•Role of Blues in SWLA & Acadiana

"Blues is a tonic for whatever ails you. I could play The Blues and then not be blue anymore." - B.B. King

Selecting Acadiana as the home for Blown Away On the Bayou was no random decision. This region, often referred to as “The Crossroads,” has naturally blossomed into a cultural epicenter like no other. It’s a place where the echoes of history persistently resound, woven together by the rich tapestry of French, Spanish, African, Native American, and Caribbean influences.Here in South Louisiana, these cultural threads blend almost seamlessly, creating fertile ground for a rich interplay of diverse musical styles. You can hear it played and sung in the clubs, at the festivals, on the back porches. In this cultural melting pot, the heartfelt rhythms of classic Blues harmoniously blend with the lively cadences of Cajun and Creole music.

One of the most exciting aspects of Blown Away On The Bayou is our commitment to embracing the rich local musical talent that Acadiana has to offer. We firmly believe that to truly understand and appreciate The Blues in this culture, we need to invite those musicians who are deeply rooted in this vibrant community to share their expertise and experiences.

Last year, 2022, we had the incredible privilege of collaborating with some of the region’s most esteemed musicians, including Michael Doucet, Steve Riley, Dirk Powell, and Wilson Savoy. These individuals are not only renowned for their incredible musical skills but also for their unwavering connection to the heart and soul of Acadiana’s musical heritage.

Michael Doucet, the Grammy Award-winning fiddler and founder of the legendary band Beausoleil, has been a driving force in preserving and celebrating Cajun music. His mastery of the fiddle and his commitment to Cajun culture make him a vital figure in the region’s music scene.

Steve Riley is another remarkable talent who has made significant contributions to the Cajun and Creole music traditions. As the frontman of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, he has captivated audiences with his voice and accordion and fiddle-playing prowess and his ability to infuse new life into classic tunes.

Dirk Powell, known for his versatile musicianship and collaborations with a wide range of artists, has brought his immense talent to the forefront of Acadiana’s music scene. His mastery of multiple instruments, including the banjo, fiddle, and accordion, has made him a sought-after musician and producer in the region.

Wilson Savoy, the Grammy Award-winning as part of The Band Courtbouillon and a member of the renowned Savoy Family Band and world-famous Pine Leaf Boys, has a deep and storied connection to the musical traditions of Acadiana. His mastery of the accordion and unwavering dedication to preserving the Creole heritage have made him a vital contributor to the local music scene.

This year, 2023, we are thrilled to welcome a new lineup of master musicians to Blown Away On The Bayou, each of whom brings their unique perspective and talents to our exploration of The Blues in Acadiana’s culture. These artists are not only exceptionally skilled musicians but also cultural ambassadors who have made significant contributions to preserving and promoting the rich musical heritage of the region.

Christine Balfa, known for her enchanting vocals and mastery of the Cajun guitar, is a prominent figure in the Cajun music scene. As a member of Balfa Toujours and the daughter of legendary Cajun musician Dewey Balfa, she has carried on her family’s tradition and helped bridge the gap between Cajun and Blues music. Her participation in this year’s summit promises to offer invaluable insights into the cultural intersections that shape Acadiana’s musical identity.

Cedric Watson, a virtuoso on multiple instruments, including the fiddle, accordion, and guitar, is renowned for his dedication to Creole music. He has seamlessly blended Creole traditions with other genres, creating a sound that is both innovative and deeply rooted in Acadiana’s culture. Cedric’s musical journey has taken him from the rural communities of Louisiana to international stages, making him a vital link between the past and the future of Creole music.

Lee Allen Zeno, an esteemed bass player, is a cornerstone of Acadiana’s music scene. With a career spanning decades, he has played with some of the greatest names in Cajun, Zydeco, and Blues. His deep understanding of rhythm and groove has made him an in-demand musician and a beloved figure in the community. Lee Allen’s contribution to this summit is sure to add a profound depth to the exploration of the Blues in Acadiana, showcasing the vibrant fusion of these musical traditions.

