Updated weekly on Tuesday. For large calendar view click here.
To combat the typical lull of a Monday evening, I made my way over to the Roux House downtown on 3rd street. The dark lighting and brick walls of The Roux House provide a mellow atmosphere where a diverse range of people relaxed with a drink or a bowl of red beans and rice in hand. Cheerful chatter formed the background noise to the upbeat jazz coming from the talented musicians onstage. As the band played, some people danced, yelled, and clapped, while others just kicked back and enjoyed the tunes.
Michael Foster, a seasoned Baton Rouge jazz musician and front-man of the popular band The Michael Foster Project, had the idea to start a weekly night of jazz downtown with free red beans and rice. Inspired by a lack of jazz culture here in Baton Rouge, Michael Foster wanted to engage the community in quality jazz. “It was hard to convince club owners to open up for jazz on the weekend so I decided to make it a cultural event and add the Louisianian culture to the music. I went along with the history of the red beans and rice on a Monday. I coupled that with the jazz music and brought the food and music together to make it work for a Monday. It has a historical connotation for why we’re doing it on a Monday and it is a way to get jazz to the public,” said Foster.
Historically, Monday was the traditional “wash day,” in South Louisiana. Women would throw on a pot of red beans and leave them to simmer all day while they did laundry since the red beans required little attention. Growing up in Baton Rouge, my mother used to do laundry on Mondays and regularly cook red beans for Monday night dinner. My grandmother had done the same thing and her mother before that so I was well acquainted with the tradition that Foster had spoken of.
Camellia beans provide the red beans weekly and a different chef cooks them every week. When I attended red beans and rice Monday on the 29th of June, four jazz musicians played: CJ Trusclair, Michael Foster, John Gray and Rod Jackson. Mike Foster started the evening of jazz and red beans in November of 2014 and the feedback has been positive. “It’s been going great,” said Gray, “I think that, outside of the music, people look forward to the social aspect of the event. They come out and hang out on a night that is just a regular weekday evening. It is lively and very social. People just enjoy the atmosphere.”
“What I want to see happen is for a Monday night downtown to look as busy as a Saturday,” said Foster, “I’d love to see the Monday night be such a thing that a visitor would know that they could go downtown on any Monday night and get a great dose of Louisiana culture.” Foster and Gray hope that red beans downtown becomes a Baton Rouge staple “where people know that every Monday night, this is just what happens,” remarked Gray.
Red Beans and Rice Mondays isn’t just for one kind of person, it’s for anyone and everyone. “It’s a good place to bring your friends or your girlfriend and hang out and listen to jazz. The vibe is always dope. It is always something that anyone can get into. It’s definitely an event for a mixed crowd whether you’re 15 or 55,” said Deven Trusclair.
Not only do Red Beans and Rice Mondays engage the community in local jazz and offer a great cultural experience but Michael Foster has other intentions for the project as well. “Red Beans and Rice is a free event and we work off of donations. We’ve been able to take in enough donations to donate a keyboard to Westdale Middle School and to Capital Middle School. Our goal is to donate a keyboard every semester and get some of these musicians into schools to do a concert and then do follow up workshops,” said Foster.
“I was a band director for twelve years and our kids aren’t often exposed to alternative styles of music. I love hip-hop myself but the messages in a lot of hip-hop songs aren’t what kids need to have a heavy dose of. When you’re able to get a jazz or classical musician into the classroom and let these kids hear other things that are beautiful, they may want to know more about it, maybe even pick up an instrument themselves and then find another outlet that they could use opposed to just what is forced upon them,” said Foster, “When I was in middle school, I had no idea how far music would take me. It got me a scholarship to school; Jazz music has even taken me around the world. I would love to have that experience passed on to other kids.” Not only does Red Beans and Rice Mondays bring jazz to the Baton Rouge public, but it’s also helping expose young people in our city to different styles of music.
“I just want to get as many people involved as possible. It would be cool to pack the house every Monday. Whether it’s a house band, another artist or another band etc. If I could, I would make the entire city of Baton Rouge come to the event. I just want to see people get more involved. It’s a really positive event; Mike is doing a lot of good things for the community,” said Deven Trusclair.
Foster intends to keep up with red beans and rice Mondays for a long time. “I appreciate Camellia beans and what they’re doing to support us and to, in turn, support the community,” said Foster. Red Beans and Rice Mondays could also use your support. You can attend (every Monday at 6pm), donate, or find other ways to be involved with this project. Why wouldn’t you want to get out on the town on a boring Monday night and enjoy some delicious red beans and incredible jazz?
