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Children's musician gets families moving at New Orleans JazChildren's musician gets families moving at New Orleans Jazz Fest
Published: Sunday, April 29, 2012, 1:04 PM Updated: Sunday, April 29, 2012, 5:40 PM
By Laura McKnight, The Times-Picayune
At the New Orleans Jazz Fest on Sunday afternoon, a pint-sized rhythm section and wiggling sets of backup dancers helped children's entertainer Johnette Downing entertain in the Kids Tent. The youngest festival-goers kept the beat with miniature tambourines, maracas, shakers and sticks, rattling and clicking their instruments in time to tunes about crawfish, alligators, worms and werewolves.
Parents joined their children in hopping across the dance floor like rabbits, snapping their hands like claws and smacking their arms together like hungry gators.
Downing, dubbed "Musical Ambassador to Children," warmed up a crowd of families with an upbeat set featuring fun parts of South Louisiana culture.
"Raise your hand if you like crawfish," Downing told the crowd Sunday afternoon. Tiny hands shot into the air.
The award-winning children's musician and author, accompanied by a harmonica player, performed songs influenced by zydeco, the blues, Cajun music and other signature sounds of her home state.
"Back it up, crawfish! Snap! Snap!" Downing sang as children and their parents shuffled backward and put their "claws" up.
"Who can shake their tail like a crawfish?" Downing asked.
Children and grownups responded by wiggling their behinds, doing the "Mudbug Boogie."
Later, a zydeco song got more families on the dance floor, with moms twirling daughters, dads spinning sons, brothers and sisters skipping to the cheerful beat, creating Jazz Fest memories.