Buku Music & Art Project waves its freak flag high for 2018


Live artists paint at Buku Music & Art Project 2018. Proceeds from auctioned graffiti benefit local non-profits in New Orleans. Photo credit: aLive Coverage

Caleb Beck

With a lineup featuring big name artists and boasting authenticity, Buku Music & Art Project is preparing for what might be the biggest year yet for the eclectic riverside festival.

Taking place March 9 to March 10 at Mardi Gras World, the headliners for this year include Bassnectar, SZA, Migos, MGMT and A Day to Remember, a diverse mix of genres ranging from hip-hop to electronic to metalcore.

The festival embraces New Orleans Carnival culture by featuring street performers, live art installations and a bevy of musical styles and performances. Even at a glance, one can find a warehouse stage lined with Mardi Gras floats and vendors selling everything from crawfish beignets to jambalaya.

Taran Cornejo, marketing coordinator for Winter Circle Productions who hosts Buku, said that expanding the festival while keeping it vibrant and distinct is one of the main objectives for this year.

“I think Buku has done an incredible job of staying relevant while creating something completely unique. Some of these crossover bookings I really think changed the game this year, and is showing people that there is some really cool stuff out there,” Cornejo said.

Every year, Buku donates a portion of its proceeds to Upbeat Academy, a non-profit organization that provides underprivileged youth the opportunity to produce and perform the type of music they enjoy. The live graffiti art painted over the weekend is also auctioned off to benefit local organizations, like Animal Rescue New Orleans.

Jaimie Villar, music industry senior and marketing intern with Buku, said that the team sets itself apart by being a grass-roots group fully dedicated to the project.

“After working behind the scenes, I can say that everyone involved really loves and cares about what they’re doing. I’m so grateful to be surrounded by such talented people. I don’t think this festival could happen anywhere but New Orleans,” Villar said.

Cornejo said music fans deserve an exciting curated experience and that Buku provides a niche experience that’s in line with New Orleans’ open acceptance of exuberance and eccentricity.

“Aside from the lineup, Buku has its own culture, and there isn’t another fest out there right now doing what we are. Fans are over the days of regurgitated lineups and they deserve more. I’m ecstatic to experience Buku this year and I can’t wait to see people’s reactions,” Cornejo said.