Introduction by Johnny Cole
The Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival in Bogalusa, Louisiana continues to be an enjoyable part of The Southland Music Line’s schedule. On Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29, we attended our fifth straight year.
This year, photographer Stephen “Andy” Anderson and I were joined again by staff writer Brenda Germany. In preparation for this article, we decided to share writing duties as a fresh way to cover the festival.
Once again, the festival organizers were able to put together a stellar lineup on both the Blues and Heritage Stages. As in past years, the volunteers help make this event run so smoothly. The praise should be equally spread to all those who work hard to keep the annual event at Cassidy Park a top notch experience. Following each year’s event, we have written about it in detail, this year is no different.
Kenny Neal in front of the Blues Stage at the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival
“Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival 2018: The Sights and Sounds” by Brenda Germany
Long before the drive home from my first Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival in 2017, I began planning my return for the next year, looking forward to the 2018 event, again, being a spectacular music experience. 2018’s Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival did not disappoint and confirmed that each well planned and executed detail of this commemoration of the Blues, local cuisine, arts, crafts and nature could be relied upon annually, making festival goers feel welcomed and encouraged to enjoy the entire experience.
For two days in late September each year Bogalusa, LA, known as the “Magic City”, definitely lives up to its nickname as the population swells to almost twice the usual size. Visitors from such distant places as South America and Germany mark their calendars and flock by the thousands to this city lying 60 miles northeast of New Orleans, to attend the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival, deservedly recognized as one of the most musically rich, yet family friendly festivals in the South. Originally established in 2012, the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival Organization was created to promote and preserve the Blues, music heritage and honor legendary Bogalusan musicians Henry Roeland Byrd, known to the world as “Professor Longhair”, James Crutchfield (Barrelhouse Blues pianist) and “Snoozer” Quinn, (pioneering jazz guitarist).
Picturesque Cassidy Park “Home of the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival
Bogalusa hosts this annual celebration among the moss draped trees of the city’s “Crown Jewel”, Cassidy Park, which harmoniously incorporates the final waters of “Bogue Lusa” Creek, sandy beaches, a replicated mill pond, and three historic museums along with fully equipped camping and recreational facilities into its serene setting. Festival guests have the unique experience of hearing outstanding musicians at two stages expressly created for the event which make full use of a natural amphitheatre created by the surrounding trees. According to State Rep. Malinda White, founder of the award winning festival, “We call it ‘tree verb’- music bounces off the trees, not buildings, making the sound clear to the ear, unlike any other setting.”
While the Blues is inarguably the Festival’s main focus, each year’s music lineup is much more than the time-honored blues rhythm and cords; at both the Blues Stage and the Heritage Stage every type of music lover will find something to enjoy. “The line-up is purposely done, and a lot of these artists know each other, and we expect unique dynamics when they play with each other. We’ve got Blues from the Hill Country, the Delta, Texas, and Chicago; all their diverse sounds are in the mix. On the Heritage Stage, you’ll find artists playing a wide array of music genres of the region, all to promote the ‘gumbo of music.’ There will be Country, Zydeco, Jazz, Funk and Rock and Roll,” said Rep. White.
Vasti Jackson on the Blues Stage at the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival
The 2018 Blues Stage lineup undeniably delivered on that promise, featuring such eminent Blues musicians as Big Daddy O, Kenny Neal, Sonny Landreth, Crispin Schroeder, Chris LeBlanc, Vasti Jackson, Ruthie Foster and Bobby Rush. The Heritage Stage answered the challenge with its own dynamic and wide-ranging lineup of Ricky Killingsworth, Joel Galloway, The Rezonators, Remedy, Dash Rip Rock and Serabee (Sera Buras). Enthusiastic audiences clapped, sang along and danced in front of the stages throughout both days and into the night on Saturday as elaborate lighting effects painted the crowd and stage in a multitude of colors.
This year’s festival also included two very special presentations:
On behalf of Kids Rock the Nation, Inc. and leader, Anthony Wild of Palm Coast (FL), Kenny Neal presented four local aspiring young musicians with Gibson guitars and lessons.
Mike Shepherd, President of the The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, welcomed two new inductees:
- Composer Hoyt Garrick – well known for the Louisiana’s LeRoux hit “New Orleans Ladies”, recorded at Bogalusa’s historic Studio in the Country.
- Bill “Bleu” Evans of Studio in the Country – Recording engineer for 45 years, mixed albums for such well known artists as Kansas, Stevie Wonder and many others.
Bogalusa’s Blues & Heritage Festival is nothing short of amazing with musical, artistic and historical entertainment, water features such as the duck pond, a splash pad and refreshing spots to dip your toes into “Bogue Lusa” Creek plus picturesque sites to pitch a tent, all encompassed by the colors of nature as flocks of remarkable white egrets gracefully land in nearby trees to the delight of birdwatchers. In fact, the only problem festival goers may experience at this standout event, other than the traditional September heat tempered by the occasional water-borne breeze, is the difficult decision of choosing who, among the abundance of outstanding musicians at the Blues and Heritage stages, to see. That, as the saying goes, is a very good problem to have.
Mike Shepherd (Louisiana Music Hall of Fame), Hall of Fame Inductee Bill “Bleu” Evans and Malinda Brumfield-White (State Representative and Executive Director at Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival)
We want to thank the good people of Bogalusa and all those behind the festival and look forward to returning in 2019. WE NOW INVITE YOU TO ENJOY FIVE PAGES OF NEARLY 100 PHOTOS FROM THIS MEMORABLE EVENT. – The Southland Music Line
© The Southland Music Line. 2018. All rights reserved