Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baton Rouge Fest For All, The Second Day.

After a smooth well run first day we celebrated a little with some of Merel's good friends at one of their houses, a small old plantation house (not the kind you envision from movies but just a common type found around Baton Rouge) that they were restoring. Rob (a talented and multi faceted artist) and his wife invited us in, it was hot and humid, old classic Cajun music was coming out over some beautiful handmade speakers and the smell of fresh cooked crawfish, shrimp and boudin balls wafted through the air. Now living up here in Michigan and this being my first trip to Louisiana, i wasn't given the tourist treatment, instead i was immersed in it like anyone who lives there. Pounds of shrimp and crawfish were plentiful and were not talking about seafood how it is prepared restaurant style up here, here in Cajun country you have to know how to eat it like a local. Sunday the second and last day of the Fest For All 2010 started out with a forecast calling for an 80 percent probability for rain and thunderstorms and although we only experienced 10 minutes of light rain the whole weekend we were prepared for more. The threat of bad weather did not keep the people away or dampen their spirits and the day started off with members of the LSU Jazz Ensemble assembled as a Sextet. Louisiana State University has a great music program teaching a variety of genre's of music on its beautiful campus.
If you are someone who lives in another part of the country as i do, and have ever listened to Cajun music, then when you think Cajun music the music of BeauSoleil may come to mind. I used to listen to a huge variety of music and i went through a Cajun (world music) phase so i knew who these guys were, plus i had seen them live when i lived in Denver in the mid nineties at the Taste of Colorado in Larimer Square.BeauSoleil Avec Michael Doucet as they are known now are known as the best Cajun band in the world and just like Terrance Simien they have Grammy Awards to prove it. Based in the mecca for Cajun music Lafayette Louisiana (maybe you thought i was going to say New Orleans?) BeauSoleil play mostly Cajun music whereas Terrance is primarily known as a Zydeco artist.
Next on stage was the piano based Chicago blues music via Louisiana born and bred veteran bluesman Henry Gray with his band Henry Gray & The Cats Henry Gray is a National treasure as far as Blues artists are concerned, he has played with the greats such as Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters and is the man behind the piano on countless recordings by greats such as Jimmy Reed and Bo Diddley He recorded on the legendary Chess Records label for a while and was a key figure in establishing the Chicago Blues style eventually returning to his Louisiana roots. Henry Gray also received a Grammy nomination, recorded with the Rolling Stones and played for Mick Jagger during his 55th birthday celebration in Paris. Henry was joined on stage later by Carol Fran who also has quite a legacy in the world wide Blues scene.

Rounding out the festival as the last act was the funk music of Big Sam's Funky Nation based out of New Orleans. Big Sam Williams is a trombone player formerly in the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and is one of the best in the business garnering a big Easy Award as the best funk group of 2008.
In between slide trombone notes he "Second-Lines" which is a New Orleans style of street dancing he does with his fellow horn player Andrew Baham who are backed by a solid band. They have shared the stage with Dave Matthews, Widespread Panic and Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and have been featured on VH-1, Regis & Kelly and the Travel Channel as well as having played Bonnaroo, SXSW and more. Its impossible to sit still while these guys entertain you with all they've got.
So foregoing Fort Worth that weekend and going to Baton Rouge turned out to be a welcome change from the Texas music i usually surround myself with, i got to meet some good people, experience a different culture, one rich in culinary and musical heritage and expand my horizons of the great American South. View more photos here. Copyright Jeff Dykhuis.

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