Baton Rouge was one of the first, if not the first, city to hold a blues festival in the nation, says Maxine Crump, one the founders of the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, although the event was allowed to die in the mid-1990s. The Baton Rouge Blues Festival was revived in 2008, and this year was the biggest so far, organizers say, with about 4,000 to 5,000 people attending. But while Mississippi has been successful attracting tourists to its blues heritage sites with its Blues Trail, Baton Rouge has work to do if it wants to brand itself to the world as a blues town. Unfortunately, locals don't always appreciate what they have. "If your own people don't rock it—if they don't think of it as theirs—you're not going to be able to sell it elsewhere," Crump says. Part of that process is getting over the racial divide, she says; Crump beamed as she recalled the diverse crowd attracted by this year's Blues Festival...
Along with slightly lower ticket sales for Bayou Country Superfest this year came lower hotel occupancies in the Baton Rouge area during the festival weekend. Occupancy rates on Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend—the biggest night of the two-day event—were down about 4% compared to last year, according to new figures from Smith Travel Research provided by Visit Baton Rouge. Overall hotel revenue on Saturday was also down 2.5% from last year, but was still up 236% compared to 2009—the year before the festival began. "It's phenomenal in comparison," says Renee Areng, executive vice president of Visit Baton Rouge. "To even be this small of a decrease is incredible, when you go back to the baseline of 2009." Revenue per available room, or profit, was also down 4% compared to last year, Areng says, but up 200% compared to 2009. Nearly 70,000 people descended on Tiger Stadium for Bayou Country Superfest this year, but the crowds weren't robust enough to keep pace with...
Martin Flanagan leans for a moment on the open door of the home he helped to design and build, shielding his flickering flame from the unseasonably cool breeze as he touches it to a new cigarette. His Stetson straw hat obscures the gray ponytail that neatly falls below the collar of his button-down shirt. As he pauses, the visitor can tell that what comes next will be a long story, a hard-to-believe story, a story worth hearing.
When she was 19 she bought a guitar. It wasn't until three years ago, however, that Pamela Tusa actually played it. And she did more than that—forming a band and performing her first concert in just three days' time at a songwriter's workshop in Atlanta. The instruction and encouragement Tusa received there gave her the confidence she needed to pursue her passion for music.
"Stare at the Sun"ELEANOR FRIEDBERGERA successful summer song must be perfect for one of two things: driving fast or lounging slow. If the sun is mentioned, the success rate, um, skyrockets. This propulsive, jingle-jangle burner from the Fiery Furnaces singer's latest solo outing, Personal Record, due June 4, is heliocentric enough for a decade of summers, and so catchy you'll be humming it well into fall.
As owner and director of programs for Baton Rouge Music Studios, Doug Gay has been a mentor, bandleader, teacher and creative sage to hundreds of local teens and budding musicians. He shares with 225 his thoughts on the importance of positive influence.
What started as a small festival on Grand Isle to support fishermen after the BP oil spill has turned into a much bigger festival in Baton Rouge with an even bigger message.
Take a look at any of the end-of-year lists for best albums of 2012, and you'll see Kendrick Lamar's name near the top. From Rolling Stone to SPIN and even NPR, Lamar's Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City made appearances, in big part due to his narrative rap style and tracks like "Backseat Freestyle" and "Swimming Pools (Drank)." He comes to Baton Rouge via the Governors Ball in New York City. At 25 and with only two full albums under his belt, he's already a headliner at multiple festivals this summer, so his show at the Baton Rouge River Center June 10 is sure to draw a crowd. brrivercenter.com
WHYR hosts it annual festival fundraiser this weekend, showing that local music is alive and well in Baton Rouge. The Saturday event kicks off at noon with music at North Boulevard Town Square, featuring performances from Righteous Buddha, Michael Foster Project, Denton Hatcher, Stagecoach Bandits, Rondo Hatton, Secret Annexe, Marcel P. Black and more. Though admission is free, merchandise will be available and the local radio station will be accepting donations to reach its fundraising goal. For more information on the event, visit whyr.org. For a complete list of this week's shows, click here.
Creative Louisiana, a free monthly morning meet-up for creatives, will host its May discussion Friday at 8:30 a.m. Maxine Crump, one of the founding members of the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, will discuss how the city birthed the blues and the artists and audiences who made the music genre a part of the city's rich fabric. The talk will be at Glassell Gallery, where the exhibit, "Raining in My Heart: Baton Rouge Blues Project," is currently on display. For more information, click here.
