The Fabulous Thunderbirds
For over 30 years, The Fabulous Thunderbirds have been the quintessential American band. The group's distinctive and powerful sound, influenced by a diversity of musical styles, manifested itself into a unique musical hybrid via such barnburners as "Tuff Enuff" and "Wrap It Up." Co-founder Kim Wilson, the sole original member, still spearheads the group as it evolves into its newest incarnation. In addition to Wilson, the current Thunderbirds lineup features Jay Moeller on drums, Johnny Moeller and Mike Keller on guitar, and Randy Bermudes on bass. "We started as a straight blues band," says Wilson, who handles vocals and harmonica. "We now incorporate a mixture of a lot of different styles. We’re an American music band and we’re much higher energy than we were before." fabulousthunderbirds.com
Kenny Neal & the Neal Family Band
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, is nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category. kennyneal.net
Marc Broussard's mix of funk, blues, R&B, rock and pop shaped by his distinct Carencro roots is described as "bayou soul." Since 2002, he has released a dozen studio albums, EPs and a live album and charted twice on Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks. Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson have performed "Home," his biggest hit to date, and he's been on the early and late-night TV circuit as a featured performer, too. On his latest album, S.O.S. 2: Save our Soul: Soul on a Mission, Broussard sings the soul hits of the '50s and '60s. marcbroussard.com
Larry Garner started moonlighting for the first few years he played out at Tabby's Blues Box. He met such Baton Rouge bluesmen as Silas Hogan, Whispering Smith, Arthur Kelly and Raful Neal. He occasionally played in New Orleans at Rhythms on Bourbon Street, or with Bryan Lee at the late, lamented Old Absinthe Bar. But eventually he couldn't keep burning the candle at both ends. He recalls hanging out at Tabby's one night with Kenny Neal, who'd just finished touring. When Neal pleaded with him to stick around for another drink instead of getting ready for work in the morning, Garner tried to explain. "He said, 'You got to quit that job.' I said, 'I know, but I still got to go to work in the morning.' I left, but Kenny saying that stuck in my head. I had to quit." Garner continued playing music during his military service, and playing in army bands—while stationed in Korea—steeled him for the life of a full-time musician. Leaving his full-time job for a career in music was initially tough for him, but now he has a devoted following throughout the country and across the Atlantic Ocean. larrygarnerbluesman.com
Castro Coleman, better known as Mr. Sipp "The Mississippi Blues Child," hails from McComb, where he picked up the guitar at six years old. A vocalist, songwriter, musician, composer, producer and entertainer, Mr. Sipp has more than 130 credits and has played on over 50 national recordings. Having established himself in gospel territory, he ventured into the blues, winning the 2014 International Blues Challenge. He's toured internationally and recently took to the screen in the James Brown film Get On Up. mrsippthemississippiblueschild.com
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 19th appearance at the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, performing with Kenny Neal & the Legendary Blues Band.
Ana Popović's interest in guitar may have started during her father's nightly jam sessions at home in Belgrade, Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia), but her playing and singing talents have garnered her a global audience and countless award nominations. Her latest album, Trilogy, consists of 23 funk, rock/blues and jazz tunes on three CDs. Touring tirelessly, Popović has shared headlining stages with B.B. King, Joe Banamassa and Gary Clark Jr., among others, and was the only female guitarist as part of the Experience Hendrix Tour in 2014 with Buddy Guy, Zakk Wylde, Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Bootsy Collins. anapopovic.com
Alvin Youngblood Hart
John Lisi may be a New Jersey native, but he's long made a living in New Orleans, especially with weekly gigs on Frenchmen Street. "Delta funk" is what Lisi calls his energetic blend of blues, roots and rock-n-roll. In 2009, he received the Slim Harpo Award for Blues Pioneer, recognized with Dr. John and Alvin Batiste. His latest album, Shut the Front Door!, continues to develop and share his new-school blues funk creations. johnlisi.com
Ms. Silky Sol
Ms. Silky Sol, went solo almost a decade ago after more than 30 years as a background singer for major labels, artists and producers. Her quest is to bridge the gap between traditional and new generational blues listeners with her bluesy, gospel tones and neo-soul funky style. Far from home on international tours or closer to home on Jazz Fest stages, she performs tunes from her first release A Grown A$$ Woman Talkin. Think Etta James, Tina Turner, Chaka Kahn, Jill Scott and Aretha Franklin. Then experience the "Red Afro Queen."
