The Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival is one of the most well-known music festivals of the Gulf Coast. In the past five years, the festival has quickly grown in both size and reputation. Their website proudly proclaims, “What New Orleans is to jazz, Bogalusa is to the blues.”
Bogalusa Blues Fest Day One
The highlight of Day One of the Bogalusa Jazz and Heritage Festival was the Kenny Neals Band. When it comes to Louisiana swamp blues, it’s hard to beat Kenny Neal and his band. The 2017 Grammy nominees recently performed at the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival, where they delighted the crowd. As New Orleans natives, they were very excited to meet someone from their hometown.
During their set, people of all sorts danced to what seemed to be the band’s signature style of music. It’s reminiscent of old Chicago Blues; think Muddy Waters and Little Walter jamming together on the streets before Leonard Chess of Chess Records discovered them. At one point the frontman asked the audience not to tell a friend that he was, “f**king with that Zydeco s**t,” then proceeded to play an incredible rendition of “Down On The Bayou.” They closed their high energy, pro audience participation set with “When The Saints Go Marching In,” a much-appreciated New Orleans favorite.
When asked what their overall goal for their music is, they responded, “Do everything!” Short, sweet, and to the point, as well as wonderfully ambitious.
Bogalusa Blues Fest Day Two pt One: Chris LeBlanc
Day two of the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival is the bigger, more eventful day of the festival. The day’s many acts ranged from the gospel zydeco of Crispin Schroder to the Grammy winning blues of Bobby Rush. Among the favorites was Chris LeBlanc; the epitome of Louisiana rock.
When asked how he separates this festival from all of the festivals that he plays, LeBlanc says it’s all about the people. “You can tell these people are all music fans,” he says, “everybody’s got their seats out, and it’s just a great scene out here.”
For LeBlanc, enjoying the moment is what performing is all about. He speaks of making the best of it, whether it’s a full day or a single set. The Bogalusa crowd is a favorite. “Everybody here is really nice man,” LeBlanc says, “it’s so nice to be able to come out and do this. We played the place about five years ago, so when we got the call a few months ago to come play it again, we were definitely looking forward to it.”
LeBlanc speaks highly of the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Festival, praising the small community, as well as the laid back and friendly crowd. It’s obvious that he’s impressed by how well put together the festival is. “It’s a very legendary place,” LeBlanc says. “A lot of really unbelievable people have come here and played over the years, and that’s the reason why people wanted to come here.”
While he hopes to get down to New Orleans more often, spreading the Louisiana rock sound around the world is a passion for LeBlanc. “We got shows scheduled all over the world,” he says. “We’re going to bring the Louisiana sound of music to people all over the world, ’cause not everyone has the opportunity to come here and hear it personally, but they still enjoy it.”
Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Fest Day Two pt Two: Dash Rip Rock
LeBlanc was followed later by a favorite local band, Dash Rip Rock. They played an energetic set filled with crowd favorites such as “Liquor Store.” By the time their set was finished, the band was too heat stricken for a formal interview. They were nice enough to stop and say hello, expressing how happy they were with how well the set had gone, the crowd turnout, and the energy. Everyone had certainly seemed to enjoy it.
That’s the general tone of the Bogalusa Blues & Heritage Fest. Friendly crowds, energetic people, and satisfying (if somewhat tiring) days in the Louisiana sun. It’s easy to see why it continues to draw crowds year after year.