Lafayette/Baton Rouge visit ground me a bit in the non-NOLA sounds of Gumbo YaYa

To mix it up on Gumbo YaYa, I often played music from acts from Baton Rouge and Lafayette. But until this week, I had barely passed through those towns. A musical evening in Lafayette and a quick blues festival stop in Baton Rouge began the process of remedying that experience gap.

Kim and I have been driving about a bit since the last show and we’ve caught music in Bend, Oregon (The Pinehearts), some stray live tunes in Moab, Utah and Santa Fe, and a hoedown at the Little Longhorn Saloon in Austin. But we hit the main music vein when we got to Lafayette.

Fingerpistols at The Little Longhorn Saloon, Austin, April 19, 2022

We caught a few bands downtown and at the Blue Moon Saloon but the big strike was the “Medicine Show” a showcase of student and faculty performances from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Traditional Music Program. The program was celebrating 25 years of providing guidance to young musicians in the history and practice of Cajun music, zydeco, bluegrass, blues and other root styles.

Accomplished students with famous last names such as “Benoit,” “Sonnier” and “Guidry” offered up songs such as “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane,” “Give Him Cornbread,” and “Zydeco Stomp.” In all, five distinct student groups took the stage led by some of the all-star cast of this amazing music program.

The faculty includes, among others, Nathan Williams Jr. of Lil Nathan and the Zydeco Big Timers, Chas Justus of the Revelers, Chad Huval with Beausoleil, Blake Miller of the Red Stick Ramblers and Pine Leaf Boys, Gina Forsyth solo fiddler/songwriter and Lee Allen Zeno who played with Buckwheat Zydeco. All of the faculty performed, including coming together for an “Instructor All-Stars” performance. That was followed by another long set by an ad hoc group that included Zachary Richard, Sonny Landreth, Henry Hample, Ward Lormand, Gary Newman and Danny Kimball.

From left: Sonny Landreth, Gary Newman, Ward Lormand and Zachary Richard, Angelle Hall Auditorium, Lafayette,

The next day, Kim and I drove into Baton Rouge, hooked up with Bill Boelens who co-hosts Dirty Rice on KRVS in Lafayette and Back Down the Bayou on WPVM in Baton Rouge. We got on downtown for the blues festival and caught Roddie Romero and Michael Juan Nunez as they were performing Romero’s “The Creole Nightingale Sings” from his excellent Gulfstream release from 2016 (Show featuring my interview with him.) This fan boy moment of meeting these two musicians after their set (and getting Nunez new record) was made even greater when Bill introduced me to Larry Garner who was sitting in the audience preparing to catch the next act. This Louisiana Blues Hall of Famer has three of his records on the KAOS blues shelf and I’ve drawn from them regularly over the years.

Wrote more than I really wanted to do, just needed an excuse to show off these pictures.

Me, Roddie Romero and Bill Boelens

Me and Larry Garner
Roddie Romero and Michael Juan Nunez at the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, May 23, 2o22

Blues & Zydeco Close Out African American Music Celebration

Two more distinct African American music genre close out my month-long celebration of African American Music Appreciation Month. Be prepared to to hear some of the top Blues and Zydeco artists of Louisiana when you click the sideways arrow below.

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Little Freddie King who is still active at 80 kicks off the show with “Louisiana Train Wreck.” You’ll also hear Professor Longhair, Slim Harpo, Lightnin’ Slim, Snooks Eaglin, Marva Wright and many more.

The last 30 minutes of the show features Zydeco, another genre of music created by African American Creoles who settled in the more rural parts of south Louisiana , mixing French dance songs with Blues. Clifton Chenier sings the song that allegedly gives the music its name, having to do with the way the French word for green beans sounds when sung in this style.

In addition to this show broadcast on June 24 and 25, these are the other shows in 2021 in honor of African American Music Appreciation Month:

More NOLA Acts making the I-5 Circuit

More acts from Louisiana and particularly New Orleans are visiting the relatively cooler Northwest during the summer. This show showcases some of those groups so get it started and the read on.

As far as I can tell, Billy Iuso is not visiting the Northwest. He seems content rocking out clubs like Tipitina’s and Chickie Wah Wah in New Orleans. Yet, his “Trippin’ Over Dragons” opens the show. Deacon John sings an old-style swing number for you to open an R&B set before we get on to three that you should make a point to catch when they’re in the Northwest.

Bon Bon Vivant will be in the KAOS studio August 1 and performing in Olympia August 2.

Bon Bon Vivant will be in the KAOS studio during my show on August 1 and will perform at Octapas Cafe in Olympia the next evening. The band’s new song “Pinkerton” from their Live at the Circus should be sufficient temptation for you. Shamarr Allen follows with his unique take on the Gnarls Barkley number “Crazy.” Trumpeter-extraordinaire Shamarr will be in Seattle, Portland and Tacoma in mid-August. The set finishes with Rebirth Brass Band’s “Take ‘Em to the Moon.” Rebirth will be playing Seattle, Bellingham and Vancouver BC next week. (By the way more details are available on my calendar page.)

How about Marcia Ball? I play her number “Watermelon Time” to get your mouth watering for her two evenings of performances in Seattle in August. Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes takes a rare turn on the piano to highlight his gigs and appearances at the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival at the end of July.

If you’ve made it through the show so far then you’re ready for some zydeco with three groups that played the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland last week (Chubby Carrier, Lil Pookie and Feufollet). A second set kicks off with Dwayne Dopsie who will also be up in Vancouver B.C for the Vancouver Folk Fest.

Later in the show you’ll hear Sonny Landreth (playing Mt. Vernon in August) and Frog and Henry (playing all over the region in August). I provide an encore performance of Shamarr Allen and finish the show with a track off of the Bonerama does Led Zeppelin record.

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