By New Orleans standards, the Congo Square New World Rhythms Festival is relatively young, reaching its sixth year this month. But the music and culture that the two-day event celebrates made their way to the Gulf South region centuries ago.
Beginning in the 1700s, slaves and free people of color gathered in Congo Square in Armstrong Park on Sundays to trade goods and play music. It's where much of the city's early jazz, blues and gospel music was born, and the square will serve as the centerpiece of the free festival on March 23 and 24.
Cuban-born singer and drummer Pedrito Martinez and the Red Baraat rhythms band are among the festival's acts. An African drum circle and dance performances also will be featured.