Please note: Stage performance dates and times are subject to change. Updates will be announced here and on our social media channels.
MEET THE 2018 BATON ROUGE BLUES FESTIVAL PERFORMERS
Now in her eighth decade of singing the truth, Mavis Staples continues to use her voice as a means to impact our world and drive change. She began her career singing in churches with her family in 1950s Chicago. The Staples Singers, including her father and three siblings, were an incredibly successful gospel group that eventually became the musical voice of the civil rights movement. Staples’ solo career might be independent from her family, but she hasn’t strayed from her gospel roots. She has performed with Bob Dylan, Booker T., Ray Charles, and The Band, among many others, and has had music written for her by everyone from Prince and Nick Cave to Neko Case. In 2017, she released her 16th studio album, If All I Was Was Black, and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. mavisstaples.com
Kenny Neal, born in New Orleans and raised in Baton Rouge, began playing music at a young age. Learning the basics from his father, singer and Blues harmonica master, Raful Neal, Kenny is known as a modern swamp-blues and multi-instrumentalist, that draws from the sizzling sounds of his native Louisiana. Kenny was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2011. His most recent album, Bloodline, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2016. kennyneal.net
THE JAMES HUNTER SIX
James Hunter has certainly paid his dues. Over the span of 30 years, he’s worked on the railway, busked in the streets of London, provided backup vocals and guitar for Van Morrison, played clubs and theatres all over the world, written scores of original songs, and recorded some of the most original and honest rhythm & soul albums of the last two decades. By 2006, Hunter was recognized with nominations for a Grammy Award (“Best Traditional Blues Album” for People Gonna Talk (Rounder)) and an American Music Award (“Best New/Emerging Artist”). He and his band then hit the road for a decade of extensive touring and recorded three additional critically-acclaimed studio albums—The Hard Way (Concord), Minute by Minute (Concord) and Hold On! (Daptone). By 2016, MOJO magazine had crowned him “The United Kingdom’s Greatest Soul Singer.” jameshuntermusic.com
After launching her recording career in 2009, Samantha Fish quickly established herself as a rising star in the contemporary blues world. Since then, the charismatic young singer-guitarist-songwriter has earned a reputation as a rising guitar hero and powerful live performer, while releasing a series of acclaimed albums that have shown her restless creative spirit consistently taking her in new and exciting musical directions. The New York Times called Fish “an impressive blues guitarist who sings with sweet power” and “one of the genre’s most promising young talents.” Her hometown paper The Kansas City Star noted, “Samantha Fish has kicked down the door of the patriarchal blues club” and observed that the young artist “displays more imagination and creativity than some blues veterans exhibit over the course of their careers.” samanthafish.com
CHRIS THOMAS KING
Blues Fest attendees may recognize Chris Thomas King from his appearance in O Brother Where Art Thou as delta blues legend Tommy Johnson, but his musical experience extends far beyond traditional southern blues. The son of local blues icon Tabby Thomas, King picked up music at an early age, traveling for gigs as a rhythm guitarist by sixth grade and regularly sitting in with swamp blues legends like Silas Hogan, Guitar Kelly, and Clarence Edwards. He began crafting his own style early on in his career, which eventually bloomed to include newer musical elements like hip-hop and electronica. He’s since produced a diverse array of albums, starred in several films, and powered through packed European and American tours alongside acts like Alison Krauss and Union Station, Emmy Lou Harris, and Ralph Stanley. christhomasking.com