Preston Frank, an acclaimed accordionist, is a torchbearer of traditional Zydeco music. His energetic playing style and deep-rooted connection to Creole culture have earned him a revered status among fans and fellow musicians alike. Preston’s music reflects the spirit and resilience of Acadiana’s cultural heritage. His participation in Blown Away On The Bayou will bring an authentic and powerful representation of Zydeco, further enriching the event’s exploration of Acadiana’s musical landscape.

Chris Miller‘s instrumental skills are impressive. Playing the accordion, fiddle, keys, and harmonica, he showcases his versatility and commitment to the diverse musical traditions of Acadiana. These instruments each bring their unique flavor and character to the sounds of Acadiana.

Corey Ledet, a celebrated accordionist and zydeco musician, is known for infusing traditional Creole music with modern influences. His innovative approach has garnered him critical acclaim and expanded the horizons of Creole music. Corey’s presence at the summit will provide a unique perspective on the connections between zydeco, Blues, and Creole traditions.

With this extraordinary lineup of master musicians, we aim to delve even deeper into the cultural crossroads of Acadiana and explore how The Blues has interwoven with Cajun, Creole, and zydeco traditions over the years. These artists will not only grace us with their performances but also share their stories, experiences, and insights into the musical landscape of Acadiana.

Blown Away On The Bayou is not just a music summit; it’s an immersive journey into the heart and soul of a region where history, culture, and music converge. By bringing together these exceptional musicians, we continue to celebrate the enduring legacy of Acadiana’s musical heritage and the profound impact of The Blues on this vibrant cultural landscape.

Having these extraordinary musicians join us at Blown Away On The Bayou not only adds a layer of authenticity to our exploration of The Blues but also enriches our understanding of the intricate interplay between Cajun, Creole, and Blues traditions. Their insights, stories, and performances provide invaluable insights into how these genres have influenced and complemented each other over the years.

By inviting these local luminaries to be part of our summit, we aim to create an immersive experience that goes beyond just listening to music. It’s about hearing the stories, feeling the passion, and understanding the deep-rooted connections that exist between these artists and the musical traditions of Acadiana. Their presence embodies the spirit of Blown Away On The Bayou — a celebration of culture, heritage, and the enduring power of music.

In the heart of Acadiana, the convergence of Blues with Cajun and Creole traditions breathes life into the concept of a cultural crossroads. Here, musical genres don’t just peacefully coexist; they actively inspire and elevate each other across generations. This cultural symbiosis has not only influenced the melodies within these diverse cultures but has also left a deep mark on the souls of Acadiana’s residents.

As generations gather for fais do-dos, Lalas, zydecos and other communal revelries, the harmonious marriage of these musical forms becomes the backdrop to shared tales, laughter, and the joyful celebration of life’s most cherished moments. It’s a living testament to the enduring power of music to unite, enrich, and bring forth the vibrant tapestry of our shared human experiences.

In the lively Cajun tunes, you’ll find echoes of The Blues, infusing danceable rhythms that keep toes tapping. It’s like a Cajun dance party with that Bluesy twist, adding a unique flavor to the melodies. Cajun songs, sung in languages like Cajun French and English, often touch on profound themes, akin to The Blues. The emotional depth and storytelling traditions provide a common ground for all listeners to connect with. In the vibrant Creole culture, the same harmonious fusion happens, blending the rhythms and soulful storytelling of The Blues with Creole music’s lively beats. It’s like a musical conversation that transcends boundaries and invites everyone to join in the celebration of culture and shared experiences in Acadiana.

Blues Weaving into Cajun Music:

Rhythmic Grooves: The Blues’ rhythmic patterns and syncopations have left their mark on the rhythmic structure of Cajun music. This influence gives Cajun tunes their danceable and infectious rhythms, making toes tap and hips sway.
Heartfelt Storytelling: Just like in The Blues, Cajun songs delve into poignant lyrical themes. Whether in Cajun French or English, the emotional depth and storytelling traditions create a shared emotional landscape.
Blues Embracing Creole Music:
Diverse Instrumentation: Creole music boasts a rich array of instruments, including accordions, fiddles, and percussion. These instruments infuse Bluesy melodies and rhythms into the genre’s sonic tapestry, adding layers of complexity.
Spontaneous Expression: The world of Creole music shares a kinship with The Blues through a shared love for improvisation. Creole music’s liveliness and dynamic spirit welcome spontaneous expressions, akin to the improvisational magic often found in Blues performances.

