Phoenix Underground blends a lively club atmosphere with the class of an upscale lounge. Strobe lights hit the floor as a DJ spins top 40 dance music and pool cues strike balls at artfully arranged tables. Waiters bring by bottles for those who don't want to take their eyes off the swirling bodies and VIP rooms provide a private location to wow friends with your collection of business cards.
Strange Days in the District sends guests meandering through the Red River District amid a carnival-inspired art and music extravaganza, enjoying local art, street performances, and live music and burlesque acts. Stretch spectator-legs at The New Orleans Bingo! Show, a multimedia musical game-show cabaret featuring dancers, aerialists, clowns, audience interaction, and a Brechtian cabaret band; indulge eyes in peripatetic aesthetics by visiting local artists' exhibits. Shenanigans continue with performances from Dirtfoot, an auditory conglomeration of gypsy, punk, and country music, plus the burlesque spectacles of the troupes Fleur De Tease and Bon Temps Burlesque. A rain or shine event, Strange Days in the District takes place entirely outdoors, so those attending best memorize the Farmer's Almanac moon record beforehand and pack a parasol if rain is prophesized.
Since 1984, Shreveport has paid tribute to a cherished Louisiana tradition—the crawfish boil—with its annual Mudbug Madness Festival. As many as 56,000 people flock each day to what has blossomed into one of the state’s most popular Cajun festivals, where they nosh on succulent seafood and compete in crawfish-eating contests that encourage participants to test their stomach size and sabotage their opponents by sneaking lobsters into their bowls. “One year, we had a man eat 42 pounds of crawfish in 30 minutes,” marvels festival coordinator Melanie. “We’ve cut it down to 15 minutes since then.” In addition to eating crustaceans, attendees can also lure them across the stage during crawdad-calling contests. “It gets really lively,” Melanie says, describing how the sirens-in-training are allowed to do nearly anything they can think of to entice the crawfish into their reach.
Cajun, zydeco, and jazz tunes waft through the air during the festivities, emanating from three stages helmed by headliners such as Wayne Toups, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr., Super Water Sympathy, and Windstorm. The rhythms reach the ears of shoppers browsing original artwork and handmade jewelry in the arts area, expanded after previous years' success. On Thursday, local athletes can work up an appetite in the 5K race. Children of all ages burn off energy in the kids' area, where they can somersault in the bounce house, tackle art projects, or plop down in front of a stage where magicians and storytellers keep their young minds off the uncertain fate of lollipop futures.
The Funny Bone has farmed laughs thanks to comedy heavyweights such as Cedric the Entertainer and Jamie Kennedy, as well as up-and-coming talents with fresh faces, fresh routines, and that fresh pine scent. Upcoming comics include Sam Demaris (Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28), the winner of the 2002 "Houston's Funniest Person" award. Couples looking to laugh off a first-date marriage proposal can cash in on the gut-wrenchingly honest observations of Comedy Central–featured Rodney Laney, whose Jersey-brewed stylings are finely tuned to tickle the giggleplex and pluck the shock-cartilage (Wednesday, July 13 and Thursday, July 14).
Two-time Grammy Award–winner Rita Coolidge brandishes her dulcet tones and musical pedigree to celebrate the Wonderland of Lights Festival's 25th anniversary with a collaborative holiday-music performance. Under the direction of Stephen L. Hayes, Assistant Professor and Director of Music at Wiley College, the school's a cappella choir blends its melodious harmonies with Rita Coolidge's lead vocalizations as they collectively croon Christmas standards, holiday classics, and famous ballads penned by prodigious reindeer. Marshall Visual Art Center welcomes up to 350 concert-goers in the venue's large, open room with twinkle lights dotting the ceiling at night and unemployed flashlights during eclipses.