Occupancy rates at local hotels over Memorial Day weekend have been skyrocketing over the past few years due to Bayou Country Superfest, which is set for Saturday and Sunday of the upcoming holiday weekend. Last year's Memorial weekend occupancy rate for Saturday jumped to 94% from 61% in 2009—the year before the country music festival began—according to a study by Smith Travel Research, which calculated rates using the entire Capital Region. Those healthy numbers are expected to continue with this year's festival, but a local tourism official says the upward trajectory should start to level off. "There's not a lot of room for growth," says Renee Areng, executive vice president of Visit Baton Rouge. "If we were to venture to do just the parish of Baton Rouge, I would speculate (occupancy) will be close to 100 percent." With country acts such as Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert, the annual event at Tiger Stadium is changing the way area fans of country music...
We all know where Louisiana country music fans will be this weekend. Bayou Country Superfest kicks off two days of live music in LSU's Tiger Stadium on Saturday. This year's performers include Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Darius Rucker on Saturday; and Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan and The Band Perry on Sunday. The event also provides a free Fan Fest stage outside the stadium, which will feature performances from Yvette Landry, Jaryd Lane and The Parish, among others. For more festival details, ticket information and sound clips from a few bands set to play here this weekend, read a 225 story here. Also, check out 225 Editor Jeff Roedel's interview with Miranda Lambert here. And if you're going to Bayou Country Superfest, feel free to submit your videos to 225
We all know where Louisiana country fans will be this weekend—Bayou Country Superfest kicks off Saturday in LSU's Tiger Stadium with two days of live music. Among this year's performers are Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Darius Rucker on Saturday; and the Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan and The Band Perry on Sunday. The event also includes the free Fan Fest stage outside the stadium, which includes performances from Yvette Landry, Jaryd Lane and The Parish and others. For more information on tickets, who you can't miss and to hear a few bands playing this year, read 225's article here. Also, check out Jeff Roedel's interview with Miranda Lambert here.
"You guys having an exciting time at this folk rock show?" Josh Tillman, a.k.a. Father John Misty, snickered last night in between songs at his One Eyed Jacks' performance.
Sunday evening at Mud and Water (Map it!) promises to be a rocking time, thanks to a stacked bill of local bands including Circa Amore, Cattle Drive, Baby Boy and The Melters. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper and Gulf Restoration Network. Raffles and prize drawings will also be held. Doors open at 7 p.m. Cover is $5. For a complete list of this week's shows, click here.
Indie rock fans should check out Of Montreal's performance Sunday at The Varsity. The prolific Athens, Ga., band has been around for more than 15 years, releasing its heady mix of dance-rock tunes. This year, the band will release its 11th studio full-length, Lousy with Sylvanbriar. Lead singer Kevin Barnes says the album is influenced by the poetry of Sylvia Plath and the music of The Grateful Dead—so that should be interesting. Doors open Sunday at 7 p.m.; the show starts at 8 p.m. Wild Moccasins will open. Tickets are $17 and available online. For a complete list of this week's shows, click here.
Since 2003, the Slim Harpo Music Awards have recognized those Louisiana greats who have taken blues to an entirely different level across the country and globe. This year's awards ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Manship Theatre, with honorees including Warren Storm, Harvey Knox, "Guitar Gable" Perrodin, Jockey Etienne and blues ambassador and producer David Kearns. Tickets are $35, and proceeds benefit the Music in the Schools outreach program.
Perhaps one of the biggest Broadway surprises of the past decade, Rock of Ages, is coming to Baton Rouge. Featuring of-the-era hit songs, Rock of Ages tells the story of a young rock 'n' roller in the '80s who wants to make something more of his life. Some of the choice music cuts include "Nothin' But a Good Time," "We Built This City," "Can't Fight This Feeling" and "Any Way You Want It." The touring production starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the River Center. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.
“Let Me Move You”JIMI HENDRIXNew collection People, Hell & Angels provides a different take on Hendrix's brilliance through experimental recordings and previously unreleased studio material. The energetic “Let Me Move You,” with sax and vocals by the legendary Lonnie Youngblood, is a lively gem full of the R&B funk and wah-wah sounds that blues fans are sure to enjoy.
The erratic, psychedelic and weirdly funky music of indie pop ensemble Of Montreal will fill the Varsity early this month. The band, building on more than a decade of wild performances and music, has been on tour supporting 2012's Paralytic Stalks, an album of new music, and Daughter of Cloud, a compilation of unreleased and rare tracks. They stop in Baton Rouge May 5 with Wild Moccasins as the opening act. varsitytheatre.com
Local singer-songwriter Peter Simón is perhaps best known for his talents on the guitar. Yet, for all his proficiency on that instrument, he actually grew up playing something else.
The daughter of East Texas private detectives, Miranda Lambert was taught from an early age how to handle a gun. At 29, she still hunts deer in season.
