Music is a huge part of life in Louisiana, and Baton Rouge is no different. One band that has been a part of the Baton Rouge music scene for quite a while is Captain Green. The band formed in 2010, and in those six years the group has seen the local music scene evolve.
The band’s lineup has changed over the years, but keyboardist Ross Hoppe and bassist Robert King have been there since the beginning. Both are trained jazz musicians, and they make livings by playing music at establishments in Baton Rouge like Lock and Key Whiskey Bar.
“I actually had kind of a New Year’s resolution to start a band that would gig frequently,” Hoppe said. “I was 21 [years old] at the time. Me and Bob had known each other, and we went to Catholic High and LSU together. We were both in the music department playing Jazz together with some other common friends of ours and some people that we met at LSU.”
King said Captain Green began as many bands do — by playing covers from jazz and funk artists they enjoyed. Some of their influences are Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Herby Hancock and Rebirth Brass Band. The band practiced with covers by these artists first, but quickly began producing original pieces and playing them at shows. The band’s first show was at an open mic night at the now defunct Northgate Tavern.
“Baton Rouge needs another venue like that,” Hoppe said. “Northgate was really good for up-and-coming bands to get their first gig. Now there’s not really a place like that anymore.”
Hoppe said it’s always exciting to play shows with other Baton Rouge local bands because it’s a rare opportunity due to many local venues closing or not having live music.
“There are a lot of places to play if you’re a singer -songwriter,” King said. “A lot of newer places are pushing open mics and acoustic shows. However, in terms of being a louder full band, not so much.”
Hoppe and King both said that with the improvements going on all over the city, they hope more places will allow bands to play, and that will help the local music scene grow.
But for King and Hoppe, that would be just one step of many. They also said that people need to go out and invest in their local music scene, and that people need to spread the word about their favorite local acts. Not only that, but they should be willing to pay cover charges or at least get a buzz going when a show is free. They said that this will show venue owners that there is a demand for a local scene, which will help it flourish.
“We live in south Louisiana — we don’t need much of an excuse to get together and have a good time,” Hoppe said. “We definitely have the potential to be the next big musical city, we just need to put in the effort. This city is getting bigger, and people are hungry for this kind of stuff.”
Both Hoppe and King said that their advice for new bands or those who want to start one is to practice as much as possible, and playing shows is a great way to do that.
“Play like your life depends on it,” Hoppe said. “If you want to be a musician, you have to put in the work.”
Captain Green is currently working on its third album and planning to release it in September. To get updates on the album and on shows Captain Green has planned, check out the band’s Facebook page at facebook.com/
Photo courtesy of Whitney Tucker