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Craw Debauchery

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by Lorie Greenspan

Where y’at?
Everyone will be speaking, humming, and eating the experience of New Orleans during the CrawDebauchery Festival in April, which offers an authentic way to experience the Big Easy, from the gumbo to the music.
CrawDebauchery Food & Music Festival founder Don Mathews doesn’t just want you to attend his festival in April, featuring the tastes, culture and music of New Orleans. He wants you to imbibe in it.
For that reason, everyone should listen up:
Zydeco is a musical style that evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers, blending blues, rhythm and blues.
A krewe is an organization that puts on a parade or ball for the Carnival season.
The Raw Oyster Cult is comprised of members of The Radiators, inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame, and the premier New Orleans band.
What they all have in common is their involvement in the third annual CrawDebauchery Food & Music Festival, to take place April 2-3, at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater Field.
If you’re not entranced by the music, flavors and culture of New Orleans by the end of it, you weren’t paying attention. Because, as the name implies, if you allow yourself, you will debauch, overstuff, shamelessly get your fill of, be over the moon with, and totally imbibe, until you are pleasantly saturated with everything authentic to the Big Easy. F’sho.
“I started going home after Katrina and thought it would be great to share the culture, lifestyle and music with the people here,” remembers Matthews, a 20-year Fort Lauderdale resident who hails from New Orleans and who founded the festival. “Anyone who goes to New Orleans finds it magical and unique – you get involved in the music and food and every aspect of the life there. I wanted to bring as much of it here as possible.”
With a career spent booking acts in entertainment venues, Matthews said he thought the entertainment would be a big art of the festival’s details but was surprised to discover “it’s actually a small part.” The bigger picture, he says, is finding “very efficient people who are attentive to detail and committed to being authentic.”
He adds, “I was always a music fan and the New Orleans in me knows what’s good. Part of my drive is to expose people to the passion of the real culture, rather than offer something that’s manufactured. New Orleans is a blend of influences – French, Spanish, Cajun, Creole – we throw everything into a pot, blend cultures and styles, to make a unique mixture for people attending the festival. We don’t try to block out different cultures but take the best of everything.”
This year’s event will feature a Gumbo Rumble, similar to a chili cook-off, challenging people to enter their unique versions of the famous New Orleans stew. Matthews is also inspired to introduce the concept of the Krewes, those private societies that run the Mardi Gras and hold special parties and balls. “We will have a Krewe competition, as far as best booth, and we will also select a king and queen, similar to what they do for Mardi Gras,” he says. Cajun/Zydeco dancers also will perform and will give dance lessons at the festival.
Headlining the event is Galactic, one of the most famous bands in New Orleans, Matthews notes. Also performing is Raw Oyster Cult, whose founding members are members of The Radiators, a famous New Orleans band. “When people come to the festival who have never heard of the bands they say these are the best musicians they’ve ever seen. These bands are royalty in New Orleans,” Matthews says.
And what is a New Orleans event without authentic food? Festival food and beverage director Danny Stasi, better known as “Chef Staz,” founding chef and owner of Shuck ‘N Dive in Fort Lauderdale, notes that the diversity of dishes in New Orleans, consisting of every food group, from deep water to oceans to shallows to plains; African, Spanish, and Native American, will be a main highlight.
“The idea is to use ingredients from the soil in which you live,” he says. To that end, the festival, in which eight to 10 local restaurants will participate, will offer traditional dishes such as gumbo and jambalaya, with a goal of presenting all of Louisiana in terms of palate. For the event, two tons of crawfish will be flown in, he says, adding, “Louisiana is a mecca for crawfish.”
“We had over two thousand people show up at our first festival and then we increased attendance last year by quite a bit,” says Matthews. “That was the motivator to create a two-day event. We’re confident CrawDebauchery 2016 will be our best yet.”
He adds, “I want everyone to leave amazed at what a good time they had.”

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.CrawDebauchery.com.
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