A typical Sunday morning at church may include fellowship, a sermon and prayer, and that's pretty much what you'll find at Haven Church on the Sabbath Day. But on Fridays and Saturdays, you'll more likely find secular-leaning local art and musicians, and quite possibly a bottle of whiskey—because Haven is far from your typical church.
Better Than Ezra's Kevin Griffin gives 225 his advice on the best car songs for this summer.
Oscar winner The Artist introduced a whole new generation to silent cinema in 2011.
jodijamesmusic.com"I just bought Josh Ritter's new record, The Beast In Its Tracks. He's brilliant, as always. Word on the Nashville street—I'll be move there soon—is that Johnny Depp is living there and working on a project with Jack White, and I'm definitely interested in whatever comes of that collaboration."
Upstairs at a warehouse on Main Street near downtown, artist Raina Wirta is standing atop a very tall ladder, adjusting the lighting above a giant, furry (yes, furry) dome-like structure that hangs from the ceiling. The LSU MFA candidate unveiled her exhibition “(un)familiar” to a crowd last Friday. Earlier that week, she was busy putting together the finishing touches.
Opera fans won't want to miss the LSU School of Music performance of Peter Brook's critically acclaimed Impressions de Pelléas this weekend at the Shaver Theatre. The show ventures into the world of impressionism with music from Claude Debussy as the mysterious backdrop. Show times are Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20. Discounts are available for students and seniors. For more information, click here.
Celebrate swamp blues in its birthplace at the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, taking place downtown Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The festival features performances across two stages as well as backstage interviews inside the Old State Capitol. Headlining this year's festival is Bobby Rush, while Robert Randolph & The Family Band, C.C. Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis, Henry Gray and many more will also perform. The festival is free and open to the public. You can find complete details, including a full lineup and schedule, here. There are a number of other blues-centric events happening Friday and throughout the weekend. Find out about them and other local events in the new 225 Weekender e-newsletter here.
Celebrate the weekend in the birthplace of the swamp blues with the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday. The event features performances across two stages and backstage interviews inside the Old State Capitol. This year's performers include C.C. Adcock & The Lafayette Marquis, Henry Gray and guests, Robert Randolph & The Family Band and many more. The festival is free and open to the public. For more information, including a full lineup and schedule, visit batonrougebluesfestival.org.
Fresh off the release of its third full-length album, Heza, Generationals will perform Thursday night at Mud and Water, 174 South Blvd. The band's new album has been called a step forward as the duo continues to develop its '80s-obsessed, intimate pop-rock. Check out Benjamin Leger's article on the band and its new album here. Baton Rouge band England in 1819 will open the show. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. For a full list of shows happening this week, click here.
This weekend marks the beginning of a transformation on Government Street with the Better Block BR project. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on the two blocks between Bedford and Beverly drives, residents will get to see a model of what Government Street could look like if we push local and state officials to update the roadway to a safer, more “complete street” model.
Blues and folk by way of New Orleans' own Andrew Duhon will land at the Mud and Water stage Saturday. Duhon will perform selections from his new album, The Moorings for a CD release party. Denton Hatcher will open the show. Performances start at 10 p.m. Cover is $6.
Soul'd Out Sundays will showcase "The Connoisseur of Fine Rhyme" Slangston Hughes, 7 p.m. this Sunday at Gallery Bohemia, 3774 Government St. DJ Automatik will provide backing sounds. If you're a fan of good hip-hop, you won't want to miss this show. Admission is $5.
In preparation for next weekend's big dance, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival will host a listening party at Radio Bar Thursday, 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Leah Smith of WBRH will get you familiar with all the acts performing at the April 13 festival. You can also mingle with fellow blues enthusiasts and bid on portraits by artist TJ Black. Admission is free. Radio Bar will be offering drink specials throughout the night to benefit the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation. For more information, click here.
Grab a picnic blanket Sunday and head downtown for a live music experience like no other. The Sunday in the Park series returns this weekend, with the '70s soul, funk and R&B fusion band Space Capone. Bring family and friends to enjoy this uniquely Baton Rouge way to kick back under oak trees on the Town Square lawn. This week's concert is slated for noon-2 p.m., and kicks off the final day of FestForAll. For more information, click here.
What do you get when you mix piano with infectious energy and Louisiana style? OK, that's a really broad question, but you might find Lindsay Rae Spurlock—a talented singer-songwriter who has garnered praise for her pop tunes. Spurlock will perform at Chelsea's Cafe Friday at 10:30 p.m. For more information and to listen to Spurlock's acclaimed release Heart On, visit her website.
The Capital City's premier—and free—outdoor concert series is back this Friday with a performance from New Orleans' funk band Phunkey Monkeys. The concert takes place in the renovated Repentance Park, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Check out the full schedule here.