—Emily Jean McCollister
Photos by Chelsea Layne
If you’re a musician interested in participating in Red Beans and Rice Mondays, if you’re a chef interested in cooking the red beans OR if you’re interested in donating to this project, you can contact Michael Foster at email@example.com
Next week (July 6th), Ernest Jackson will be playing at Red Beans and Rice Monday with Charles Brooks, Deven Trusclair and Michael Foster.
The following week (July 13th), Grammy nominated artist, Trombonist ‘Big Sam‘ from ‘Big Sam’s Funky Nation’ will be the featured artist at Red Beans and Rice.
Baton Rouge Hip Hop is alive.
It takes some looking for. Boosie, Gates, and Webbie don’t live in the city limits anymore, and 94.1 doesn’t play any local music. You can really only see it at a handful of venues and hear it during designated programming hours on a few community radio stations. Most clubs and stations are content playing and publicizing top 40 and top 20 hits.
The first “I Got Next” open mic competition, hosted by the BR Hip Hop Project at Culture Reggae Club, shows that the situation we’ve got in Baton Rouge isn’t due to lack of quality musicians, and shows there’s hope for the future of local rap. Ten artists participated in the event on June 19:
- Tim James
- Richard Lah Slaughter
- Ron Coolhead
- JayB August
- No Suh Foster (Mobile, AL)
- The Monastary (Birmingham, AL)
- D.Judge (Mobile, AL)
Cardell Flare was supposed to perform, but suffered injury in a car accident and wasn’t able to make it. DJ Mikelarry took care of the scratches and spins, and, for a show set during the middle of the summer, it did remarkably well.
The event featured these ten emcee’s in a bracketed rap battle showcase, and the intensity of the competition encouraged everybody to bring their A game. The Monastery took home the crown, with Gho$twriter coming in second. “When we won, I felt like people were finally seeing how ambitious we are. I felt like the 6-hr drive was worth every ounce of gas, and I felt like we had reached a new plateau in our rap journey. I was elated,” Carlos Charm of The Monastery said.
I sat down to talk with the man behind BR Hip Hop Project, Marcel P. Black, about the event, the scene, and what it really needs to thrive.
Marcel has been in Baton Rouge for 13 years, a transplant from Oklahoma. He started the BR Hip Hop Project by himself in the summer of 2012, but eventually put Justin Ivey, Matt Bruce, Mark Wallace, and DJ Automatik on the team. As a teacher full-time, he has a constant desire to help artists help themselves. “I’m a mentor by trade,” he says.
Marcel organized the open mic – his first since 2011 – not only as a way to have some fun, but as a way to mentor and cultivate a scene in Baton Rouge. It was the open mic done right – a competition with thought and consideration given to the artists and their financial and networking needs. In the music world, everybody benefits when you put different people in the same room, from different places and with different assets and ideas.
In addition to the ten competing in the open mic, the event had three “featured performers”: Dude With No Name (BR), Billsberry Flowboy (NO), and Crisis (Memphis), all selected by Marcel as a different model of professional and successful emcee. Dude With No Name is one of the few local musicians to take initiative and put his releases in local record stores. Crisis is from Memphis and knows how to travel. Billsberry Flowboy never holds any bars when he raps, and is a proficient battler. “I can preach to em all day long,” Marcel says, “but if they’re not in Atlanta with me or Houston with me to see how I move, what I say don’t make sense. So I wanted to get other artists to model it for me, so it don’t sound like just me preaching.”
Some of it was more overt: to even be considered to compete, the artists had to send in an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) containing links to online hosted music, social media accounts, a biography, and a video of a performance. Putting together an EPK is an extremely beneficial task for an artist, but one that is often overlooked.
Marcel believes that too many up-and-coming musicians are caught up in an old business model – they try to make a hit single and sit around hoping that some DJ somewhere will help blow it up. “It ain’t since the 90’s that somebody’s had a song so big, Puff Daddy heard it in the barbershop and went ‘who’s this rapping, let me give him a record deal.’ It’s an outdated model.”
Nowadays, “you gotta be on your independent grind. You gotta make things happen for yourself and let everybody else come to you. You gotta put yourself in the position to where you can create opportunities for yourself, as opposed to sitting back, being mad and frustrated that somebody won’t give you something.”