Back when blues was king and South Louisiana was the breeding ground for a blast of some of the most memorable American music ever recorded, at the heart of it was Lazy Lester. It was in the mid-1950s, on a bus, that fate turned Lester’s way, and the roots to what would become classic music began to grow. As Lester tells it, he was living in Rayne, Louisiana at the time and was on the bus riding home. Lightnin’ Slim, who was already an established recording artist, was also on the bus and was headed to Crowley to cut a record at Jay Miller’s Studio, where so much of the material for the Nashville-based Excello Records was being recorded. Since Crowley was just seven miles further than Rayne and because Lester had a serious itch to be around big-time music making, Lester decided to stay on the bus and accompany Slim to the studio. When they got there, the scheduled harp player, Wild Bill Phillips, didn’t show for the session. Lester told Slim that he had actually played with Slim’s band and thought he could handle the harp parts for the session. Remarkably, Slim and Miller gave Lester that chance, and he did not disappoint. A classic pairing was born, and Lester became a mainstay on Slim’s Excello recordings and his gigs. Through the popularity of his recordings and as the Excello story has become the stuff of legend, Lazy Lester has enjoyed tremendous popularity worldwide. As a true living legend, his talents are as much in demand as ever. At the 2018 festival, Lester will be performing a selection of his Excello 45s alongside Sam Hogan, Bruce Lamb, and Jo Monk lazylester.net
Blues legend Henry Gray began his career playing piano in an Alsen, Louisiana church at the age of eight and has yet to slow down. After serving in World War II, Gray moved to Chicago where he played and recorded with notable players and blues innovators for 22 years before joining Howlin' Wolf's band in 1956. Since returning to Baton Rouge in 1968, Gray has worked with an extensive list of blues notables such as Muddy Waters and BB King, has performed all over the world and has been honored with several award nominations including a Grammy nod for his work on "A Tribute to Howlin' Wolf." This will be Gray's 20th appearance at the Baton Rouge Blues Festival.
The title track of Marcia Ball’s latest album, The Tattooed Lady And The Alligator Man, is an irresistible tale of true love at the traveling carnival. It’s a story that nobody but Ball could spin, filled with vivid details, universal truths, and a rambunctious sense of fun and desire. With raucous horns punctuating Ball’s legendary piano playing and emotional, melodic vocals, the song kicks off a CD of eleven dazzling originals and one stirring cover. The release mixes Ball’s Gulf Coast blues, New Orleans R&B, swampy Louisiana ballads, and jumping, Tex-Mex flavored zydeco into a one-of-a-kind musical gumbo, a sound she has been perfecting over the course of her legendary career. Her love of the road has led to years of countless performances at festivals, concert halls and clubs all over the world. The Texas-born, Louisiana-raised musical storyteller’s groove-laden New Orleans boogie, deeply soulful ballads and rollicking blues have won her an enormous, loyal and still-growing fan base. She’s received a total ten Blues Music Awards (and a whopping 44 nominations), seven Living Blues Awards, and five Grammy Award nominations. She has been inducted into both the Gulf Coast Music Hall Of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame. marciaball.com
Over the course of 25 years and ten albums, the Subdudes have quietly become one of America’s national music treasures. The New Orleans-formed group is a living encapsulation of American music, a vibrant cauldron of sounds that stirs together meaty grooves and jazzy dynamics, soulful R&B swagger, easy vocal harmonies, cheeky rock ‘n’ roll attitude and folky social consciousness—not to mention some of the sharpest musicianship and ensemble playing you’ll ever hear from any five musicians. Led by singer/guitarist Tommy Malone and accordionist, John Magnie, The Subdudes draw most of their inspiration from the sounds of their native New Orleans, blending blues, gospel, funk, and R&B with their own harmony vocals; their sound is also notable for the band’s substitution of a tambourine player, Steve Amedée, for a drummer. Tim Cook rounds out the band on bass. subdudes.com
COWBOY STEW BLUES REVIEW FEATURING LIL BUCK SINEGAL, CC ADCOCK, STEVE RILEY, CURLEY TAYLOR & LEE ALLEN ZENO
Five of Lafayette’s finest come together to play the South Louisiana music they love—blues, Cajun & zydeco. From Clifton Chenier to the Excello hits of Slim Harpo, Lazy Lester and more, Paul 'Lil Buck' Sinegal, C.C. Adcock, Steve Riley, Lee Allen Zeno & Curley Taylor have been performing this music all of their lives throughout the Gulf Coast and beyond. Nobody delivers the real deal south Louisiana blues, Cajun & zydeco like Cowboy Stew! Grab a fried pork chop, a Crown & 7 and savor some Stew!