Zydeco’s Bluesy Flourish:

Zydeco, stemming from Creole roots, proudly bears the Blues’ influence. Its spirited accordion-driven melodies and energetic rhythms embody The Blues’ essence while preserving its distinct identity. It’s like The Blues joined a Creole dance party, and the result is pure musical magic.

In Acadiana, South Louisiana, Cajun, Creole, and Blues traditions intertwine, creating a tapestry of shared experiences, including hardship and celebration. Both Blues, and the Cajun and Creole narratives, echo resilience and emotional depth.

Artists from these traditions have collaborated, merging melodies and stories, resulting in a harmonious dialogue that breaks genre boundaries. The blend of Cajun accordions, Creole fiddles, and Blues guitars produces a sound that celebrates mutual heritage and experience.

Such collaborations have bridged cultures, with Cajun and Creole musicians infusing Blues into their tunes, and Blues artists drawing from Acadiana’s rich storytelling rhythms. This musical synergy emphasizes diversity and authenticity.

In short, Blues, combined with Cajun and Creole traditions, forms a cultural crossroads where melodies and histories meet. This unique musical blend embodies Acadiana’s diverse heritage, showcasing music’s power to bridge cultures and echo through time. Our artist presentations further emphasize this, using storytelling to celebrate and preserve this rich tapestry.

•Introducing Blues to Kids

“The Blues is a music made by people who have faced adversity, struggled against the odds, and triumphed over them.” – Bonnie Raitt

Introducing children to Blues music enriches their cultural understanding, nurtures their musical passion, and teaches valuable life lessons. Whether you’re a parent or teacher, here are ideas to foster their appreciation for Blues and encourage creativity and resilience in challenging times:

Begin with the Basics: Start by explaining Blues music in simple terms, focusing on emotions and everyday experiences.
Explore Blues Classics: Play kid-friendly Blues classics like “B.B. King – Rock Me Baby” or “Muddy Waters – Hoochie Coochie Man” with catchy tunes.
Dive into Blues History: Share age-appropriate stories about the origins and evolution of Blues, highlighting its cultural and historical importance.
Discover Animated Videos: Utilize online animated videos that introduce Blues concepts to children in a fun and visual way.
Showcase Musical Instruments: Create a musical instruments showcase, exploring the harmonica, guitar, and piano, and explain their role in Blues.
Sing Simple Blues Songs: Teach kids repetitive Blues songs, especially those with call-and-response patterns, encouraging them to sing along and create their lyrics.
Meet Blues Legends: Introduce iconic Blues figures like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Robert Johnson, sharing intriguing facts about their lives and contributions.
Get Creative with Arts and Crafts: Organize art activities where children can make Blues-inspired artwork.
Encourage Blues Storytelling: Invite children to write or tell their own Blues-inspired stories to connect emotionally with the genre.
Experience Live Performances: If possible, take them to local Blues performances or festivals to immerse them in live music.
Incorporate Movement: Teach simple dance steps that sync with Blues rhythms, adding a physical dimension to their learning.
Embrace Multimedia: Explore interactive websites, educational apps, and documentaries designed for children to discover Blues music.
Collaborate on Projects: Organize group projects where children create their Blues band, complete with band names and even imaginary instruments.
Connect Emotionally: Encourage discussions about how Blues music makes them feel and help them identify emotions expressed in lyrics.

Remember, the goal is to make the experience enjoyable and relatable. Through these engaging activities and exposure to Blues music’s cultural roots, children can develop a lifelong appreciation for this timeless genre.