There are artists in every facet of the music industry that neglect the entrepreneurial side of what’s going on. Music is an extremely creative business, but it’s still a business, and musicians offer a very valuable service. By neglecting to take up the mantle and create opportunities for themselves, musicians are prime for getting exploited, or just don’t see the success and popularity that they should. On the other hand, pandering to what the market or audience demands (or what you think they want) is patently false, and everybody can tell it isn’t genuine. Like everything else, it seems to be all about balance.
Baton Rouge Hip Hop Project is around to help promote that balance. They put on shows, book, promote, and whatever else the community needs. “I feel like it’s our duty, as lovers of hip hop, and people who understand the talent that’s in Baton Rouge, to try to build a scene,” Marcel says. “So first things first – we gotta get our artists mobilized.”
If Baton Rouge can develop a strong community of musicians producing consistently good content, there’s nothing that can keep that community from growing. These musicians need to take advantage of the resources they’ve been given, and be confident enough to put themselves out there and make mistakes worth learning from. In the age of the internet, there’s less and less knowledge that’s beyond the typical person’s reach – you can learn about marketing, licensing, promoting, performing. There’s almost no reason not to get out and get yours. Eventually, forces from beyond the city will talk about what’s going on here, book shows here, and build up our local musicians.
“Baton Rouge Hip Hop Project – we all understand the importance of having a scene that’s prominent here'” Marcel says. “Cause we go to concerts all the time. We have to go to New Orleans, have to go to Dallas or something to catch an act that we would like. Even independent acts or whatever. For the most part, we’re tired of seeing people skip over Baton Rouge when it comes to concerts.”
Marcel says the number one thing the scene needs is a tight community. “The artists gotta support themselves. And when I say support themselves, I mean support the scene. There’s so many rappers that wanna be on these shows… If every rapper that wanted to be on the bill showed up, you got 100 people in the audience right there. And with that said, you gotta bring your fans. The scene needs fans. Y’know, after a while, rappers get tired of rapping to other rappers. We need more people in the audience. Every single person that loves hip hop, who loves live entertainment, or who just wants to do something different, they should take a chance on it.”
“Another thing is we need to be more organized. Less politics, more organization, in terms of what we’re trying to do as a collective. It’s problematic to me when this group of people has a conflict with this other group of people… so they just shut each other out. That hurts everybody.”
When people withdraw support like that, sales and attendance go down at shows. And if they have a gig that hurts the bottom line, venues become less likely to book another hip hop show in the future. Then nobody ends up being able to book there.
Marcel acknowledges that it’s an uphill battle. 91.1 KLSU and 96.9 WHYR have underground hip hop programs, but 94.1 stopped playing any local music when it was bought by Cumulus. Spanish Moon, Culture Reggae Club, and Chelsea’s are some of the few venues where you can see an independent hip hop show, but even clubs on the North side aren’t that much of an outlet for local creatives, instead just letting a DJ spin whatever’s popular. “I would like to see more venues and more spaces willing to take a chance on artists or acts that they normally don’t have, and not be afraid to let particular demographics come in a spot and do whatever,” Marcel says. “Everybody loves hip hop. Regardless of content, everybody wants to put their hand in the air, while they got a beer in the other one, and have a good time.”
Marcel and the BR Hip Hop Project are working for a future in which Baton Rouge hip hop will be alive and well, and require a little bit less hunting to find. Marcel says, “Baton Rouge has a very particular story that needs to be told. The world needs to hear what the city has to say.”
Photos by Chelsea Layne.
Palmyra, a band born in Baton Rouge and recently relocated to New Orleans, brings sweet “ambient space country folk rock” jams to the local scene. Ian Wellman (Secretary of Beards and Keeper of Drank), Winston Triolo (King of Thrift and Master of Shred), Eric Lloyd (President of Flow and Protector of Beat) and Andrew Pancamo (Lead Bassist and Master of Coin) all played with each other throughout their years at LSU but did not settle into who they were as Palmyra until the fall of 2014, their last semester at LSU. When they all graduated in December of 2014, they decided that a move to New Orleans was the most logical step for the group as a whole.
Triolo and Wellman met as freshman roommates at LSU and quickly discovered that they both played guitar. When Wellman took time his sophomore year to focus on academics, Lloyd and Triolo formed a rock and roll cover band called “Shoobies” that mostly played in Tigerland.
