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North Coast Current

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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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San Diego’s ‘Gator By the Bay’ Music, Food and Crawfish Festival Returns for 17th Year


San Diego CA— San Diego’s annual Gator By The Bay, the largest, most-authentic Louisiana-themed music and food festival this side of the bayou, will be held May 10 – 13, 2018, at Spanish Landing Park on beautiful San Diego Bay. Presented by the Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego, this celebration features four days of live music with more than 100 musical acts and special performances on seven stages as well as a delicious array of southern cuisine, including 10,000 pounds of fresh crawfish trucked all the way from Opelousas, Louisiana!
Dates: May 10-13, 2018
Times: Thurs., May 10: 6:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Fri., May 11: 3:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sat., May 12: 10:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Sun., May 13: 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Location: Spanish Landing Park, North Harbor Drive. Directly across from the San Diego International Airport.
“Gator By The Bay is a can’t-miss event that brings Louisiana’s rich culture to the West Coast by showcasing the region’s eclectic melting pot of history, food, music, dance and more,” said Peter Oliver, a Gator By The Bay Producer. “We invite both San Diegans and visitors from afar to immerse themselves in an authentic Louisiana experience – from joining in on an extravagant Mardi Gras costume parade to breaking out some Zydeco dance moves on the floor to cracking open a flavorful crawfish.”
Since its inception in 2001, the festival has grown to showcase a diverse selection of music genres including blues, salsa, Zydeco, Cajun and country. Grammy winning artists directly from Louisiana, legendary Chicago and California blues artists, rockabilly and roots performers and award-winning salsa and Latin bands have performed each year. The highly anticipated festival has become an annual must-do for enthusiasts of all ages who travel from throughout California and most all of the other U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
“Get ready to boogie the day and evening away on the beautiful San Diego Bay,” said Oliver. “Let the good times roll at Gator By The Bay, or as they say in Louisiana – Laissez les bon temps rouler!”
The festival kicks off on Thursday, May 10 at 6 p.m. with a concert double-headlined by blues vocalist Shana Morrison and Louisiana-bred Sonny Landreth. Morrison, who started her career in her father, Van Morrison’s, band is known for musical stylings of pop with a side of blues and rock which has brought her international acclaim and praises in “People,” “Rolling Stone,” and “Interview.” Landreth, known as “King of Slydeco,” is one of the most advanced guitarists of our time and has developed a unique style that has captivated audiences across the world.

Musical headliners this year include:

Horace Trahan & The Ossun Express, a world-renowned six-piece Cajun and Zydeco band straight from Louisiana, will tear up the stage with accordion, powerful vocals and so much more.
The Pine Leaf Boys, hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana, present their inimitable brand of Louisiana music with youthful exuberance, blending the sounds of Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp-Pop, Country and Soul. Pine Leaf Boys have garnered four Grammy nominations, as well as six invitations from the U.S. State Department to present their music to 23 countries across the globe. Lead band member Wilson Savoy received a 2012 Grammy award for Best Regional Roots when he was in The Band Courtbouillon.
The Revelers, Grammy-nominated in 2016, combine Cajun, country, blues and Zydeco into a powerful tonic of roots music straight from southwest Louisiana that’s sure to get you moving.
Keith Frank has blazed a trail in Zydeco that is being emulated and will be remembered well after he is gone. His dominant position in the Zydeco community and the impact of his every move has earned him a distinct title in South Louisiana. Keith Frank is The Zydeco Boss! Appearing with Keith Frank is Dexter Ardoin who hails from one of the most revered families in Louisiana music, true royalty in the world of Zydeco.
Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers, tried-and-true, dyed-in-the-wool blues veterans with their own distinct style of blues – featuring a combination of low-down Chicago grit, suave West Coast swing and jazz and the rhythmic drive of the best early R&B and rock and roll.
Igor Prado from Sao Paulo Brazil, known for blues, soul, funk and rock and roll teams up with local vocalist Whitney Shay, an award winning and highly acclaimed performer from San Diego. Igor’s music style mixes the blues with elements of swing and famous jazz dance hall sounds of the forties.
Carolyn Wonderland, a musical force equipped with soulful vocals and guitar slinging skills, reaches into the depths of Texas blues tradition with the wit of a poet.
Mr. Sipp, influenced by his family’s gospel quartet group and known as “The Mississippi Blues Child,” brings the blues far beyond his home state, touring the world from Hong Kong, Brazil, Denmark and beyond. Accolades include winner of the 2014 International Blues Challenge (Band), the Albert King Gibson Guitar Award and 2016 BMA Best New Artist Album.
Earl Thomas, a Tennessee native who started out as a street performer, will perform his show “Gospel According to Earl Thomas”. Thomas’ rise to fame has included four appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and song writing for artists ranging from Etta James to Solomon Burke to Tom Jones. For more than a decade Earl Thomas has remained a unique and authentic performer, exploring fresh musical avenues that have taken him from the simplicity of acoustic-driven Delta Blues to the brace of Rock, Soul, Rhythm & Blues and Jazz.
And many, many more that are added daily.


The festival boasts five wooden dance floors, including two 3,000 square foot shaded dance floors at each of the two main stages. For those who want to shake shimmy or stomp your feet in other than free style there will be free lessons by some of the finest dance instructors in the country.


The French Quarter Food Court features the authentic tastes of Louisiana with many vendors making the cross-country trip just for the festival. Attendees can indulge their palates in Louisiana-raised crawfish, boudin sausage, catfish, alligator, barbecue and oysters. And the cuisine wouldn’t be complete without well-loved favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, po’ boys and etouffée. Satiate your sweet tooth with decadent beignets, sweet potato pie, homemade ice cream, pralines and bread pudding.

Fun Activities for Kids

All areas of the festival are open for children to enjoy the music, color, spirit and activities of the weekend celebration. Special family fun activities include the costumed Mardi Gras parades, outrageous hat-making with the Rad Hatter and colorful face painting.


The market area offers a curated selection of retail vendors, featuring Mardi Gras-inspired goods and clothing, art, hand-made jewelry, dancing shoes and accessories.

Louisiana and Americana Music and Culture

On the intimate Bayou Grove Stage, visiting musicians tell of their personal journeys and the stories behind the heritage of their crafts.

Taste of Louisiana

Aspiring Southern chefs and home cooks can visit the Taste of Louisiana Food Pavilion, where Louisiana and local professional chefs will host instructional cooking demos and yummy tastings of classic Southern dishes. You won’t want to miss this sharing of the secrets of Southern cooking!
Tickets and information

Advance discounted tickets are on sale now. Thursday night concert tickets range in price from $35 to $95. Daily festival tickets range from $35 to $40. 3-day and 4-day passes are available for the deepest discounts. Children 17 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. Hosted Patron Passes are available for $120 per day (Saturday or Sunday) or $200 for both days. Find all festival, ticket, lodging, parking and free shuttle info at
Financial support for Gator By The Bay is provided in part by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement program. Additional support is provided by the Port of San Diego, Anheuser-Busch – Kona Brewery and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. The festival is supported in part by the State of Louisiana Office of Tourism, Lafayette Convention & Visitors Bureau and other regional tourism bureaus.

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San Diego’s ‘Gator By the Bay’ Music, Food and Crawfish Festival Returns for 17th Year