Baton Rouge's own Henry Gray is a living legend in every sense of the phrase. Over the course seven decades behind the piano, Gray has performed with some of the greatest blues players ever to walk the face of the planet, guys like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Little Walter to name just a few.
Nostalgia is overrated, expensive, and hard on the senses.
"Catchy" is a word often used to describe Generationals' music.
“Tap Out” THE STROKESDo the roles of elder statesmen fit this NYC five-piece as well as their once-iconic Chuck Taylors and skinny ties? On the band's fifth album Comedown Machine, the scruffy rockers, now in their 30s, use this lead track to show they're still masters of taking vintage sounds—in this case an Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson groove—and blasting them into the future.
Composer and digital media artist Nick Hwang, one of 225's People to Watch in 2012, is bringing something different to this year's Blues Festival. And by different, we mean lasers.
The baton rouge blues festival takes over downtown this month with a hefty lineup that will permeate the Galvez Plaza area with plenty of guitar licks and grooves honoring our local musical heritage. Festival chair Chris Brooks says 2012's event was a banner year with thousands in attendance, and organizers are continuing to expand the offerings to make it a premier festival in the South. “Lafayette has zydeco, New Orleans has jazz, but here in Baton Rouge, we can hang our hat on swamp blues,” Brooks says. Here's what you should know about the Baton Rouge Blues Festival:
Choices, choices, choices. Louisiana's music gods always leave us with a conundrum once our Baton Rouge spring music events are done, with the choice between traveling to Lafayette for Festival International de Louisiane or to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
When this year's Baton Rouge Blues Festival headliner, Louisiana native Bobby Rush, and his top-notch band commandeer the stage Saturday evening, you can expect to witness a blues performance unlike anything you've ever seen. His is an act best described in polite terms by his February citation for the 2013 Mississippi Governor's Award for Excellence: “For over five decades, Bobby Rush has been thrilling audiences around the world with his bawdy, entertaining, flamboyant, and stellar showmanship.”
You know that guitar lick, even if you don't know Dick Dale.
Fans of the songs of Tin Pan Alley won't want to miss Ray Book Binder's intimate performance at Red Dragon Listening Room this Saturday night. In his career, Book Binder has crafted an eclectic repertoire full of blues, folk and bluegrass classics. Steve Judice will open Saturday’s show, which starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. For more information, click here.
The everyday hustler and platinum rapper Rick Ross will perform at the River Center Saturday night. The Red Stick stop is a part of Ross' tour behind his 2012 album, God Forgives, I Don't, which shot to the top of the Billboard charts, selling more than 215,000 copies in its first week. The show starts at 7 p.m. Rapper Plies is the opening entertainment, along with a host of others. Tickets start at $62. For more information, click here.
When discussing Henry Gray, it's probably best to note that the Baton Rouge blues legend is one of the original components of the Chess Records sound. Born just north of Baton Rouge, Gray has played piano live and in session with nearly every popular blues figure—Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Elmore James, to name a few. "At 88 years old, he's still killing it," Gray’s manager Alan Abrahams says. This Wednesday, the piano man will take the stage at Mud and Water for an initial month-long residency at the downtown venue. Each Wednesday, Gray will perform an hour-long set with his band, starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6. Abrahams says if the residency consistently brings a good crowd and nice vibe, it could continue and may include a live album recording.
The one and only Sir Elton John returns to the Red Stick with his band this Friday night for a performance at the River Center. The performance is John's first in Baton Rouge in 20 years, and the show is guaranteed to be packed. John is the voice and talent behind some big songs, including "Tiny Dancer," "Rocket Man," "Bennie and the Jets" and many more. Though he hasn't released any new material in about three years, he always puts on an electric live show. Friday's show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $47 and available here.
The LSU Philharmonia will present its last concert of the season Wednesday with another entry in the LSU Symphony Orchestra’s Beethoven Festival. The concert will feature finalists in the LSU School of Music's Concerto Competition as well as the orchestra performing Beethoven's famed Symphony No. 4 in B flat major as well as pieces from Samuel Stokes, Serge Prokoflev and Lowell Libermann. The event takes place in the new Tiger Band Hall near Aster Street and Highland Road. Tickets are $10. For more information, click here.
