Fest Fave: special events enhance FIL

by Dominick Cross

For most people, Festival International is all about the music. However these are other events including more music, film, and theater events that Festival presents by teaming up with a local businesses, art organizations and UL Lafayette that fall under a Special Events category - not that Festival isn't special in itself. Well, it's that and more and here's why...

[Editor's Note: This is the second in our new blog series called "Fest Fave" that will take a close look at all things Festival International and cool stuff in particular that catches our eye.]

One of the many wonderful things about Festival International de Louisiane, April 25-29, is the way it changes the face of downtown Lafayette - literally the sight, sound, scent and texture.

Lafayette becomes an open air market place of global music, costume and of course cuisine as downtown metamorphoses from, well a busy southern downtown into an incredible, and now, the best World Music festival (Poll: about.com).

It's a transformation that is really cool to watch as stages go up and areas for booths and the like are marked off here and there on streets, parking lots and parks. By Wednesday around noon, the excitement is palpable. Come that night, Festival is on and the excellent vibe continues through Sunday.

That said, there are a couple of Festival events that may sometimes go unnoticed as you scurry from one stage to another, perhaps stopping only long enough to indulge in some food and drink, or to purchase some art or cultural craft along the way.

And these are the music, film, and theater events that Festival has teamed up with a local business, art organizations or UL Lafayette that fall under a Special Events category - not that Festival isn't special in itself - to present. Note; Some may have a cover charge.

At the Blue Moon, 215 E. Convent St., you'll find Rhythms & Roots where a local and international band come together in a context of "celebrating the musical bridge between cultures," says Apiyo Obala, Festival marketing coordinator. "Basically it's a performance with the two of them where they'll hear different styles and see some really great music happening on stage before their own eyes."

Rhythms & Roots has local-on-local combos Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with Rufus Jagneaux and Warren Storm and Pat Breaux, and Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys w/Courtbouillon, respectively.

Go here for schedule.

Festival wraps up Sunday, as does Rhythms & Roots with a Gospel Brunch featuring The Mercy Brothers. Later, it's Festival's Appreciation Party with Vagabond Swing and Slavic Soul Party and others.

In the film category, Soiree de Cinema begins Monday at Cité des Arts, 109 Vine Street and French Press, 214 E. Vermilion (at the corner of Jefferson Street).

"It's all these really great French films," says Obala. "One of our artists, Lindigo, is subject of one of our films," says Obala, referring to Creole Cousins - A Portrait of Lindigo and Brazil set for Saturday at the French Press. In fact, Lindigo " is going to be having a documentary crew following them. They're from Reunion Island and this is their first time in the United States."

Go here for schedule.

Theater gets into the act during Festival with UL Lafayette's Performing Arts Program, Acting Unlimited, performing Theatre: Kaleidoscope, written by Ray Bradbury. It's "a radio-hybrid play," says Obala.

There's also the Louisiana International Music Exchange, which is open to the general public for the first time.

"It's an opportunity for local musicians - it's kind of like an expo - to meet presenters from other festivals and management from all over," says Obala. "During LIME, some selected bands will be performing."

Go here for schedule.

In addition, there are the sensational street performances during Festival, as well as the Courir du Festival 5k run.