Lil' Jimmy Reed
At 77, Leon Atkins, better known as Lil' Jimmy Reed, is the real deal, as will be attested to by anyone who has been privileged to hear his stinging guitar work, gritty vocals and haunting harmonica. A tall charismatic figure, Lil' Jimmy epitomizes the classic Louisiana down-home blues tradition. Born in the late nineteen-thirties in a shot-gun shack in Hardwood, a small cotton and sawmill town on the Mississippi River, Leon grew up near a club where every night he absorbed the wail of the blues from across the street. At six he had his own guitar, made from a cigar box, and by the time he was a teenager he was proficient on both guitar and harmonica, playing local clubs around Baton Rouge. Filling-in one night for blues star Jimmy Reed earned him the sobriquet Lil' Jimmy Reed and started him on the long path to success. liljimmyreed.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. lazylester.net
James 'Chicken Scratch' Johnson
James 'Chicken Scratch' Johnson is a true swamp blues legend most widely known as Slim Harpo's guitarist. He was a self-taught for most of his youth, until another musician gave him informal training in his late teens. After sitting in with Harpo one night, his talent was impressive enough to be asked to join the band. While not formally credited, it was his standout "chicken scratch" lick in Harpo's iconic song, "Baby Scratch My Back." Touring took its toll on Johnson, who inevitably quit the band and took at job at LSU. He continued to play in his spare time, sustaining respect from the blues community in Baton Rouge and beyond. Johnson released his first solo album in 2014.
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
Baton Rouge born Patricia Dolly, aka Mz. Pat the Lady of Soul, was raised on soul, blues, jazz and R&B, often getting inspiration from her gospel singer mother and her jazz manager father. Growing up in the 70s played a key role in her style of music, from bands like The Commodores and Earth Wind & Fire to iconic solo acts like James Brown and Aretha Franklin. The singer/songwriter has opened up for many international artists, Jeane Carne, Mikki Howard, Jodeci and more. Learn more about Mz. Pat on Facebook.
Josh Garrett is a singer/songwriter from New Roads, La. At 12, Garrett began playing his father's guitar and writing songs soon after. By age 20, Garrett was performing several times a week. At age 24, he recorded his first album, Changed Man, and never looked back. In 2008, he relocated to Nashville and recorded his second album, Live on Printer’s Alley. Garrett returned to Louisiana in 2010, and began work on his third album. String of Problems, released Aug 2011, hit #1 on the Roots Music Louisiana Blues Charts, and was #1 two weeks in a row on American Blues Scene “Blues Top Five.” While continuing to tour and promote his unique brand of Louisiana roots and soul, Garrett recorded his latest album, Honey For My Queen. joshgarrettmusic.com
Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor
In the 1990's Henry Turner, Jr. set out to create a completely new kind of music and pay homage to the diversity of Louisiana. He found musicians from different backgrounds, who had a deep love and respect for their art and cultures, and created what has become known as the Louisiana reggae, soul, funk and blues band–Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor. And so, for the past two decades Henry Turner, Jr. & the Flavor have performed their innovative style of music in clubs and at festivals across the country and around the world, releasing numerous CDs and singles. henryturnerjr.com
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. bluefrontrecords.com
Jonathon 'Boogie' Long
Jonathon 'Boogie' Long was born with the blues coursing through his veins. Brought up in a Southern Baptist community, he first picked up the guitar at the age of six, teaching himself old gospel songs. Fast forward a few years to Long playing weekly gigs at blues clubs and events around Baton Rouge. At fourteen, he left school to tour with local legends Henry Turner, Jr. & Flavor from 2003 to 2005. He has toured with Chris Duarte, Kenny Wayne and Tyree Neal on the Chitlin’ Circuit and has shared the stage with standout musicians such as Warren Haynes and Govt Mule, Dr. John, Rockin’ Dopsie, Monte Montgomery, Ellis Hall, Kenny Neal, Larry Garner, Henry Gray, Lil Ray Neal, and Lou Marini of the Blues Brothers Band. jonathonboogielong.com
The OMT Band 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.
