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22nd annual Baton Rouge Blues Festival brings in record attendance

The 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival wrapped up on April 10 after a full weekend of perfect weather in downtown Baton Rouge. Thousands of attendees were treated to a variety of music from 39 performers over four stages, ranging from legends performing Baton Rouge swamp blues to up-and-comers performing blues rock and everything in between. Thirteen artists were interviewed during Backstage at the Blues Fest, giving attendees the chance to hear impromptu performances and stories from the performers in an intimate setting. Videos of these interviews will be available for viewing at batonrougebluesfestival.org in the coming weeks. There was a fantastic turnout in the Old State Capitol lobby, host to nine bands playing 45-minute busking-style sets with about 100 attendees at the peak of the day. The Raising Cane's Kids Zone featured activities for the kids to participate in and enjoy from partners like BREC, Raising Cane's, Air Seekers and the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. An additional 12 food vendors, 12 art vendors and nine general vendors rounded out the full weekend, providing something for everyone of all ages to enjoy. 

Of this year's event, festival chairman Chris Brooks says, "The 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival made history in downtown Baton Rouge, bringing in record attendees from all over the world—including as far as Perth, Australia. We were thrilled to see the level of appreciation for and inspiration from our swamp blues heritage, from performers and attendees alike. We are even more excited to do it again next year. Personally, I am extremely grateful for all of the hard work and effort put forth from the festival committee. In addition to this committed group of volunteers and the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation board of directors, this year's success would not be possible without the support of Mayor Kip Holden and the City of Baton Rouge, Sergeant Craig Russell and the Baton Rouge Police Department, generous community partners and numerous volunteers. We look forward to seeing all of you out there in 2017!"

Notable facts:

  • Based on visual observation, crowd density based on area square footage calculations and prior experience, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival estimates attendance to be nearly 50,000 people throughout the weekend at or around the festival site.
  • American Routes, produced in New Orleans with Tulane University and distributed by PRX—Public Radio Exchange, was on hand to record several performances and interviews for an upcoming program this summer made possible in part by Amerigroup Louisiana.
  • The 2016 festival was made up of 20 steering committee members, nearly 250 volunteers devoting approximately 2,175 man hours throughout the weekend, over 24 festival photographers/videographers, 12 food vendors, 12 art vendors, 9 general vendors, 48 performers and 53 partners.
  • Bike Baton Rouge parked a record-breaking 182 bikes at their free bike corral.
  • 2016 showed a 73% growth in overall festival revenue from past years. All proceeds generated benefit the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to promote, preserve and celebrate the swamp blues music native to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

The Baton Rouge Blues Festival is a great experience for all ages, races and income levels that can only grow larger each year. If you would like to help ensure a successful future for the festival, please consider making a tax-deductible donation here.

As organizers continue to review feedback, planning for next year has already begun. Mark your calendars now for the 2017 Baton Rouge Blues Festival on April 8-9, 2017.

(Photo by Jordan Hefler)

Join us for the 2016 Backstage at the Blues Fest interview series

Rob Payer interviewing Little Freddie King during the 2014 Backstage at the Blues Fest. Photo by Brian Baiamonte.

Rob Payer interviewing Little Freddie King during the 2014 Backstage at the Blues Fest.
Photo by Brian Baiamonte.

With the Baton Rouge Blues Festival's expansion to two days, Backstage at the Blues Fest will also increase the number of interviews during the festival. Fifteen performers were chosen for this annual event to present the many different experiences and influences of the blues, from swamp blues to zydeco to gospel and beyond.

Our interviewers come from varied backgrounds of radio, television and writing. Each is connected to music in different ways, but all have a wealth of knowledge. Each interviewer has been paired with an interviewee based on their interest or specific abilities and knowledge. The format is a traditional, yet informal Q&A session with audience questions taken during the final 10 minutes of the interview.

In partnership with the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation and NOVAC, Backstage at the Blues Fest will take place in the Old State Capitol Senate Chambers throughout the day. In addition to the interview series, films will be screened from 12 to 5 p.m. in the House Chambers, and busking performances from Ryan Harris, Ben Bell, Dr. Morpheus Blues Band, Odd Men Out, Ross Hoppe, Denton Hatcher and Andrew Duhon, Ben Moore of Humble Kind, Joshua Tyrone, Brian Breen Jazz Quartet, Two Bear Moon and Daniel Beaudoin will take place in the first floor rotunda throughout the weekend.