Shoobies later turned into “Deacon Jones,” a band producing original music but still playing to their peers and to the Tigerland crowd with Triolo, Lloyd and Pancamo as members. “Deacon Jones had a good run. They won battle of the bands and opened for Weezer at Groovin’ on the Grounds. That was basically Palmyra with a different guitarist,” said Wellman.
“We found creative ways to make covers our own with Shoobies which later turned into songwriting. It’s been an evolution. Every time we change our sound, it seems like we wanted to change our identity as well. But, we’re gonna stick with this one (Palmyra) for awhile,” said Triolo.
During their last semester of college, they all moved in together and started to take being a band more seriously. Wellman said, “I think it’s worth mentioning that we were all in fraternities. Playing for that crowd is cool but it’s a whole different scene. When we met each other and started playing together, we realized that this was good stuff that we could actually take seriously and we needed a place besides Fred’s to play this new acoustic song.”
Lloyd said, “With Palmyra, that’s when we started getting into the Baton Rouge music scene for the first time. We found songwriters like Denton Hatcher, Jodi James, Clay Parker, Jacob Zachary, and Caroline Schaff. We realized that this was what we had been looking for. It was always there but when we found it, that completely changed things for us.”
Wellman commented on the transition out of the Tigerland scene and into the local scene, “I remember the first time we performed for that crowd. Winston and I went to Chelsea’s just to see a show. I’d never been to the Chelsea’s side bar and I’d never hung out around that whole scene. Caroline Schaff brought us up on stage to play Streetlights and I remember sitting there watching these people watch me and listen. It was intimidating.” Lloyd added on to that, “The girls from See Schaff Run (Caroline and Laura) deserve a lot of credit for bringing us in to the Baton Rouge music scene. That crowd, the Spanish Moon crowd and the Chelsea’s crowd, all of those people; those were the first people to give us validation that we had something. It was a different crowd. They sat there intently and they listened to us. They gave us a lot of motivation.”
Palmyra recorded their EP, a collection of six original songs at Listen Up! Studios in New Orleans with Michael Seaman. Their EP also features Baton Rouge musicians Caroline Schaff and Laura Swirsky as well as New Orleans musician, Andrew Wise. “We found this little crowd and their creativity and their passion for what they do inspired us to do something special. A lot of this EP was to give people like them something tangible, people we have a lot of respect for in the Baton Rouge community. We even made this EP with some of them; it was made for friends, by friends,” said Lloyd.
Palmyra’s sound has evolved and progressed as they individually grow as musicians and songwriters and as they dedicate more time to their music. They said that the process of being in the studio was a valuable learning experience for all of them. “It’s cool to see what makes a song good. You have to stop and start thinking about that more because every part is being recorded individually. It lets you learn your song as you hear it broken up.” Wellman said. Lloyd commented that, no matter how they grow and change as musicians, they always want to focus on a good song, “We want to get lost in a good song that is complete and whole with a message and storyline.”
“I think what makes this group work so well is that we are all on the same page musically. We all have the same direction in our head and we are all melody-centric. It just works for us and, on top of that, we are all friends,” Triolo added.
These days, Palmyra can be found jamming in the streets of New Orleans. They release their six track EP on Friday, June 19th. Their release party will be held on Friday at Big Mama’s Lounge/House of Blues in New Orleans. Lloyd said, “we are very excited to be in New Orleans and to try to establish roots here. At the same time, we very much appreciate the growth we’ve experienced as Baton Rouge musicians and we’re proud of that community and where we came from.” Wellman commented on Baton Rouge, “it was like an incubator for us, a little baby band incubator.” Palmyra’s next goal is to go on tour but in the meantime, you can find them performing around New Orleans and Baton Rouge and you can grab their EP online!
Their EP drops on Friday, July 19th. You can locate that gem online via Spotify, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud. You may also be able to get your hands on a real CD if you go see them live.
You can see them live:
Wednesday @ Gasa Gasa in New Orleans
Thursday @ The Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge
OR Friday @ House of Blues/Big Mama’s Lounge in New Orleans for their EP release Party!
photo credit: Eric Holowacz
Editor’s note: Ben was featured in today’s Baton Rouge Business Report.
