Community Records throws seventh annual block party, will include more touring artists

Alec Schwartzman, Print Arcade Editor

Community Records will throw its seventh annual block party beginning noon Saturday at the historic Carver Theatre.

“It’s going to be a really awesome day of eclectic music from all over the country and the world,” Daniel “D-Ray” Ray, co-founder of Community Records said. “I suggest getting there as early as you can because you may not know all these bands, but they are all worth your time, trust me.”

The locally run label, which was founded by Ray and Greg Rodrigue, started the party to bring their favorite bands to New Orleans.

“We … just wanted to get our band, other local bands and bands that we liked to all come down to New Orleans and throw a really big show,” Rodrigue said.

When the pair first founded the block party, the label Community Records did not even exist yet. Since then, the party has become a celebration of the label and its founding values, connecting people and good music.

“The first year we did it we were just like, ‘alright we’ll do this once and then it’ll probably never happen again,’” Rodrigue said. “It was successful, so we did it again. It’s just become an annual thing.”

While in the past, the event has featured mainly local acts and a few touring bands. This year, the opposite is true. Of the 23 bands performing, 15 of them are currently touring.

“For the people that have been going years on end, I think they can sense a little bit of a different energy with it [this year],” Rodrigue said. “Specifically the headliner Screaming Females, from New Jersey, is one of our favorite bands.”

In addition to the increased presence from higher-profile bands, the concert will feature a heavy dosage of local talent signed to the record label including Donovan Wolfington and Caddywhompus. The latter will release an album Nov. 11 titled “Feathering A Nest.” The album has already received some rave critical reviews and has the pair excited about the label’s future. Despite now having released more than 50 records, the label will not stray from its roots any time soon.

“As far as the label from when it started to today, it has had the same goal since the beginning,” Rodrigue said. “The main goal is being a platform to spread music that we enjoy.”

Reaching beyond musical boundaries, the block party will be hosted by Madonnathan. She will introduce the later headliners and provide exhilarating drag performances in between sets.

“[She] is a drag queen friend of ours,” Ray said. “She is an incredible human being and extremely talented at the art form that she does.”

Since the original venue of the first six years of the event, the Big Top, has since closed, this year’s affair will take place at the recently restored Carver Theatre, located in Treme. After searching through warehouse after warehouse and a failed deal with Tipitinas, Ray and Rodrigue seemed to be out of options that would cater to all ages, yet still have the ability to serve alcoholic beverages to those of age.

“On a whim, we went and checked [Carver Theatre] out one day and met the guy who runs it,” Ray said. “The place was pristine, especially compared to other places we play music in … I keep asking him ‘What’s the catch?’ and so far there hasn’t been one. It’s been incredible to work with him.”

The quasi-festival will feature music spanning nearly 12 hours. The event will have a flexible re-entry policy, allowing patrons to come and go as they please. Tulane’s own radio station, WTUL, will co-sponsor the event.

“We are really excited to work with our friends at Community Records again,” WTUL general manager Ben Samuels said. “WTUL is proud to play the best local and up-and-coming progressive music available, and are enamored with this showcase of talent. The Block Party is a can’t-miss event.” 

On top of the lineup of music and food from Mid City Pizza and Vegan Steve, the label heads claim to have a few surprises planned.

“Honestly, the few things that we do have in store, I want to be a surprise [laughs],” Rodrigue said. “Anything that has been promoted so far, we are really excited about. And then we got a couple little things that you’re just going to have to be there to see it. And it’s going to be awesome.”