An article by Johnny Cole & Brenda Germany | Photos by Stephen Anderson
We at The Southland Music Line have been attending the Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival for six straight memorable years. Since September of 2014, we have enjoyed sensational music by such artists as Anders Osborne, Bobby Rush, Cedric Burnside, Danielle Nicole, Devon Allman, JJ Grey & Mofro, Johnny Sansone, Jon Cleary, Keb’ Mo, Marc Broussard, Mike Zito, North Mississippi Allstars, Paul Thorn, Ruthie Foster, Samantha Fish, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Sonny Landreth, Tab Benoit, Victor Wainwright, and many others. Over the course of this time, we have met awesome people, many becoming good friends. We have grown to appreciate the kind people of Bogalusa and Washington Parish, Louisiana. For a weekend each September, we consider Bogalusa’s Cassidy Park our “home”.
It has been our privilege to write multiple articles featuring several photo collections detailing the annual event, plus spreading the word about it through our former television show “Music Scene”, regional and national podcasts and word of mouth. The feedback we have received about this amazing festival has been overwhelmingly positive.
Top photo: Eric Gales on the Blues Stage; Above photo: Chris Spies performing on the Blues Stage with Papa Mali
In 2019, we enthusiastically returned to Bogalusa for what would become another fabulous weekend of music, food, friendships and good times. Beginning on Friday evening, September 27 and continuing through Saturday, September 28th, everything came together nicely just as it has in previous years.
Late September in the Deep South can be unpredictable when it comes to weather, but, thankfully, Mother Nature fully cooperated, granting us plentiful sunshine. Yes, “the temps” were hot, but we did enjoy intermittent cooling breezes. We also took full advantage of the huge shaded areas provided. One of the nice things about Cassidy Park is the number of good viewing areas underneath huge trees and accessible tents set up on the festival grounds in close proximity to the stages.
The Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival is a photographer’s dream festival with accessible views of both stages in picturesque settings. And, if you enjoy dancing to great music, its encouraged by the recessed area adjacent to the stage that doesn’t block the views of those in attendance. It truly is a welcoming environment with something for everyone including not only great music, but also food and craft booths, water features and camping areas underpinned with southern hospitality.
Papa Mali on the Blues Stage at the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival
This Year’s Music Lineup:
Friday, Sept. 27
☆ Blues Stage –
Honey Island Swamp Band
Saturday, Sept. 28
☆ Blues Stage –
Terry “Harmonica” Bean
Band of Heathens
☆ Heritage Stage –
David St. Romain
Paul Thorn on the Blues Stage at the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival
One of the many reasons the Southland Music Line attends this wonderful festival each year is the assurance of uniquely outstanding and memorable moments not available anywhere else. While there were many this year, one stands out in particular.
Gary Bardwell, well-known Pascagoula Mississippi musician and early associate of the famed Studio in the Country, lost his beautiful daughter, Jessie, through a tragic murder in May, 2016. Since that time Gary has honored her memory in many positive ways including the Jessie Bardwell Memory Scholarship Fund, his songwriting and bright yellow wristbands emblazoned with “Jammin’ for Jessie” and her favorite comment, “If the road gets bumpy don’t be grumpy; just smile, smile, smile.”
While attending this year’s Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival, Gary went backstage shortly before the final act to speak with fellow musicians and also handed out several “Jessie” wristbands asking if his friends would wear them. He then returned to his seat for the highly anticipated closing act of celebrated Tupelo, Mississippi musician, Paul Thorn . Midway through his segment, Thorn stopped the show and, to Bardwell’s surprise, spoke about the wristbands and Jessie. In recognition, Thorn then performed a moving rendition of “When the Long Road Ends” with the audience joining in and applauding with heartfelt enthusiasm at the song’s end.
This is but one example why the Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival is the type of event that each year provides its audience with meaningful, sometimes touching, but always memorable musical experiences not to be missed.
The picturesque Cassidy Park – the site of the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival in Bogalusa, LA
The Southland Music Line team thanks the organizers of the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival and the good people of Washington Parish, Louisiana for providing another sensational year at one of our favorite annual events. We encourage our readers to make plans now to attend this well-done and community spirited event in 2020. It has been our honor covering the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival each year and we look forward to returning in the future.
Page designed and edited by Johnny Cole
© The Southland Music Line. 2019. All rights reserved