Jive Flamingo is back up and running. We’re back covering the creative music scene in Baton Rouge. By shining a light upon our city’s music we hope to encourage it to continue to strengthen. However, it is not just a strong music scene we want to see in Baton Rouge. We want to see a unique music scene flourish here; something that can only be created here and that adds to our city’s sense of place. I believe that over the past couple of years we have begun to witness this. This flourishing has occurred when collaborations draw upon the raw materials of musical community which are already firmly established here. There are diverse shades on our city’s musical color pallet. How those colors are used, how they are combined, how they are contrasted and juxtaposed are the questions for our musical artists. And it is an exciting question.
When we started Jive Flamingo it was because we didn’t know anyone who used the phrases “Baton Rouge music” or “Baton Rouge music scene” in reference to any current happenings, although we knew a plethora of musicians.
As a recent graduate of the LSU School of Music, I was certainly aware of quite a few musicians who worked and intently studied in the classical and jazz idioms. I had also begun an adventure of seeking out what interesting music might be found in Baton Rouge outside of my familiar academic environment. It often involved roaming the streets with a trombone to see what musical experiences I might stumble upon. I ended up spontaneously collaborating everywhere from an LSU transit bus to the Parade Grounds, to the front steps of the Varsity Theatre with longtime local busker, Leroy.
Around this time, there were whispers and there were headlines in the Daily Revellie that Baton Rouge had once had a strong music scene but that somehow over the previous several years it dried up and vanished. No one could exactly put their finger on what went wrong. Perhaps the members of bands and the audiences moved on to other phases of their lives and couldn’t keep up with the late night schedule of a rock scene. Perhaps venues lost interest. More than just symbolic, for sure, was the burning down of long time music venue The Caterie on New Years Day 2010. Baton Rouge not only lost a venue, but musicians lost both practice spaces and instruments in the fire.
Somewhere in the Great Music Slump of 2008-2010, venturing just across Chimes Street from LSU, I found a handful of singer-songwriters performing at North Gate Tavern from time to time. There didn’t seem to be much structure or audience for these performances, but there was quality singing and songwriting making appearances both inside and outside the old bar. As I recall, Luke Ash was there with some regularity. I began sitting in with some of these songwriters whenever I could and slowly began to get to know them and their songs.
This handful of young Baton Rouge based songwriters, Luke Ash, Jacob Zachary, Denton Hatcher, Jodi James, Ryan Harris, Barrett Black, Peter Simon, and Clay Parker among them, had a lot in common with the classical musicians that I knew. They created beautiful music but were far more connected to a small community of other musicians than they were to any audience base. Simply put, they often played for their peers and for themselves and in reverence of their art, not expecting or requiring much recognition from any significant portion of the city’s population. They created music simply because they loved it. With an independent, humble spirit, a small community of singer-songwriters seemed to be developing because they loved one another’s musicianship and camaraderie. Their songs and their voices were great, and there lyrics were honest and without pretense.
The two Baton Rouge music communities of which I was now familiar — the LSU School of Music and the humble songwriters — began to intertwine for me into several projects in which I was involved including Spontaneous Combustion, A Baton Rouge Acoustic Christmas, and eventually Minos the Saint. In my mind, these projects represented a template of how two different musical communities, consisting of very different musical skills sets, modes of creation, and backgrounds could be combined to produce new colors and flavors, something that was unique because it was a blending of two strong pre-existing communities and traditions.
Flash forward to Memorial Day 2015. On this particular weekend, I made made it a point to attend as many Baton Rouge original music performances as I could. Between a metal show and a hip hop show at Spanish Moon, a funk and neo-soul performance at Chelsea’s Cafe, and a neighborhood music festival going by the moniker Bayou Crunchy Stooper Mess, I found that organic and supportive music communities are indeed still flourishing here.
The more musicians and music fans support one another, the more they can also learn from and be inspired by one another. The concept of combining disparate styles and musical traditions is still alive and well here. Two of the bands I heard over Memorial Day weekend particularly stood out to me as carrying on this collaborative concept: The Easy and Slomile Swift.
The Easy features three classically trained transplants here, vibraphonist John Mann V, trombonist Nick Garrison, and drummer Eli Williams, plus Baton Rouge native Chris Polk on bass and vocals. Mann and Garrison also play synthesizers and provide vocals as well, creating a truly diverse sound blending hip hop, soul, dance, and eclectic brass and percussion sounds. Slomile Swift is the project of James West which began as a solo electronic project but which has grown to incorporate live drums, bass, and keyboards, seamlessly blending electronic samples and loops with the energy of a live band.