Baton Rouge alternative rock band The Widowers are making their first Baton Rouge Blues Festival appearance this year. The group’s festival debut comes on the heels of its third album, Etc., released in November. Led by Matthew Sigur, the band also includes Andrew Linton, Adam King, Andrew Toups, Jacques Doucet, Jonathan Loubiere, Lee Barbier, Paul Kintzing, Aaron Thomas, Will Doon and Zach Attack. The Widowers’ latest album follows 2014’s Mint Grizz and 2010’s Central Discount. Learn more about The Widowers on Facebook.
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. In 2014, BRMS moved to a new location on Burbank Drive with a recording studio, concert venue and classrooms. brmusicstudios.com
Cliff & Company
More than just a singing group, Baton Rouge-based Cliff & Company focuses on ministering beyond the four walls of the church through outreach as well as music. Learn more about Cliff & Company on Facebook.
The Rakers are a six-piece original “thinking man’s drinking band” from Baton Rouge. Co-led by Alex V. Cook and Lance Porter, they write passionate, intelligent, funny, poignant grown folks rock music with the fervor of the band they should have had when they were fourteen. The songs are turbocharged by the rhythm hit squad of Anna Byars on drums, Lewis Roussel on bass and Leon Lejuene on guitar, and saxophonist Ian Frazier applies just the right amount of snake venom. Their songs encompass everything from the Bible to car accidents and all the heartbreak in between. therakers.com
Riverside Blues is a young, guitar-driven blues band from Baton Rouge. These south Louisiana teens, who have been performing on stages since age 12 in different groups, have now formed their own guitar driven blues band with influences by Stevie Ray Vaughn, BB King, and many other traditional blues legends. Their passion for music and performing on stage drives them in their goal of keeping the blues alive for the next generation of Louisiana music fans. Learn more about Riverside Blues on Facebook.
Unselfish Lovers of the Blues
Alternative rock band The Hitchhiker describes its writing style as a cross between the Foo fighters and Thin Lizzy, the later of which is one of many groups the Baton Rouge-based band has performed with through the years. The Hitchhiker released its third album, Thunder & Lightening, in 2015. Led by Venezuealan native Luis Mariani (lead vocalist and guitar), the group also includes Mark Dupont on drums and backing vocals, Casey Wells and Jude Dupont on guitars and backing vocals, and Josie Menard on bass. Along with Thin Lizzy, The Hitchhiker has performed with many other national touring artists, including Black Star Riders, Local H, Rosco Bandana, 10 Years, Underoath, Scott H Biram, Eagles of Death Metal, American Fangs, Maylene & The Sons of Disaster, Meriwether, Dax Riggs and Michael Shannon. thehitchhikerband.wixsite.com/officialbandwebsite
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
Alabaster Stag is a groove-powered soul machine of Baton Rouge-based performers Chloe Marie, Eli Williams, James West, Chris Polk and Bailey Wilder. With diverse musical backgrounds, the group combines elements of neo-soul, hip-hop, jazz, pop and rock to create a fresh sound. Perfume, their debut EP, was released in late 2016. They've opened for acts like Big Freedia, the Preservation Hall All-Stars, GIVERS and more. alabasterstag.com
The Nick Abraham Band
Abraham was interested in music from a young age, whether singing at the age of 3 or by 5 years old, he had his own radio show in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He toured the area over the next few years, then took a hiatus until age 20 when he picked it back up performing with a jazz band on Friday nights at the famous "Hollywood" restaurant and dance club 40 miles south of Memphis. He learned guitar and piano, though his primary instrument has always been voice and he will gladly tell you that it's his favorite of all instruments, second only to a saxophone. In 2012, at his 86-year-old father's prompting, he put together a "standards/jazz" sound. Spoken of as a true entertainer and a crowd galvanizer, those who have heard him and his tightly knit jazz band, know they are in for a unique treat with each performance.