Interviews and times:

Saturday April 9, 2016

Steve Myers of Mighty Fine
Interviewed by musician and Baton Rouge Blues Foundation's Brian Breen
11:00-11:30 AM

Curtis Harding
Interviewed by WRKF's Karen Henderson
11:45-12:15 PM

Luke Winslow King
Interviewed by WWOZ's George Ingmire
12:30-1:00 PM

James 'Chicken Scratch' Johnson
Interviewed by American Routes' Nick Spitzer
1:15-1:45 PM

Walter Wolfman Washington
Interviewed by WWOZ's George Ingmire
2:00-2:30 PM

Latimore
Interviewed by Dialogue on Race Louisiana's Maxine Crump
2:45-3:15 PM

Reverend Peyton
Interviewed by LSU musicologist Brett Boutwell
3:30-4:00 PM

Quinn Sullivan
Interviewed by musician and LSU Press author Alex Cook
4:15-4:45 PM

Sunday, April 10

Adia Victoria
Interviewed by WRKF's Karen Henderson
11:45-12:15 PM

Leo 'Bud' Welch
Interviewed by American Routes' Nick Spitzer
12:30-1:00 PM

Gregg Wright
Interviewed by musician and Baton Rouge Blues Foundation's Brian Breen
1:15-1:45 PM

Elvin Killerbee
Interviewed by WHYR's Clay Achee
2:00-2:30 PM

Luther Kent
Interviewed by LSU musicologist Brett Boutwell
3:00-3:30 PM

The Neal Family
Interviewed by WBRH's Rob Payer
4:00-4:30 PM

Banditos
Interviewed by musician and psychologist Dr. Owen Scott
4:45-5:15 PM

Bios for all fifteen performers are available at batonrougebluesfestival.org/lineup.

About Backstage at the Blues Fest
Backstage at the Blues Fest was born in 2012 to highlight the culture and heritage of Baton Rouge blues music and its musicians in conjunction with the Baton Rouge Blues Festival. This interview series brings in a select number of performers to talk about their history, education, experiences and music in an informal environment. Backstage at the Blues Fest has grown since its inception, adding additional interview slots each year. Partnering with the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, NOVAC will record the interviews with the intention of documenting our rich blues heritage for generations to come. You can view previous interviews from past festival performers on our YouTube channel. Without the generous support of the following partners, Backstage at the Blues Fest would not be possible: NOVAC, Louisiana's Old State Capitol, Denicola's, and Red Stick Guitar and Amp.

Lazy Lester, Lil Ray Neal and more added to 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival lineup

The Baton Rouge Blues Foundation proudly announces five lineup additions to the 22nd annual Baton Rouge Blues Festival on April 9 and 10, 2016: Lazy Lester, Lil Ray Neal, The Chris LeBlanc Band featuring Luther Kent, Elvin Killerbee and Palomino Darling.

These performers will join the previously announced lineup of blues legends and newcomers including Buddy Guy, Latimore, Curtis Harding, Kenny Neal & the Neal Family performing a tribute to Raful Neal, Walter 'Wolfman' Washington & the Roadmasters and many, many more. This brings the total to 39 performances spanning the two-day festival. The full 2016 lineup can be found at batonrougebluesfestival.org/lineup.

While the festival is still free to the general public, All-Weekend Experience Passes are available for those who want lagniappe with their festival experience at batonrougebluesfestival.org/vip

All-Weekend Experience Passes on sale now!

Photo by Brian Pavlich

Photo by Brian Pavlich

Get your front row seat to this year’s Baton Rouge Blues Festival with our first ever All-Weekend Experience Pass! That’s right, we are bringing you the blues for a full weekend, April 9-10, and we don’t want you to miss a beat.
 
For just $125.00, you will get a weekend filled with various accommodations and amenities, which include:

  • Exclusive entry to our All-Weekend Experience viewing areas adjacent to both of the two main stages, the Swamp Blues Stage and the Foundation Stage, with re-entry privileges all weekend.
  • Gourmet food and snacks throughout the weekend.
  • Two complimentary drinks tickets for each day of the festival at either of our private bars located at each stage.
  • Unlimited sodas and bottled water.
  • Private restrooms exclusively for Experience Pass festival guests.
  • Access to 12 Bar, the Blues Festival’s lounge area featuring exclusive beverages, more private bathrooms, and additional viewing areas of the Foundation Stage.
  • Complimentary shaving and styling services in the Foundation Stage VIP area brought to you by Micah Nickens of Gaudet Bros. of Baton Rouge.
  • Free admission to the LSU Museum of Art throughout the weekend.
  • A one-year membership to the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation.
  • All viewing areas accommodate your favorite lounge chair with additional seating provided by the Festival in both areas.
  • And, of course, your All-Weekend Experience Pass won’t be complete without a unique surprise for this year’s Baton Rouge Blues Festival All-Weekend Experience Pass supporters. A little token of appreciation from us to you for supporting the Festival and keeping the blues alive in Baton Rouge!

Vendor applications are now open

The 2016 Baton Rouge Blues Festival (April 9-10, 2016) is now accepting new applicants for art, food and general vendors. Applications are being accepted through February 22, 2016. Vendors will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis and at the discretion of the Blues Fest Committee. All proceeds go to the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that produces the festival.

Why should you participate?

During the past three years, the festival has become one of the nation's fastest growing blues festivals of its kind, consistently growing in attendance to more than 25,000 people ranging from ages 18 to 65.

The average Baton Rouge Blues Festival attendee...

  • 55% male & 45% female
  • Median income $50,000 to $74,999
  • 4-6 hours a day at the festival
  • 88% purchased food, merchandise or both
  • Spent $80 per attendee on food, drinks and merchandise

Participating vendors will be announced via the Baton Rouge Blues Festival website, batonrougebluesfestival.org. Click the links below to read more about each vendor and submit your application. The deadline to apply is February, 22, 2016.