It is important to remember that these outstanding bands have not developed in a vacuum but have been shaped, molded, and refined by their diverse musical experiences in Baton Rouge. Their members have been for years active and supportive in the Baton Rouge music community. For example, the members of Slomile Swift have years of experience performing in other excellent Baton Rouge-born bands, Moon Honey and Prom Date. The Easy has been performing and honing their sound for several years, giving thrilling performances at events including Jive Fest in May 2014, the Jive Flamingo Back to School Series last fall, and The Highlander Fest at Highland Coffees. In turn, these bands are inspiring up and coming musicians and audiences to push the boundaries of expectation and expand their horizons.
We are excited to see what direction the Baton Rouge music scene will take in the future. We at Jive Flamingo fully acknowledge that there are pockets of creativity and musical tradition in Baton Rouge which have not yet been significantly tapped into. We firmly believe that existing strong musical communities which can collaborate and inspire one another will create new stylistic ideas and new art — something irreplaceable and uniquely Baton Rouge.
Blogging for Jive Flamingo, Baton Rouge’s local music cheerleader, I’m more than happy to kick off by spotlighting the owners of Lagniappe Records, a store that opened in July of 2013. I sat down with Tess Brunet-Hodgkins and Patrick Hodgkins over coffee and got the digs on Lagniappe records as a DIY (“do it yourself”) record label.
As a DIY independent record label, Tess and Patrick do everything themselves from finding bands, promoting, booking, getting their musicians air time/radio interviews and regional press to getting albums distributed regionally. Lagniappe Records DIY label serves the music community of Baton Rouge by being a stepping-stone for undiscovered artists. Tess and Patrick want to help bands get their music out into the world but also to mentor them in the process.
As Tess acknowledged, there are a lot of bands competing for spots and looking for shows. Even if a band is incredible, it could be difficult to get the attention they deserve. That is where Lagniappe steps in. They don’t accept unsolicited submissions but actively seek out quality bands. Tess said, “we don’t want to just put out anything; we want to put out something we believe in.”
Tess and Patrick are both musicians familiar with touring, recording and working with record labels. Lagniappe focuses on artist development; Tess said that what she and Patrick do through Lagniappe as a label is a way to help new bands. “I think it really stems from me not having that when I started out. It would’ve been really nice to have that,” Tess remarked.
Patrick and Tess hope that the bands apply everything they learn at Lagniappe in other towns and at other shows. The bands participate in every step of the process– from packaging their stuff and putting out flyers to writing bios– so that they can see what goes on behind the scenes and so that they can potentially replicate it and thrive as musicians.
The Chambers and Loudness War are two such bands currently on Lagniappe’s roster. Tess told me that both bands were amazing but only played in Baton Rouge and only played to their peers. When Tess saw The Chambers play at Here Today Gone Tomorrow, she recognized untapped potential and started booking them shows at Lagniappe and eventually adding them to Lagniappe Records label. Tess said, “I wanted to put confidence in them that someone is championing them. I wanted them to know that someone really believes in what they are doing and to put them in front of a wider audience than just their friends.”
Shows at Lagniappe are typically all ages and welcome a wide variety of people. Tess and Patrick have created a place and a space in the Baton Rouge community where everyone is welcome. They try hard to make Lagniappe shows all-inclusive and never exclusive. “I love it, I look around every single show and I scan the crowd and everyone there has the biggest smile on their face and it’s people of all ages, color, background and everyone is way into it and it’s a beautiful thing to see and we encourage that,” Tess said. Patrick quickly added on to that, “everyone is welcome, everyone fits in.”
Tess and Patrick have been intentional to ensure the DIY nature of their label lives on in their interactions with the bands, “we respect them and they, in turn, respect us and the advice we have to offer. It’s a two way street,” said Tess. The musicians feel the relational aspect of partnering with a DIY label and partnering with Tess and Patrick. Matthew Urquhart of Loudness War said, “as someone who has experience with touring and really knows what she’s doing, both Tess and Patrick are really good to go to for almost any question you have about the things that come with trying to be in a band and trying to build a following. They’ve helped us in almost every way; they helped us by putting out this album.”
Tess and Patrick are looking forward to what the future holds for them as a record store and DIY label. They both expressed how excited they were to be on the forefront of what is happening in the music and arts community in Baton Rouge and to have a stake in it. “It’s just cool to be a part of something,” remarked Tess.
As Patrick said, “people should continue to support as much live local music as they can for the good of all musicians in the music community.” So, get out there and #listenlocalBR.
