Le Vent du Nord (CityStage, 8:30 p.m.)
There’s a reason why traditional Québécois bands will sound familiar to anyone who digs Cajun music: They both sprang from the culture of French settlement in the New World. As with many great styles, relative isolation seems to have had a salutary effect. As a conduit of the French culture, the music persisted in towns and villages north of the border when Canada became a British colony in 1763, with dances and tunes influenced by later immigration from Scotland and Ireland. Le Vent du Nord, which translates as “the wind from the north,” is one of the best traditional Québécois traditional bands around.
Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys (Wrangler Stage at 6 p.m.)
If you’re going to see Le Vent du Nord, it’s more or less mandatory that you check out Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys to see what happened when the French tradition filtered down the Mississippi valley to rural Louisiana and then mixed (or creolized) with African-American culture. And besides, Broussard and his band are the inaugural act, and there’s nowhere else to be.
Grupo Rebolú (Dance Pavilion at 9:30 p.m.)
Africa is considered the third root of Latin America, together with the European influence. The stamp of Africa is especially felt on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Master percussionist Morris Cañate comes from Palenque de San Basilio, reportedly the first town in the Americas to be founded by freed slaves. He founded Grupo Rebolú with singer-composer Morris Polo, who plays a flute-like instrument called the gaita. As transplants to Queens, NY they have become the leading ambassadors of Afro-Colombian music in the United States.
Norfolk Southern Lawmen (Dance Pavilion, 7:15 p.m.)
Not all music springs from anarchic sources, and Norfolk Southern Lawmen proves the exception as an outfit founded in 1951 by Snow Baker, a lieutenant in the railroad’s police department. Now, as PR ambassadors for the railroad system that traverses the Southeast, the Lawmen wouldn’t sound out of place as the opening act for Travis Tritt or any number of Southern rock-influenced Nashville cookie cutters.
The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. with Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys at Wrangler Stage. Stick around for the opening parade at 6:45 p.m., and then head over to CityStage to see Mariachi Los Camperos de Nati Cano at 7:30 p.m. You can stay put and wait for Le Vent du Nord’s 8:30 p.m. set, or head over to the Dance Pavilion to see Super Chikan & the Fighting Cocks at 8:15 p.m. Grupo Rebolú revs up at 9:30 p.m. at the Dance Pavilion. Slip out early and catch part of the Alt’s set at the Lawn Stage.