When La Fete de Marquette makes its return to Central Park this weekend, it will be effectively doubling its musical capacity.
The annual east side Madison extravaganza organized by the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center is introducing a brand new stage into the mix off of Brearly Street (nicknamed the Moon Stage) devoted entirely to electronic music. Add to that the traditional mix of Cajun, blues, and big brass at an Ingersoll Street stage (called the Sun Stage), and it means that the event will be firing on more cylinders than it has before.
The free festival will be open to the public at Central Park Thursday through Sunday.
According to the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center's programming director, Beatrice Hadidian, visitors to the four-day affair on Madison's near east side can also expect a similar mix of food and beverages, local businesses, and carnival activities from years past — along with an expanded family-friendly "family fete" area with kid-friendly activities from rides to face-painting.
It makes for a weekend of food, fun, and community, said Hadidian. Plus, she said, the lineup of musicians that her team has been working for months to put together is looking strong.
"It's an awesome mashup of local music and world-class touring acts," said Hadidian.
Here are five artists that in particular could be worth checking out at this year's event:
What's likely the biggest name at this year's festival is hardly a stranger to the fete — Kid Koala has actually donned his signature koala-ear onesie for the festival before, back when it was still held in a parking lot on East Washington Avenue. When the DJ and turntablist makes his return on Friday night, don't expect big beats and fat bass — Koala's forte is to take instrumental, jazzy samples and mix them into tracks that more effervescent and playful than dancey.
Koala will be taking the Moon Stage on Friday night at 9:30 p.m. For fans who want to double-dip, he'll also be performing at the High Noon Saloon for its concurrent Music Electronique Afterparty at 10:30 that same night.
This fresh-faced crew of young multi-instrumentalists from New Orleans have been turning heads with their sweeping, pie-in-the-sky indie rock that's steeped in French-Louisiana rhythms. Alexis Marceaux's deep, gravely lead vocals are perhaps the most evocative ingredient in the band's mix. The six-member band backing her provide a percussive tapestry of handclaps, snare drum beats and drumstick clacking that's unique and supremely energizing.
Sweet Crude will take the Sun Stage at 7:15 on Friday night.
Watching the electronic pop duo Ginkgoa's sensational set at last year's Montreal International Jazz Festival, "sassy" is a word the readily comes to mind when describing Ginkgoa. During one song, Nicolle Rochelle croons, "If you want pieces of this, my good man, I'll tell you frankly: I don't give a damn," over a zesty French pop and swing-infused electronic beat.
Watch out for equally contagious grooves when the ensemble takes the Sun Stage on Saturday night at 7 p.m. — and again on Sunday night for an encore performance on the Moon Stage at 7:30.
"Mbalax" means "rhythm" in the Senegalese language of Wolof. And listening to Pape Diouf's music, it's abundantly clear why he's become one of the most well-known Mbalax artists of his time. The rock, hip hop and Latin-infused pop music he creates is peppered with the crisp polyrhythmic drumming of the sabar, a Senegalese instrument, to create music that's both technically complex and sonically dense.
Check out Pape Diouf's set at 6 p.m. Sunday on the Sun Stage.
For those willing to shell out some cash, and who are in the mood for something strummy, the Acoustic Cafe — a brunchy fundraiser for the Wil-Mar Center to be held as part of the fete — will be the ticket. For those who sign up to sip on coffee and scarf down croissants, they'll be regaled with the versatile guitar duo Mal-O-Dua. The Madison duo performs a unique cocktail of Hawaiian, swing, and jazz guitar music that will provide a gentle contrast to the bolder and brasher sounds that will be featured on the mainstages.
The Acoustic Cafe will be held Sunday morning starting at 10 a.m. Tickets can be bought for $15 by calling the Wil-Mar Center to make reservations.