•Secrets of Storytelling

The Moth is renowned for its approach to storytelling, particularly as it pertains to real-life narratives. The Blues have been intuitively and effectively expressing real-life narratives for many years. Storytelling is both an art and a skill, and while every individual may have their unique style and voice, there are some universal principles that can help you craft a compelling story. The Blue Notes is a great place to explore the secrets of storytelling. Here are some of the best tips for storytelling, inspired by The Moth and general storytelling advice:

•   Find the Core of Your Story: Identify the key moment or series of moments that you want to focus on. It's this essence that will resonate with your audience.
•   Start Strong: Grab your listeners' attention from the very beginning. Your opening line or scene should make them want to know more.
•   End With Impact: A memorable conclusion can leave a lasting impression. Think about the message or emotion you want your listeners to take away.
•   Show, Don’t Tell: Use vivid descriptions and engaging details. Instead of saying, "I was scared," you might say, "My heart raced as the cold sweat dripped down my brow."
•   Structure Matters: A good story has a beginning, middle, and end. Ensure there's a clear arc that includes setup, conflict, and resolution.
•   Be Authentic: Authenticity resonates. Share real emotions, vulnerabilities, and moments of growth. Your listeners will connect with genuine experiences.
•   Practice, Practice, Practice: The more you tell your story, the better you'll get at telling it. Practice helps you refine the pacing, identify parts that might need clarifying, and ensure that your story remains engaging.
•   Engage Your Audience: Make eye contact, use appropriate body language, and be aware of your audience's reactions. Adjust as needed based on their engagement.
•   Keep It Personal: The best stories from The Moth and similar venues often come from personal experiences. It doesn't have to be a world-shattering event; even small, personal anecdotes can be deeply moving or entertaining.
•   Find the Universal Truth: Even though it's your personal story, there's likely a universal theme or message within it. Maybe it's about love, loss, growth, or resilience. Highlighting this universal truth can make your story resonate with a wider audience.
•   Limit Excessive Details: While details can make a story rich, too many can bog it down. Be selective about which details to include, focusing on those that enhance the narrative.
•   Vary Your Tone and Pace: Use pauses for dramatic effect, speed up during exciting moments, and slow down during introspective or emotional sections. Variation can keep your listeners engaged.
•   Revise: Like written stories, oral narratives can benefit from revision. Trim the fat, refine the language, and clarify points of confusion.
•   Get Feedback: Before presenting your story to a larger audience, share it with a few trusted individuals. Their feedback can offer invaluable insights.

Remember, every storyteller has their own voice. While these tips provide guidance, it’s essential to stay true to yourself and your unique narrative style. And as with any skill, storytelling improves with practice and dedication. So, what’s your story?

•Power of Blues Tales

The Power and Importance of Telling Tales (Storytelling):

Understanding the role of storytelling in The Blues is central to Blown Away On The Bayou’s mission and the cultural traditions we uphold. Storytelling, beyond The Blues, deeply influences our daily interactions and comprehension of one another. At the BAOTB Summit, we honor South Louisiana’s legacy of transmitting culture, music, and stories across generations. Storytelling connects us to our roots and each other. In championing The Blues, we contribute to the evolution of culture, humanity, and our individual identities.

Drawing inspiration from John Lee Hooker’s insight, “The Blues tells a story. Every line of The Blues has a meaning,” we recognize the deep human emotions embedded in The Blues. Hooker’s journey as a Blues artist highlights the significance of storytelling in this genre, which mirrors the stories in our daily lives. Let’s dive deeper into storytelling, a universal tradition that surpasses cultural, time, and geographical limits.

Transmission of Culture and Values: Throughout history, stories have served as vessels for preserving traditions, moral values, and cultural beliefs. In the absence of widespread writing, oral storytelling was the primary method of safeguarding a group’s history and ethos.

Education and Learning: Stories possess the remarkable ability to simplify complex ideas, making them more accessible. Fables, parables, and allegories, for instance, have long been used as educational tools to convey profound lessons.

Building Empathy: Engaging with a story allows us to step into another person’s shoes and experience life from their perspective. This immersive journey fosters understanding, compassion, and empathy as we traverse different settings, eras, and circumstances.