FLAT DUO JETS
The originators of the guitar-drums duo, Chapel Hill, North Carolina's Flat Duo Jets finally made the leap to a major label in 1998. However, it was not coincidental that the label they moved to, Outpost Recordings, was overseen by highly esteemed alternative rock forefather and R.E.M. producer Scott Litt. He had seen the band develop over a 10-year period and considered the duo, led by vocalist/guitarist Dexter Romweber, to be "phenomenal'. Their energetic revival of early rockabilly had first come to prominence after featuring in the 1986 music documentary, Athens, Georgia: Inside/Out. They subsequently released a series of independent albums for a variety of local labels, with high points including 1990's self-titled long-playing debut and 1993's White Trees. For their Outpost debut, Lucky Eye, Litt contracted dB's alumnus Chris Stamey, who worked alongside him as co-producer. Sessions were completed at the Muscle Shoals Sound studios in Alabama, and over 18 tracks explored roots rock, traditional R&B and surf guitar ' Romweber's distinctive playing being influenced by old rockabilly records, and Charlie Feathers in particular. Though the band broke up in 1999, Romweber carried on the Flat Duo Jets mix of rockabilly, blues and surf music on a number of well-received solo releases.
JIMMY 'DUCK' HOLMES
Not only a student and teacher of the "Bentonia School of Blues"—whose alumni include Skip James, Jack Owens, Henry Stuckey and Cornelius Bright—Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes is the proprietor of one of the oldest juke joints in Mississippi, the Blue Front in his native Bentonia. Though he has been playing the blues his entire life, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that he began widely performing his music and recording albums. Since his first album in 2003, Homes has gone to release several additional albums. His most recent album, last year’s It Is What It Is, was released under Blue Front Records, which he launched in November 2014 to promote and preserve the country blues. At the 2018 festival, Holmes will perform with The Dexateens. bluefrontrecords.com
Erica Falls is a soulful singer who has recorded and performed with Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Sting, No Doubt, Jennifer Hudson and John Fogerty. While touring with funk band Galactic, Falls wrote and recorded her sophomore album Soul's Expression that showcases the sassy energy of her live shows while combining soul, funk and R&B to remind listeners authentic music never went anywhere. ericafalls.com
Born in Louisiana in 1970 and raised in Baton Rouge, Troy first started singing in the Starhill Baptist Church choir at the age of five. Already he was an orphan of sorts. His father died in a tragic car accident when Troy was three; his mother was clinically depressed and living in an institution during most of his childhood. His paternal grandparents Edna Mae, a respected gospel singer, and Henry, raised Troy. They were the first to recognize his musical talent. Edna Mae sent him to school to learn to play the several instruments, including the sousaphone and the guitar, but balked when she heard him play the blues, a genre she still thought of as “the devil’s music.” It wasn’t long before Troy was sneaking out of the house at night to hang with the late harmonica master Raful Neal, who had famously played with Buddy Guy in the blues band The Clouds, and jam at local clubs like Tabby’s Blues Box, Byron’s and Soweto’s. Customers were so taken with his youthful appearance the nicknamed him “baby face.” He may have been young, but he’s always claimed to have an “old soul.” In fact, he says with a smile that he’s really 84. Troy was a huge Prince fan in high school. He dressed like the Purple One in high school, even thought of himself as a Southern version of the Minnesota superstar. He attacked songs with an aggressive style that earned him another moniker—Troy Turner, guitar burner.