You can find Lagniappe Records at 705 Saint Joseph St in Beauregard Town. They’re open Tuesday-Saturday from 12-7 and Sunday 12-5. They buy, sell and trade vinyl records. Look out for Tess Brunet and the Black Orchids record, coming soon. You can also purchase The Chambers 7’ vinyl and Loudness War’s CD or cassette (listen here) in stores at Lagniappe TODAY!
Hello Baton Rouge music community!
Boy have I missed you. Jessica Orgeron here, with some great news. Jive Flamingo is entering a new era. Although Chelsea, Ben and I have been unable to give this blog the attention it needs in recent months, we know the Baton Rouge creative music scene has continued booming all around us. Bands are breaking through to new levels (ex: Captain Green to Wakarusa, Ship of Fools blowing my mind), a fresh local record label has been formed, and creative music is gaining ground on the downtown front. And so we were thrilled when a talented writer who shares our passion for local art approached Ben about getting involved with Jive Flamingo.
Jive Flamingo is very proud to welcome Emily McCollister as our new managing editor. A Baton Rouge native, Emily describes herself as an indie rock lover who dances a little too enthusiastically at shows. She’s a senior at LSU, where she is a pursuing a major in creative writing and minors in entrepreneurship and theater. With aspirations to thoroughly understand the Baton Rouge arts community in hopes of one day opening a local coffee shop/music venue/bookstore, she has boldly taken up the Jive Flamingo mantle. With her help, we will once again have a freshly updated calendar and consistent original content. But don’t just take my word for it, take Ben Herrington’s:
“Emily will energize Jive Flamingo with her passion for music, creativity, and community in Baton Rouge. She’ll bring a fresh perspective which will help our team further broaden our coverage of the musical styles growing locally.”
Emily said she was looking forward to jiving with some rad local bands and coming up with better puns. Look out for her’s first feature story tomorrow. And please share it!
For this new Jive era to be successful, we need your help. From Jive’s Chelsea Layne:
“My hopes are that JF will roll out with as much fervor and consistency as we did the first time around. We’d love to rally support from the local musicians in our area as well as their fans.”
Please let your friends know that Jive Flamingo is back. This time around, we are researching non-profit, grant, and other opportunities for funding to make this project sustainable. We are also actively working on building our team. From Chelsea:
“Our mission at Jive Flamingo is to uncover local artistic music in our community. There are worthwhile sounds and experiences happening every week in our city limits – Jive Flamingo wants to help people discover those.”
If this mission is in your heart too and you’re interested in being a part of the Jive team, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much for your support, and #ListenLocalBR!
This Wednesday, local rock outfit and Adult Music Club spin-off The Rakers will be performing the second installment of their new series, River City Rewind. The series, presented by Rob Chidester (aka Royal Cyclops Production, aka the guy who presents the wildly popular Drop the Needle series as well as many other great music events), gives the audience a glimpse of bygone times in Baton Rouge by digging into local music history to uncover– and cover– great songs from local artists of the past from a variety of genres. Wanting to know more about the project, I emailed The Rakers’ lead vocalist and songwriter, Alex Cook, to get the scoop.
Cook, who holds down a respectable day job as Presentation/Technology Instructor at the LSU School of Mass Communication, is also an accomplished freelance writer, music critic, and the author of a witty, fun, and indispensable local reference book, Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking For a Good Time In South Louisiana’s Juke Joints, Honky Tonks, and Dance Halls. His answers to my questions about the River City Rewind series sold me on its importance for the Baton Rouge music community, so I hope you will all get out, enjoy, and support this innovative series Wednesday night, 7:30pm at Chelsea’s sidebar.
Cover is $8. Songwriter Anna Byars will close the show. More details here. Now for the Q&A!
JF: How did the idea for the River City Rewind series come about?
Cook: This is an idea brewing for some time. I had a half-hearted promise that if the Rakers were going to do covers, they should be songs from Baton Rouge. We learned Lightnin’ Slim’s “I’m Grown” and Tabby Thomas’ “Popeye Train” early on and it’s gone from there.
Rob Chidester approached us about doing a monthly show at the Chelsea’s sidebar, so it seemed like a great time to put this into action.
JF: What is your goal for these shows?
Cook: I like this town and what it creates. I want to highlight the musical past we have and bring it into the musical present. There are plenty of people cataloging and performing every piano tune in New Orleans, every chank-a-chank performed in Lafayette. I just want to dig into what’s here.