Entertainment: Stories have always been a source of entertainment, capturing our imagination and offering an escape from the ordinary. They serve as passports to distant realms and imaginative worlds.

Promotion of Critical Thinking: A well-crafted story encourages listeners or readers to think critically, analyze, and reflect. It stimulates critical thinking by prompting us to consider characters’ motivations, predict outcomes, or ponder the story’s moral implications.

Memory Enhancement: Information presented in the form of a story is often more memorable than a list of facts. Our brains are naturally inclined to recognize patterns, and stories provide a structured framework that our memories readily embrace.

Building Communities: Shared stories forge a sense of community and belonging. When people share common stories, they create shared touchpoints, references, and values that bind them together.

Therapeutic Value: Personal storytelling, the act of sharing one’s own life stories, can have therapeutic effects. It helps individuals process their experiences, gain self-understanding, and find meaning in their lives.

Driving Change: Stories can be potent tools for advocacy. Personal testimonies and narratives can shed light on societal issues, sparking change and inspiring action. Many movements have been propelled by personal stories that resonated with a broader audience.

Identity and Self-Understanding: On a personal level, the stories we tell about ourselves play a significant role in shaping our identity. They help us make sense of our experiences, define our values, and envision our future paths.

Storytelling, deeply rooted in human evolution, bridges generations, passing down knowledge and values. It’s a vital cultural communication tool. At BAOTB, artists’ presentations on the blues in their music and culture are crucial. They offer artists a platform to convey the blues’ essence and its influence on their work and culture. These discussions both enlighten and entertain, preserving the blues’ rich heritage for upcoming generations.

•Classic Blues

“Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel.” – Jimi Hendrix

Classic Blues, often referred to as “traditional Blues” or “country Blues,” emerged in the early 20th century as a powerful testament to the depth of emotional expression through music.

This genre’s origins are deeply rooted in several defining characteristics that capture its essence:

Old school….

Solo Performers: Classic Blues was anchored by solo performers who epitomized the soul of the music. These artists possessed multifaceted talents, capable of both singing and skillfully playing instruments such as the acoustic guitar or harmonica. This intimate connection between performer and instrument allowed for a direct and unfiltered bond with the audience.

Emotional Expression: The lyrics of classic Blues served as poignant narratives, delving into personal experiences, adversities, and the rawest of emotions. This music offered a cathartic outlet for sharing stories of heartbreak, struggles, and the human condition. Through soulful melodies and heartfelt verses, classic Blues encapsulated the essence of pain and hope, resonating deeply with listeners.

Simple Instrumentation: In its purest form, classic Blues embraced a stripped-down approach to instrumentation. With a focus on minimalism, many songs featured only a solitary guitar or the mournful wail of a harmonica. This simplicity accentuated the authenticity of the performance, allowing the artist’s voice and instrument to engage in a harmonious conversation.

Call and Response: A distinctive hallmark of classic Blues was the incorporation of call-and-response patterns. This dynamic interaction between the vocalist and the instrument created a musical dialogue that enriched the texture of the music and invited listeners to immerse themselves in the emotional narrative.

Slide Guitar and Bent Notes: Central to the unique sonic tapestry of classic Blues were techniques like slide guitar and bent notes. The haunting sound of the slide guitar, produced by sliding a hard object along the strings, added depth and expressiveness. Bent notes, whether in vocals or instrumentals, infused each melody with a sense of yearning and complexity.

Rooted in Folk Traditions: Classic Blues had its roots deeply entwined with African American folk traditions. Drawing inspiration from work songs, field hollers, and spirituals, this genre became a vessel for preserving cultural heritage and oral history within the community. These influences added layers of depth and resonance, connecting the music to the shared experiences of generations.

In essence, classic Blues served as a conduit for the human experience, offering a window into the lives of those who navigated adversity with resilience and artistry. The genre’s emphasis on intimate performances, emotional storytelling, and cultural heritage ensured its enduring influence, shaping the musical landscape for generations to come.