The 2017 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition winner, Quiana Lynell infuses her classical training with her gospel upbringing and approaches jazz as a storyteller. She hits every note with perfect timing and impeccable pitch. If Sam Cooke were alive to hear her performance of his classic, "A Change is Gonna Come," he might say, "yeah...that is what I meant." A graduate from Louisiana State University’s music department, Lynell is able to harness her voice as a true instrument and perform various genres of music while maintaining her own sound. She is quickly becoming recognized as one of the voices to listen for. With her debut album soon to be released by Concord Records she is positioned to become one of the longstanding artist of jazz. quianalynell.com
OSCAR 'HARPO' DAVIS
JST DAVID (“just David”) is a soulful singer-songwriter and musician from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His smooth vocal delivery, thoughtful lyrics and lo-fi elements of soul, blues, jazz, r&b, classical and hip hop combine into a unique, genre-bending sonic experience reminiscent of a time where music was genuine, uplifting and ambitious. A brief stint in L.A. with multi-platinum songwriter Preston Glass (Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Kenny G, Earth Wind & Fire, Natalie Cole) led to co-signs from music royalty and critics alike, who are just beginning to realize what folks back home knew all along—this young man is a special talent. After selling out debut solo performances in Hollywood in the fall of 2017, JST DAVID’s growing fanbase in the U.S. and around the world have been anticipating the release of his debut album SNACKS, (produced by long-time friend and producer, Jay Kale) and the opportunity to experience his electric live show for themselves. JST DAVID is slated to headline his own 17-city tour throughout the United States and Europe during the summer of 2018. jstdavid.com
Weldon H. Dunston, also known as Sundanze, is a vocalist and guitar player from Manhattan, New York. Sundanze has played all over the United States and several other countries. He has played Latin, country, rock & blues. In the late nineties, he recorded two albums and two songs made #1 on the Denver CO charts, "In The Can" and "Payin' Dues." He has shared the stage with The Left Bank, Drifters, The Coasters, The Marvlettes, The Platters, The Temptations, ZZ Top, James Brown, B.B. King, The Doobie Brothers, Leonard Skinard, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Kenny Neal, Larry Garner, The Allman Brothers, and many more. He is currently playing in Baton Rouge and the local surrounding areas with his new band Sundanze & EOW.
DARCY MALONE & THE TANGLE
Darcy Malone & the Tangle began when Darcy, the daughter of Dave Malone of The Radiators fame, met skateboarder/guitar player Christopher Boye. The husband/wife duo wanted to create music that incorporated Darcy’s background of soul and pop with Chris' love of indie/underground rock n roll. After adding band members Craig Toomey (vocals, bass), Jagon Eldridge (saxophone, keyboards) and Billy Schell (drums) the two musicians got the exact fresh sound they were looking for. Incorporating a “tangle” of genres, the band go from the funky catchy grooves of their hit, “Be A Man,” to the dynamic rock n roll hooks of songs like “Still Life”. Great songs combined with an intensely fun live performance make this band for everyone. darcymaloneandthetangle.com
MJ & THE REDEEMERS
MJ & The Redeemers is a hard-driving, high-energy band from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The band was formed in 2010, and has performed at numerous venues and festivals in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Mandeville, and other cities in southern Louisiana. Fronted by the multi-talented MJ, and surrounded by a seasoned group of musicians, MJ & The Redeemers always deliver foot stompin' grooves to get the crowd moving and keep them moving. Not a typical cover band, MJ & The Redeemers set list is considered one of it’s many strong points. Mixing New Orleans R & B, Texas blues, soul and motown, along with a bit of classic rock and roll, the band covers many of the most popular musical genre’s in their repertoire. Band members include some of New Orleans and Baton Rouge top musicians; musicians who have performed with international stars such as Chuck Berry, Dr. John, Wayne Cochran, Roomful of Blues, Jaco Pastorius, Tab Benoit, as well as local legends, Luther Kent & Trick Bag, Walter Wolfman Washington, Rockin Doopsie, Jean Knight, Charmine Neville, and many, many, more.
Harvey Knox, originally from Tallulah, La., is known for performing with almost every blues musician to come out of Baton Rouge including the legendary Slim Harpo. Knox left his hometown to study music at Southern University in 1957, being the first of his family to attend college. After college, he played guitar full-time at up to seven gigs a week to make ends meet. His impact on the blues was recently recognized at the annual Slim Harpo Music Awards in 2013, honoring Knox as a blues pioneer.