For me, it also says something about culture and place. Every place is shaped by those that lived there and that history is worth knowing.
JF: Who is involved? Is this strictly the Rakers or are others joining in?
Cook: We love having guests. For the first installment, we brought in our friend Kevin Hurstell, member of a number of great Baton Rouge bands in the last twenty years – Slobot, Star Drag, Frozen Bears as well as his current band Too Many Numbers. They closed the set. Our drummer Jamye St. Romain wasn’t able to practice the Rewind numbers, so Kevin sat in on drums and then he played guitar and sung some of his songs. He asked me to sing his song “I Am Barry Bonds” which is a thrill – it’s a brilliant tune.
We brought in Arisia Gilmore on [french] horn to augment one of our tunes and one of Kevin’s, and I thought that added a real glow to the songs. I love bringing people into the fold. I’d eventually like to get a lot of local musicians involved in this.
JF: What’s the show format?
Cook: We do a short set of our original material, a 30-minute Rewind set and then have a special guest close the show. This week we have Anna Byars. people are familiar with her band Polly Pry, but I first got to know Anna when she fronted the Anna Byars Band. She is a brilliant guitarist and great songwriter, one of those people brimming with music.
JF: What bands will be covered this week?
Cook: It’s a diverse set. We are going to do a Mary Gauthier tune – she isn’t from here but got most of a philosophy degree at LSU before moving up to Boston. She’s actually playing the Red Dragon that same night, so I like the idea of running a musical wire across the city like that.
We have a couple of blues tunes, a Silas Hogan number that our guitarist Leon LeJeune has been dying to do, as well as “Prisoner’s Talking Blues” by Scotlandville’s Robert Pete Williams originally recorded while he was in Angola on a murder charge. The story goes that the governor was so moved by this song that he was pardoned so he could play the Newport Folk Festival.
We have a number by the Greek Fountains, one of BR’s beloved garage rock bands and one by Butch Hornsby, a storied raconteur – kind like Gram parsons crossed with Jerry Jeff Walker. Butch Hornsby is one of city’s real treasures. They ought to put up a statue of him strutting down State Street.
As a joke, I wanted to do a Kyper song. Kyper was a popular bumpin’-in-da-club rap/dance band in the ’80s. Everyone I mentioned that idea to totally lit up, going “XTC XTC… wanna hold your body next to me…” so I kicked it to the band and they leapt full into it. I never thought the Rakers as a band you could jack your body to, but get ready…
JF: Any real gems you’ve covered or are looking forward to covering?
Cook: The Shit Dogs tune we do is a hit; we’ll definitely cover more of their tunes. I think we should at one point be the Shit Dogs for a Halloween show. But there are countless tunes I want to do. Buddy Stewart (of Buddy Stewart’s Rock Shop fame) had a band called the Herculoids that I’m dying to emulate. Who doesn’t want to be a Herculoid?
I picked up a compilation called “Funky Funky Baton Rouge” at a record stand at the flea market that has a couple tunes by a psychedelic soul band Black Blood and the Chocolate Pickles that I’d really like to do.
JF: How are the musicians approaching song interpretation?
Cook: We try to make a song our own while still tapping into the essence of the original. I think that is key to doing a cover. I’m really lucky to get to play with this band. We all bring our own musical histories to the table which is what gives us our sound. The running tag line is that we are a “drinking’s man’s thinking band” because that allows us to pull country and blues and rock and punk and whatever in the service of doing songs we like about characters we all know and love. The Baton Rouge songs fit right into that, bringing some of these past artists back to life.
JF: What’s surprised you most about this effort so far?
Cook: Partly that we can pull it off. For most of us, we’ve never been in a band before, so this is a chance to get all our band ya-ya’s out – do R&B and garage rock and punk rock and country all within one band and have it make sense. Also, I love how people look when they remember a song that once meant something to them, something as seemingly innocuous as a Kyper tune that someone heard at that teen club by Cortana opens up a flood of memories. Music is there your whole life.
JF: What are your future plans and hopes for River City Rewind?
Cook: I really want to dig into the city’s R&B past, as well as make a connection with a number of the soul and gospel musicians that still play in north Baton Rouge and introduce that whole scene to a new audience. Not because I am a cultural pioneer or anything – they are the ones who make the music, and I want to hear it and play it. We have a ton of great music in our past that I still want to hear.