I can’t leave out R&B

Although Blown Away On The Bayou Blues and Harmonica Summit focuses on Classic Blues, it is important me, Jim Phillips, to recognize another significant genre within African American music – Rhythm and Blues. Rhythm and Blues, often abbreviated as R&B, emerged later in the 20th century, evolving from classic Blues while incorporating elements of jazz, gospel, and other genres

Stand by me…

R&B represents a more polished and commercialized sound, characterized by the following attributes:

R&B often involves larger ensembles, including rhythm sections, horns, and vocal groups. This is a departure from the solo or small group format typical of classic Blues.

As the name implies, rhythm takes center stage in R&B. This genre boasts a robust, danceable rhythm that draws inspiration from jazz and gospel, creating an irresistible groove that’s perfect for dancing. This rhythmic allure is precisely what has fueled my deep appreciation for R&B, as it aligns seamlessly with my love for dancing.

Urban Sound: R&B gained popularity in urban centers and became closely associated with the migration of African Americans from rural areas to cities. This urban influence is reflected in the sound and themes of R&B music.

Influence of Electric Instruments: Unlike classic Blues, R&B often incorporates amplified electric instruments such as electric guitars and bass, contributing to a more energetic and lively sound.

Blues Progressions with Modern Elements: R&B songs frequently employ the same 12-bar Blues progressions found in classic Blues but may introduce more complex chord changes and modern song structures.

Commercialization and Radio Play: R&B achieved commercial success with increased radio play and chart performance. It laid the foundation for the development of rock and roll and continues to influence various contemporary music genres.

While classic Blues and R&B share some common roots, their distinct characteristics reflect the evolution of African American music through different periods and social contexts. Classic Blues maintains a raw, emotive quality deeply rooted in personal experiences, while R&B developed a more polished and commercially accessible sound, with a pronounced emphasis on rhythm and ensemble performances.

The Blues became a commercial success….

•Diving into The Blues

Taking a cue from Bluesman John Lee Hooker’s observation that “The Blues tells a story. Each line is profound,” and to dive into The Blues, we must travel into that uncomfortable and profound dark side of the human experience. To explore The Blues we must examine it through the African American experience. We must start by delving into the stark reality of slavery, a haunting tale fraught with unimaginable trials. From the depths of that harrowing chapter in African American history, a remarkable narrative unfolds – one of unwavering resilience, unyielding determination, and the breathtaking artistry that arose from despair.

Each line is profound…

This music doesn’t merely hum melodies; it resonates with the haunting echoes of chains, the anguish of lost freedom, and the stifled voices of the oppressed. It transforms pain into haunting riffs that pierce the soul. The Blues found its roots in the aftermath of slavery, echoing the indomitable spirit and creativity of African Americans who, despite enduring the harshest conditions, persevered for generations. These extraordinary individuals, long after the end of slavery, turned their suffering into soul-stirring melodies that continue to resonate today.

Of course, the shadows of slavery are just one layer. And, sure, aspects like the poignant call-and-response have roots in those bitter times. But The Blues isn’t just about its early days in slavery. It’s all about its growth, its heroes, and the cool way it’s shaped cultures around the world.

The Blues? Huge deal. It’s bursting with emotions and covers all of life’s ups and downs, connecting people through common tales. Every word sung is about the hard times, hopes, and the wild rides life takes us on. Even if we haven’t personally endured the trials of yesteryears, there’s a hint of The Blues within each of us, and that’s precisely why it strikes a chord in our souls.

In the tradition of African storytelling…

20th Century Migration and Musical Shift:
The Great Migration of the 20th century breathed new life into The Blues, mirroring the migration from the Southern rural heartlands to the vibrant urban North. As the raw Delta sounds transformed into electrifying Chicago vibes, this genre’s adaptability became a testament to the artistic resilience of a community. This historic movement, occurring in two significant waves from approximately 1916 to 1940 and then from 1941 to 1970, not only reshaped The Blues but also reshaped the cultural landscape of America.

