Small Town Blues
Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival is worth the drive
There is no shortage of music festivals within New Orleans, but sometimes a short drive to the country is required to experience something a little different. Located about 90 minutes north of New Orleans, the small town of Bogalusa, Louisiana will be filled with music fans this weekend for its sixth annual Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival.
Bogalusa boasts a rich musical history. It’s most famous resident was Henry Roeland Byrd, better known as Professor Longhair, whose piano boogie is intrinsic to so much of the New Orleans sound. It was a natural fit to start a music festival there and a team of committed volunteers has created a very special event.
Malinda White leads that team as the founder, producer and executive chairwoman of the nonprofit festival. She set out to make Bogalusa a destination like those on the Mississippi Blues Trail.
“When I visited my first delta blues festival, it was amazing to see all the international travelers who would go out in the middle of nowhere, in the actual middle of a cotton field, for the blues,” explained White. “I started going to different festivals along the Blues Trail and learned from them how to put together our own event.”
White said online ticket sales are outpacing previous years and she anticipates 12,000 attendees this year.
“We have won several awards and have been recognized in the community of blues travelers,” said White. “We are definitely on the map.”
The festival is located at Cassidy Park, which is filled with trees and surrounded by Bogue Lusa Creek on three sides. The setting allows for RV and tent camping, as well as some special acoustics.
“You can hear the music bounce off the trees,” said White. “I call it the treeverb. It bounces off of nothing but trees and that makes us unique. It creates an energy in the park when it’s going on.”
One of the most impressive aspects of the festival is how family-friendly it is. Children ages 12 and under are free and there are special activities planned for kids, in addition to the splashpad and recently completed playground. Don’t miss the harmonica lesson that includes a free harmonica!
The musicians slated to perform this year are impressive as always. The schedule is balanced so that different types of the blues are represented, as well as a gumbo of influences. Anticipate a bit of lagniappe too. White pointed out many of the artists have recorded or performed together in the past, and she has a hunch some of them will interact and perform together again this weekend.
The lineup for Friday, Sept. 29 will be on only one stage and is:
5:30 p.m. – Colin Lake
7:15 p.m. – Big Chief Monk Boudreaux
9:00 p.m. – Anders Osborne
Saturday, Sept. 30 brings:
1:00 p.m. – Wes Lee
2:30 p.m. – Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
4:30 p.m. – Victor Wainwright
6:30 p.m. – Samantha Fish
8:30 p.m. – North Mississippi Allstars
11:45 a.m. – FHS Jazz Band
12:45 p.m. – Believe/WPCAP
1:45 p.m. – Tea J. Moore
3:30 p.m. – Travis Clark
5:15 p.m. – Louisiana’s LeRoux
More than a dozen food vendors and nearly 20 art vendors will also take part in the festival. Do bring a folding chair or blanket, but don’t bring outside food or beverages. Admission tickets can be purchased online or at the gate starting at $10.