Brooke Waggoner never set out to be a hired gun. However, plans changed when former White Stripes frontman and rock-n-roller Jack White came calling. In her musical career, the LSU graduate has crafted fine solo albums as well as provided quite the canvas for White's latest solo album, Blunderbuss. Throughout 2012, White took Waggoner on the road, touring London, Barcelona and Zurich. At the same time, she was sitting on her own gem. On Waggoner's latest album, Originator, released this month, the singer-songwriter is experimenting with a leaner sound and more straightforward lyrics, while retaining the clever turns fans have come to expect. The release has caught the attention of critics, too, garnering acclaim from Rolling Stone and Paste, thanks to songs like "Rumble" and "Ink Slinger." Check out 225 Editor Jeff Roedel's complete interview with Waggoner and story on her recent adventures from the latest issue of 225
What does music have to do with fitness you ask? Well, as I was sitting here listening to some morning tunes, I was pondering playlists and songs I like to run to. Whether used to motivate or to distract us from the pain, music is a big piece to most peoples workout routines.
Just as the Twilight film franchise ends, another new slate of films based on Stephenie Meyer's books is coming.
The Gas Food and Lodging Festival has hit stride over the past week at three local music venues. The festival, which encompasses more than 30 different artists stopping in Baton Rouge on their way to or from the annual South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Conference in Austin, began on March 8th and continues throughout the next week.
In the blaze of summer, with hands calloused from pulling cotton from the boll, the Guy children would crawl beneath the floor planks of the shack where the dirt was cool, lie flat on their backs in the dark and dream. To describe Sam and Isabell Guy's home in Lettsworth, Louisiana—a village about an hour from Baton Rouge, just northwest of St. Francisville—it is easier to list what it lacked than what it had: plumbing, running water, electricity and meat—other than a little pork shared with the neighbors every Christmas. Like his brothers and sisters, George “Buddy” Guy didn't have much as a child in the 1940s, but what he craved more than a water faucet or an electric lamp or a belly filled with pork was a guitar, a mystical machine to tap the music he felt running in his veins and spill it out like syrup. One day, young Buddy stripped a few wires from his mother's new wooden window screens and strung them tightly across tin cans. That homemade...
Baton Rouge is one of the perfect pit stops for touring bands looking to make a splash at the annual South-by-Southwest festival in Austin.
Baton Rouge's own pop princess Brooke Waggoner will perform at the Spanish Moon Sunday with BRAIDS and Snowmine. Waggoner has had a busy couple of years, thanks to playing right-hand-woman to Jack White on his recent solo album, Blunderbuss. On Tuesday, Waggoner released her very own solo album, Originator. 225's Jeff Roedel caught up with Waggoner in this month's issue. Check out the article and interview here. Doors open for Sunday's show at 8 p.m. Show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. For more information, visit thespanishmoon.com
The legendary New Orleans rock trio Dash Rip Rock returns to Baton Rouge this Thursday for a live performance at Mud and Water. Last November, the band released a new disc, titled Black Liquor, to critical acclaim. Local rockers The Rigs will open the show. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7. The show is 18 and older. For more information, visit facebook.com/MudAndWater.
Arguably Carencro's finest singer-songwriter, Marc Broussard visits the Manship Theatre this Friday night with a little help from New Orleans' own Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The two acts will team up for a night of music that's been described as "bayou soul." The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $55. For more information, visit manshiptheatre.org.
Musician, Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge has long been recognized as a cultural hotbed of blues music. The area boasts a laundry list of widely respected and renowned artists as native sons—Buddy Guy, the subject of our cover story, and Chris Thomas King, featured on the previous pages, among them. In recent years, the torch for live local blues has been carried by several dedicated venues like Phil Brady’s and Teddy’s Juke Joint in Zachary, which maintains a devoted customer base despite being off the commercial beaten path. Yet with the growth of nightlife in the city, the blues have been somewhat underrepresented.
Sure, spring is around the corner, but that doesn't mean you can't hang on to the wistful sadness of winter a little longer—by way of the frontrunners of the “slowcore” movement, Low. The band, led by husband-and-wife team Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, perfected the delicate, slow-burn soundscapes and vocal melodies of the sub-genre with albums like Things We Lost in the Fire in 2001 and constant play of tracks like “Dinosaur Act” and “Sunflower” on college radio (KLSU included).
Growing up surrounded by many Louisiana blues legends and avid blues fans who frequented Tabby’s Blues Box and Heritage Hall—a Baton Rouge mecca for south Louisiana swamp blues run for a quarter-century by his illustrious father, “Rockin’” Tabby Thomas—bluesman Chris Thomas King quite naturally began his music career in open rebellion. He was determined to change and update the sound of Louisiana music traditions that he’d inherited. Crowning a recording career that kicked off in the mid-1980s, the young musical prodigy released 21st Century Blues … From Da Hood in 1995, a milestone recording that combined sampling, rap and hip-hop rhythms with searing electric blues licks to create the first fully realized blues concept album of the electronic era.
