On Monday, July 3 2017, The Mixed Nuts performed for a crowd of 22,500 at The Uncle Sam Jam in Lafreniere Park in Metairie, LA on the eve of Independence Day. The Nuts performed a set of their own, then backed up legendary soul singer Marc Broussard with members of Marc’s band, and then backed up 50s/60s music icons THE DRIFTERS to close out the night. …Throw in an incredible fireworks display filled with patriotic music and you have an incredible music festival! The 2017 Uncle Sam Jam Festival set one of the largest attendance records in Lafreniere Park – an accolade that was months in the making!
Our parent company, The William Credo Agency, was tasked with the idea to create a flowing seven-hour music festival by The Jefferson Parish Council, namely Councilman Jack Rizzuto. The idea for the Festival was to have minimal interruptions and a very change-over time between acts (something that has been a problem in years past). The line-up was finalized and WCA went to work in the organization of this great event. The first step was to bring in the best of the best to make sure that this show went off without a hitch.
The headliner act this year was The Drifters – the legendary Doo-Wop group for the late 1950s and 60s with such hits like “Save The Last Dance For Me”, “Under The Boardwalk”, “On Broadway” and “Up On The Roof.” For those who remember, members of The Mixed Nuts backed up The Drifters several years ago at Family Gras when they came to New Orleans over Carnival Season 2012. Their return to New Orleans would be quite a different environment than Family Gras (48 degrees F)…the forecast for The Uncle Sam Jam had the typical New Orleans Summer pattern (1,000 degrees F with 2000% humidity). After flying in the members of The Drifters from Toronto to New Orleans on Sunday July 2, WCA scheduled the walk-through rehearsal with their music director, Vezi.
On July 3, the event started with Christian Serpas & Ghost Town who have performed at this event for almost twenty years. Christian and the band brought their own country rock to the stage which is always a big hit with the crowd! Next up was Ray Boudreaux and his band who drove in from Lafayette, LA played the show, then flew back to Lafayette to perform another show. Ray was a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice” and continues to tour and record as a rising start from south Louisiana. Two shows in two towns in one day is quite a challenge!
Next up , The Mixed Nuts took the stage to begin the first of three sets using the same core group. The band opened with “Pick Up The Pieces” by The Average White Band which introduced “The 504 Horns” Jason Parfait and Jimmie Reamey. After introducing our front vocalists, The Nuts brought the massive crowd through several decades of popular songs with hits by EWF, Tina Turner, Bruno Mars, The B-52s, Justin Timberlake, Prince, and more. One of the highlighted songs from the set was a tribute to Joe Cocker with his version of “With A Little Help From My Friends” featuring Jeff McCarty music on vocals. The set ended with “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince as the sun began to set over Jefferson Parish.
With almost zero turn-around time, Marc Broussard took the stage at 8pm. Chad Gilmore has been Marc Broussard’s drummer for many years, as well as being drummer for The Mixed Nuts. Marc’s band for The Uncle Sam Jam consisted of Nuts Chad Gilmore, Beau St. Pierre, and 504 Horns, as well as Joe Stark on guitar, and DJ Raymond on bass. This soul tour-de-force brought the festival into the evening hours, as Marc’s set list was a career-spanning show featuring songs from all of his albums. When Marc and the band finished at 9:15pm, the audience was greeted with an award-winning fireworks show set to patriotic music to ring in The Independence Day weekend!
Immediately following the fireworks, The Nuts were back on stage firing off the intro music to The Drifters set. One by one, the legendary Drifters featuring Rick Sheppard filed on stage and began their show with “Feels Like The First Time.” 22,500 people were treated to a 90-minute set of solid gold hits, all featuring that classic Motown choreography that The Drifters are known for. The Mixed Nuts didn’t miss a beat backing up The Drifters and bringing these classic hits to life in front of the massive audience in attendance. The show ended at 11:15pm – a full day of non-stop music was an outstanding success!
The William Credo Agency would like to thank all of the members of our music/production team: The Mixed Nuts, Becky Fradella from B-Sharp Events for running management, Keith Ballas for driving the ship at FOH, and Tim Kilbride and Big Boy Audio and his staff. A special thanks and congratulations to Councilman Jack Rizzuto on a highly successful event. A big thank you as well to our friends at Lafreniere Park who work tirelessly to make sure the park is always at 100%!
When the right team comes together, fireworks will usually go off! The fireworks were nice and bright on July 3, both in the sky and on the stage.