone's Crawfish Fest

Michael Arnone's Twenty-Second Annual Crawfish Fest will be held from Friday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 5th at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, New Jersey. The event features "Louisiana and New Orleans style" music – plenty of blues, R&B, funk, and zydeco – as well as Cajun and other food, and there is room for camping for those who enjoy their music under the stars. In fact, Friday night offers a little something special for campers only, with performances by George Porter, Jr. and Runnin' Pardners, the Tin Men, and Devon Allman's Honeytribe.

The music kicks off at 10:30 am Saturday morning, and the day's line-up includes performances by the Savoy Family Band, Geno Delafose, Mem Shannon and the Membership, and Brother Joscephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra. Late night Saturday will include performances by Bonerama, Carolyn Wonderland, and the Bridge, all performing for campers only. On Sunday the party begins at 11:30 am and features Johnny Ace and Sidewalk Zydeco, the Iguanas, Cowboy Mouth, and the New Mastersounds featuring Art Neville. Other performers at Michael Arnone's Twenty-Second Annual Crawfish Fest include:

  • The High & Mighty Brass Band
  • Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas
  • Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes
  • Summer Raw McLaughlan

Crawfish Fest Headline Performers

Arnone's line-up of festival headliners is particularly impressive this year, including, as previously mentioned, the incredible and legendary Radiators. Formed in 1978 in New Orleans, the Radiators have thrilled audiences worldwide with their spirited mix of roots-rock, blues, funk, and New Orleans R&B. The band is currently on its final tour, with a stop Saturday night at the Crawfish Fest.

Phenomenal slide-guitarist Sonny Landreth, another of Louisiana's favorite sons, also appears on Saturday night, and if you've never seen Landreth tear up the strings, you owe it to yourself to check out his performance. A long-time sideman with John Hiatt's band, Landreth is universally admired by other guitarists, and has worked with folks like Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler as well as British blues legend John Mayall. Guitarist Tab Benoit also appears Saturday night, the New Orleans-based guitarist building a legend of his own, touring in support of his new album Medicine.

Sunday night headliner Anders Osborne may have been born in Sweden, but his heart is definitely in New Orleans, where he's lived the last few years. Osborne brings a distinctive vision to the blues, incorporating dollops of jazz and soul into his fluid fretwork. Osborne released his most recent album, 2010's American Patchwork, to widespread critical acclaim, and also contributed to Benoit's recent Medicine album. The other Sunday night headliner is the one-and-only Guitar Shorty, as wicked cool and dynamic a stringbender as you'll find anywhere, a fiery performer that has knocked around the blues world since the 1950s.

Check with the Michael Arnone's Crawfish Fest website for more details on ticket availability, performance schedules, and camping.

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