It's been about 20 years since elton john last played in Baton Rouge, to a crowd at LSU in 1993 with longtime collaborator Ray Cooper. While he's stopped in Louisiana many times throughout his legendary career, John's only other Baton Rouge stops have been at LSU (in 1972 and with Kiki Dee in 1974). For his first performance at the River Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will bring along his top-notch band, which includes Cooper, Nigel Olsson and others. The March 29 show starts at 8 p.m., and unless the show is sold out by the time you're reading this, get tickets at brrivercenter.com.
Like oil or crawfish or Mardi Gras, the blues in Louisiana seems less a product of our own manufacturing and more like a natural resource carried by weary feet stomping on dusty floorboards, mighty hands bending time-weathered strings, venerable voices howling down the hallways of memory.
In the blaze of summer, with hands calloused from pulling cotton from the boll, the children would crawl beneath the floor planks of the shack where the dirt was cool, lie flat on their backs in the dark and dream.
Based on months of interviews conducted by ghostwriter David Ritz with Guy at his Chicago club Legends, When I Left Home: My Story is Guy's official autobiography, a wondrous tale of spectacles, dreams and the blues bled for and earned.
On Guy’s first release with Vanguard Records, he steps out from his creative constraints as a session player at Chess Records and delivers an all-time blues masterpiece. On the moody slow-burner “One Room Country Shack,” Guy and pianist Otis Spann are at their collaborative finest. B.B. King’s influence is evident, too, especially on “Sweet Little Angel,” an old blues standard popularized by King in 1956.
She never set out to be a hired gun.
If it seems like I've been devoting an inordinate amount of airtime to shows at Mud & Water in this space, it's because they have been aggressively booking and announcing great new live acts every week, and generally putting on a clinic on how to assemble a diverse live music calender saturated with top tier talent, be it nationally touring bands or deserving local artists.
The Manship Theatre will host legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker on March 2nd. Parker serves as the missing link between some of the greatest funk, soul and jazz artists of the 20th century, having served as the backbone of both James Brown's famous band and George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic.
It's an evening of romance at the River Center, as "King of R&B" R. Kelly takes the stage for a Valentine's Day show tonight at 8. Kelly, known for his smooth voice and massive library of hit singles, will make it a night to remember. Tickets are $50-$60 at brrivercenter.com. No time to book tickets? Never fear, as the "Empress of Soul" and seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight performs at L'Auberge Casino & Hotel Saturday at 8 p.m. A living legend from the Motown era and a successful solo artist, she'll perform hits both new and old as puts everyone in motion. Tickets are $50-$60 at ticketmaster.com. For more entertainment in and around the Capital City, read 225 Weekender by clicking here.
The legendary Diana Ross is set to perform with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra for its 10th anniversary celebration Feb. 8—a show that sold out in just a few short weeks. We asked a few locals to share their favorite tunes from Ms. Ross' career:
The first annual Mud & Water Mardi Gras ball happens this Friday night (2/8) and will feature Los Angeles ska/punk/funk legends Fishbone, a band whose party ethic and epic horn section make them much more suited to lead a Mardi Gras celebration than it would seem at first glance.
Last year playing for at a festival in front of 30,000 in Stockton, Calif.
My favorite place to perform, hands down, is definitely Tokyo. I love how my fans over there are always so hype at live shows. Their energy is amazing. In general, I love how supportive that region is to new artists.
For me, Thomas, West Virginia—population about 400. I love playing in the smaller towns. There's an intimacy that's really hard to achieve in big cities and venues. It seemed like the whole town was excited to have us. On the way there, we were thinking, "What are we getting ourselves in to?" We weren't sure how it was going to go over. It was awesome, and those pleasant surprises are part of what makes touring so exciting.
My favorite place to go is Jackson, Miss. They are very receptive to my live show and music, and I feel at home there.
Every place has something different to offer. For instance, in Austin, we have favorite tacos or food trucks. Plus we got to play the Parish on Sixth Street, which is a great-sounding venue. In Davis, Calif., home of our label Crossbill Records, we ate delicious Thai food at Sophia's Thai Kitchen. We also played a bunch of in-stores in L.A., Sacramento and Davis, which feeds my vinyl habit. Portland and Seattle are always great to play because we have a bunch of friends and L.A. transplants out there, so we always get to see those smiling faces when we get out there. But when it comes down to it, Iowa has some of our favorite cities to play. Des Moines, Ames and Iowa City all have rabid rock fans that you can't find in most places.