New Orleans-based Water Seed has an ever-growing resume, including performances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans Essence Festival, Richmond Jazz Festival, Flood City MusicFestival, a three month residency in Russia, the Dogwood Music Festival, headliner at the Apollo Theater and countless other venues and festivals throughout the world. Not simply focusing on performances, Water Seed has an extensive discography. With the release of their 5th album, Water Seed has racked up over 250,000 downloads, album sales and streams. Their last two projects, Wonder Love 1 and Wonder Love 2, debuted in the top 20 on iTunes charts. They have received the endorsements of The Gap Band, Cameo, Avery Sunshine, Cyril Neville, George Porter, Herlin Riley, Nicole Ari-Parker, Dwele, Corey Henry, PJ Morton, Gary Douran, Janelle Monae, Toni and Tamar Braxton, and Tisha Campbell. With their latest project being released on May 19th, Water Seed continues to grow and represent New Orleans by establishing a progressive musical identity for a city known for musical greatness. waterseedmusic.com
OMT, or One More Time Band, has been together since 1995 with their goals of making good music, putting on a good show and making sure everyone has a good time. The band plays R&B, soul and classic rock and roll from the '60s and '70s with a style all its own. You may have seen them downtown before at Live After Five or gotten down with them at Teddy's Juke Joint.
TERRY 'HARMONICA' BEAN
THE ORIGINAL HARLEM SLIM TITO DELER
Born and raised in uptown Manhattan, Tito Deler is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. With a natural gift for music, Tito started playing piano at an early age and picked up the guitar by age eight. But it wasn’t until he was 38 that Tito found his true instrument, a steel body resonator guitar. He started writing music of his own, combining sounds from his New York upbringing with the style of pre-war Mississippi Delta blues. He released his first record, The Original Harlem Slim, which was named one of the top 15 albums by Other Music in 2012. titodelerblues.com
SWEET SOUTHERN HEAT
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where there’s flames, there’s heat……Sweet Southern Heat. The Baton Rouge based band was formed in 2012, but came into fruition in 2015 by founding members, Toderick Lee & Ricky L. Jarvis, Jr. Sweet Southern Heat band has created a unique, music genre sound called, “Collective, Eclectic Soul.” Collective, Eclectic Soul consists of a melting pot of musical sounds of Traditional Jazz, Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Funk, Latin, Dancehall/Jamaican, & Neo-Soul. The members of Sweet Southern Heat are: Ricky L. Jarvis, Jr., Marcella Ratcliff, & Andrew Jackson, Chesneri Jarvis & GaQuane Coleman (Vocalists); Will Richard (Keyboardist); Gabrielle LeBrane (Aux/Keyboards); Ronnie Turner (Bass Guitar); John Stutts (Drums/Percussionist); & , Marcus Fisher (Lead Guitarist). Sweet Southern Heat describes their band as a group of talented, dynamic singers & musicians, who have a sound that will bring a mind-blowing eargasm experience to take your body and soul musically to another level. So, if you're ready to feel the heat, let Sweet Southern Heat create an environment of “Eclectic Ecstasy Ambiance,” that you have never heard before through their sultry, sexy-smooth voices and instruments like no other.
HEZEKIAH & THE HOUSEROCKERS
Alex Abel has a voice made for hard-rock. High, piercing and a bit otherworldly. Think Robert Plant, Ozzy Osbourne, Jack White, and Geddy Lee. And this 20-year-old musician from Louisiana does much more than sing. Abel is a vibrant artist who is also a prolific songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. Abel is also the creator of the Blue Orchid, a mind-blowing musical version of the wireless energy transmitter invented by Nikola Tesla, formulator of the first alternating current motor. Recently, Abel worked with engineer Ben Mumphrey (Pixies, Breeders, Jello Biafra, Frank Black) at Louisiana’s legendary Studio in the Country, where Abel recorded his newest EP, RIP, to be released this spring. alexabelx.com
BATON ROUGE MUSIC STUDIOS
Since 2006, Baton Rouge Music Studios' faculty of music educators and professional performers has instructed area youth in music education. In groups or one-on-one, students learn fundamentals from ear training, theory and instrument technique to professional skills like networking and communication. Students at BRMS apply their lessons on stage, in public at venues like the Hard Rock Café in New Orleans and the Atrium at the Belle of Baton Rouge. In 2014, BRMS moved to a new location on Burbank Drive with a recording studio, concert venue and classrooms. brmusicstudios.com