Apr 12, 2024 - Music

DJ Captain Charles gets his French Quarter Fest debut

DJ Captain Charles performs while standing at a mixing board and looking at laptop.

DJ Captain Charles performs Jazz Fest in 2016. Photo: Josh Brasted/WireImage

DJ Captain Charles will make his French Quarter Fest debut Friday, but after making New Orleans parties move for more than 40 years, he's no newcomer either.

Why it matters: The fest debuts a DJ stage for the first time this year, filling it with new and old school performers who have long been an important part of the city's music scene.

The big picture: French Quarter Fest invited 25 DJs to perform at the new PosiGen Solar DJ Stage at Aquarium Plaza.

  • "We impact the club scene real big in New Orleans," Captain Charles tells Axios New Orleans of his fellow DJs.

Flashback: Captain Charles grew up in the Magnolia, according to Melissa Weber, aka DJ Soul Sister, in a piece she wrote for 64 Parishes.

  • With his sights set on the military, Captain Charles didn't plan to be a DJ. But by 1981 or 1982, he was filling air between sets for the Unique Pierre band, he told her.
  • Since then, he's played nearly every New Orleans stage, whether it was the 1984 World's Fair, Jazz Fest, weddings or on the air with local radio.

The intrigue: The music industry has changed a lot since Captain Charles started spinning records. But one thing remains true: A good DJ can make a hot record even hotter.

  • Rebirth Brass Band, for example, may have Captain Charles to thank for its breakout.
  • "Rebirth was big, but never big in the clubs," Captain Charles says. "If you played a second-line song, that was more or less the end of the party."
  • But Captain Charles was playing Rebirth's "Do Whatcha Wanna" in the middle of the party — and pretty soon, it was on rotation with Q93.

What he's saying: "I'm a crowd-pleaser," Captain Charles says.

  • "When I play a song, I want it to have an impact on the crowd. I want a reaction from the crowd. I don't just play music to play it. I play music that's going to make the crowd move."
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