Or “flamingo blood,” as the krewe responsible for the Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade calls it. The annual painting of the flamingos, before they pop up in lakes and yards around town, is usually confined to a warehouse on Government Street. But with 400 large flamingos (about six feet tall) and 800 smaller ones this year—the largest flock in parade history—the project spilled out onto an empty lot in Mid City last month. Organizer Bill Brumfield says the process has gotten more streamlined over the years, with board members and friends volunteering throughout the day. When and where the flamingos end up remains a secret, though a flock has already congregated at City Park lake. The Spanish Town parade is set to roll downtown Saturday, Feb. 9. spanishtownmardigras.com—Benjamin Leger
The great highland bagpipe plays only eight notes. No sharps. No flats.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans can be exhausting. First, you have to search for a parking spot, then find a place to watch the parades without annoying the nearby revelers who marked off their spot two weeks ago, then seek out a place to get a decent drink without a line—and let's not forget bathrooms!
What better way to spend valentine’s day with your loved one than at an R. Kelly concert? (And we’re only half joking about that.) Comedian Aziz Ansari described one R. Kelly show as the best concert he’d ever been to, for reasons we can’t publish here. The man behind many, many chapters of the song/video cycle Trapped in the Closet, hits like “Ignition (Remix)” and “I Believe I Can Fly”—the only thing that aged well about Space Jam—brings his R&B showmanship to the Baton Rouge River Center Feb. 14. brrivercenter.com
One of Baton Rouge's more hidden gems is roots and country music fanatic Chris Maxwell's Red Dragon Listening Room, a not-for-profit venue on Florida Boulevard that regularly books high-profile singer-songwriters like Chuck Brodsky, Guy Clark and David Egan.
For many a dreamer, the thought of life on the road as a musician conjures romantic images of strumming a guitar while gazing out the window of a rambling tour bus or of endless nights of after-parties. For the Louisiana-bred bands and musicians featured here, life on the road is just another aspect of the job—lugging sound equipment from one venue to the next, driving, sleeping on couches (or even at the venue itself) and more driving while trying to reach a wider audience outside the comfort of home. They've traveled the East and West coasts and even toured internationally. So we asked these South Louisiana musicians to share their adventures through photos and their own words.
When I went to the much celebrated Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island back in 2008, I had heard plenty of My Morning Jacket, but they hadn't totally grabbed me yet. I had started to get into the band's then recent release Evil Urges in the weeks leading up to the festival, but with a perennially stacked lineup of performers, I casually overlooked their frontman Jim James performing a solo set as a compelling point of interest on the schedule. While shuttling through dense human traffic between performances on different stages, I heard music begin playing nearby on a smaller stage that the main pedestrian thoroughfare passed. In the next thirty seconds or so it became clear that something strange was happening there, and the crowd, moving previously like white water rapids, slowed to a mountain creek trickle and then froze solid.
Mud and Water, one of the newest additions to the downtown nightlife lineup, opened to the public in October after a short tracked renovation and has seen good turnout even before ramping up it's live music schedule recently. With 2013 in full swing, the venue has begun to book more and book bigger, and fans of live music are starting to reap the rewards.
The Surreal Salon Soiree at Baton Rouge Gallery returns next weekend with a huge event you can read about here. Leading up to the annual party, the artwork for the juried show has been on view in the gallery all month and is worth a visit before the gallery is overrun with costumed revelers.
Cox cable subscribers in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette will soon be able to see and hear the stories behind the music come to life with many of the unique and indigenous artists from around the state as well as frequent visitors to Louisiana from throughout the Deep South. Local producer and director Johnny Palazotto is bringing the new documentary-style series Louisiana's Rhythm Nation to Cox 4 starting in March. The show will feature interviews and performances from icons such as Irma Thomas, Johnny Rivers and Henry Gray to acclaimed younger artists like Theresa Andersson, Chris Thomas King and more. "It is exciting to have been able to sit with these artists and hear their stories," Palazotto says. "I don't think this has been done before, at least to my knowledge. Hearing their stories is priceless." Louisiana's Rhythm Nation will air 14 episodes in its first season and feature two artists per episode. For more details, visit the show's website
I think year-end lists are a double edged sword; they are great for sparking discussion between fans of different bands, which sometimes forces people to broaden their horizons in light of a compelling argument, and what better way to be human than to broaden your horizons? Year end lists force people to make themselves transparent, to display their particular tastes for all to see, and invites scrutiny from those who have a different relationship to a particular album or artist.
