By John Hanley
Louisiana is definitely a proud supporter and never-ending fountain of music. It has bred blues, rock, jazz, and rap legends for decades, and shows no signs of slowing down. Perhaps its favorite way of celebrating those legends is through the various music festivals that pop up throughout the year: Buku, Voodoo, Jazz Fest and, coming up on April 11, the Baton Rouge Blues Festival.
The daylong event is gearing up for its 34th year running, and recently released its lineup for 2015. The lineup is comprised of 18 acts in total, but here are a few to look out for throughout the day.
Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires
Known as “The Screaming Eagle of Soul,” Charles Bradley is a funk and soul singer that has left audiences impressed at such festivals as SXSW, Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival. He is also set to perform at Coachella 2015. His two albums, No Time for Dreaming and Victim of Love, have both received widespread critical acclaim.
Arrested Development is an Afrocentric, socially conscious hip-hop group out of Atlanta, Georgia. The collective boasts two Grammy’s, diverse gender and age representation, and a positive message. Gracing the covers of the LA Times, the New York Times and Spin Magazine, Arrested Development has dug out their place in music, even earning the title of Rolling Stone’s Band of the Year in 1992.
Heritage Blues Orchestra
This nine-piece band uses elements from blues, jazz, gospel and country to “reach back to the roots of it all,” as the group’s website says. The group takes a strong influence from African-American history and music, while still adding a new flair to the old musical traditions of the past. HBO’s album, And Still I Rise, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album.
Lester Johnson, a singer and multi-instrument musician known by his stage man Lazy Lester, is a Louisiana native with a long history in blues music. Picking up music during the 1940s as a teenager, Lester made his way up the ladder, joining up with Lightnin’ Slim to put out blues tracks under Excello Records. Lester was inducted in the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame in 1998, but perhaps the crowning point of Lester’s career was playing at the Radio City Music Hall in New York for Martin Scorsese’s Year of the Blues concert.
Son Little is a singer-songwriter hailing from Los Angeles. Blending elements of blues, soul, hip-hop, rock and other genres, he creates his own unique style. Little has collaborated with and been mentored by the well-known hip-hop group, The Roots, on their album, undun. He has also collaborated with DJ and producer RJD2 on a project entitled Icebird. Little recently released a solo EP, Things I Forgot, via Anti-Records.
The Chambers is a rock duo originating in Baton Rouge. Vocalist, guitarist and bassist Alex Abel joins drummer Jordan Farho to create a forceful, innovative blend of surf, alternative, psychedelic and hard rock. Coming together during high school, the two-man group have been making moves in the local music scene for several years, booking shows at various venues and events around Baton Rouge.