A new blues bar is slated to open before the end of the month in downtown Baton Rouge. The Blues Room will be on Lafayette Street in the former home of Tabby’s Blues Box and, years before that, the Rathskeller. "Baton Rouge is very well known for having a lot of young musicians, particularly blues musicians," says owner Billy Stevens. "It’s going to give them a venue to play, and those guys will play inexpensively. … I think downtown is the perfect place for that. It’s kind of an eclectic crowd already." Stevens is also hoping to host some of the area’s internationally known veteran blues artists. Stevens is shooting for a Jan. 25 opening and plans for the bar to be open seven nights a week, with live music as often as possible, and to serve a limited menu of bar food. –David Jacobs
The girl and a piano formula, in the hands of Rebecca Roubion, takes a fresh direction with her new EP, FIELDS. For one thing, Roubion's got a crystal-clear, controlled voice that could be mistaken for the crooning harmonies of Swedish duo First Aid Kit. For another, her piano skills give a slight nod to the Louisiana jazz this LSU grad grew up around. And yet another, the four tracks on this airy, moderate-tempo EP are each wrapped in a different bow—from the Randy Newman-style jazz romp of “Vacherie Girl,” to the swelling strings of big-voiced torch song “Here Lies My Pulse,” to the final chorus of “Doorway,” which fades out like the last slow dance at the sock hop. Her Nashville-based production team manages to tie it all together with a sharp sound that still feels organic. The standout is the short opening track, “Love Me Now,” driven by her bass lines on the piano and a galloping rhythm as she sings “You want...
When Grace Babineaux, 14, and her sister Julie, 12, were asked last summer to contribute to the fall release En Français: Cajun 'n' Creole Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 2—a compilation of mainstream rock classics translated into Cajun and Creole French and Cajun/Creole music styles—the girls decided almost immediately on Bob Dylan's “All Along the Watchtower” and Bob Marley's “Three Little Birds.” But it wasn't enough to simply translate the songs into Cajun French. Instead, they turned to their maternal grandfather, who lives in Forked Island (pronounced “Fork-ed”) southwest of Abbeville that until 1975 was separated from the North Country by the Intracoastal Waterway. This isolation kept the town's residents hanging on to a less-modernized form of spoken Cajun French and culture.
My True Story was supposed to be Aaron Neville’s “doo-wop” project, a loving tribute to the music that made its deepest imprint in Neville’s musical consciousness. But by the time it was ready for release, it had become a tribute to some of rock’s best-known early classics and some more-obscure R&B hits, all lovingly recreated by an A-list studio band, a handful of backup vocalists from the doo-wop era and a lead vocalist so enthralled by the material that he held back the flourishes and vocal acrobatics for which he has become so well known.
January is apparently the month of legendary musicians in Baton Rouge, leading off with Willie Nelson & Family at the Varsity Theatre. The red-headed stranger has made the Varsity an annual stop in the last several years, playing for an adoring and intimate crowd. Last year was a busy one for Nelson: besides touring, releasing a studio album (Heroes) and a compilation of his recorded Christmas tunes (The Classic Christmas Album), the prolific musician also received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Country Music Awards and did the network talk show circuit promoting his new book, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die. Pushing 80 and still going strong, Nelson and family roll into Baton Rouge Jan. 22. varsitytheatre.com
He calls himself the illegitimate son of a legend, and just by the title of the track where he explains that story, “Hank's Illegitimate Son,” you can probably figure out the rest. Lineage aside, Martin Flanagan writes songs in that identifiable classic country style—songs about drowning your sorrows on a barstool and the memories of screen doors and Momma's cooking. His voice is gravely and twang-y, and has the most impact in the lower register, but sometimes lacks enough character to make a few takes seem more than casual read-throughs. Still, the stories he weaves can be surprisingly touching, like in the title track, where he lists off the memories that emerge when he reaches for his guitar, or crassly funny, like “Walter—The Walking Accident.” There is an easy pace to the songs, even those in the minor key, and Flanagan's acoustic guitar blends in nicely with the banjo, bass and shuffling drums. His backing band is about as good as it gets and...
We all know Timberlake, and of course we know Bieber, but now it's time to know the next Justin on the pop scene: Baton Rouge's own Justin Garner. The vibrant, Plaquemine-born professional pop star-in-the-making has been crafting his talent since 2004. Armed with a set of pipes, polished pop tracks in the vein of Usher via David Guetta and a marketing degree from Southern University, Garner has been able to launch himself into career-changing opportunities with MTV and other musical powerhouses. In April 2010, Garner was a featured artist on Myspace.com and from there was tapped by Sony/BMG/Japan to perform shows in Japan and the UK. While that may be a major feat for any independent artist, for Garner, it was only the beginning. This past May, iTunes Japan promoted the single “We Rule the Night” from Garner's I Am album (released in July), which prompted Amazon.com to name him one of the nine artists in its monthly Artists on the Rise spotlight—he was one of...
Lil' Band O' Gold, Louisiana's own dream team of homegrown Acadiana rock and roll legends makes a timely holiday return to the Manship Theatre this Wednesday for the Lil' Band O' Gold Christmas Pageant. The band, who I talked about in this space recently (click here to read the full post), plays out only semi-regularly and altogether not very often outside Lafayette/Lake Charles.