Its impact on contemporary music genres is unmistakable. From jazz’s soulful depth to the electrifying energy of rock and the storytelling prowess of hip-hop, The Blues stands as the foundational cornerstone of modern music. Beyond its melodies, it serves as a potent voice, chronicling the African American experience, confronting injustices, and celebrating unity. Every note and lyric transcends mere sound, embodying protest, hope, and the spirit of community.

The legendary figures of the Blues, such as Robert Johnson and Bessie Smith, are celebrated not only for their musical mastery but also for their tales of unwavering determination. These stories continue to resonate, bridging the gap between the past and the present, and reminding us of the enduring power of the human spirit.

Sometimes The Blues are scary…

In the echoes of the American South, where The Blues rhythm pulsated through every juke joint in rural areas and resonated in the clubs of the cities, legends like Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb set the tone. However, it is important to recognize a turn in the evolutionary wheel – while these Blues melodies were once the heartbeats of these places, by the time passionate white enthusiasts sought to rediscover these lost or overlooked talents, the African American community had evolved their musical tastes and had moved on to other expressions of The Blues.

These Blues icons, once confined to their farms, were ushered back into the spotlight – think of grand stages like the Newport Folk Festival and revamped recording sessions. And as their melodies reverberated, not only did their renown grow, but so did their financial stature. Yet, it’s noteworthy that their new admirers weren’t from the Black communities they hailed from. Instead, it was the white beatniks, college enthusiasts, radicals, and hipsters who stood in awe of their musical prowess. It seems to me, that white music enthusiasts are often late-bloomers.

Venturing across the Atlantic, these Blues-infused notes stirred the souls of young white musicians, including the iconic Clapton, Richards, and Jagger. Their undeniable inspirations drew deep from the wellsprings of Blues legends, forging connections that still resonate today.

Reflect for a moment on the Harlem Summer of Soul festival in 1969: B.B. King, the embodiment of authentic Blues, stood as the sole ambassador, gracing even the legendary Woodstock stage. Meanwhile, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Son House – though reintroduced to the world half a decade earlier – remained conspicuously absent. This wasn’t an oversight but rather a reflection of the evolving musical preferences within the African American community, a sentiment that endures to this day.

And let’s dive into another Bluesy tidbit: In 1965, The Rolling Stones made their stand on the American TV show ‘Shindig!’, insisting that the legendary Howlin’ Wolf share the stage with them. Interestingly, their revered idol, Muddy Waters, wouldn’t join them until ’81, a mere year before his final curtain call, leaving a poignant Blues legacy that continues to echo through the ages.

BAOTB: Where The Blues Connects, Resonates, and Thrives
The Blues? Born deep in the heart of the South, it’s the ultimate unifier. A potent blend of culture, a loudspeaker for the masses, and the cornerstone of today’s musical tapestry. Folks! The Blues? It takes life’s toughest moments and transforms them into electrifying riffs, ensuring those timeless rhythms not only endure but groove right alongside us in the present.

Now, when it comes to immersing ourselves in the groove, BAOTB is no mere playtime. We’ve carved out this explosive space where all of us – whether part of the staff or participants – can dive headfirst, feel The Blues in real-time, and truly connect with its very soul. Whether you’re jamming, learning, or simply soaking up the vibes, BAOTB ensures that everyone is locked into that soul-stirring rhythm, forging a community where The Blues thrives, resonates, and anchors us in its storied history and timeless allure. So, let’s crank it up a notch, pluck those strings a little harder, pour our hearts into it, elevate our dance moves – crank the volume and let BAOTB lead the way!

•Dedication

I am dedicating the Blue Notes in memory of David Egan, the esteemed pianist, singer, and songwriter, renowned for his warmth and heartfelt compositions. Christy and I met David around 1994 when it was taboo to have a piano on stage with a Cajun band. But David was such a force of musical nature that rules did not apply. Besides having built an amazing and rocketing songwriting career, he was playing with 2 of our favorite “Cajun” groups – Hadley Castille and The Sharecroppers Cajun Band, and, Filé. Of course, these groups and these musicians, like David, could not be limited to other people’s closed-in ideas about what “Cajun music” meant. It is hard to put true creativity into a box – Cajun, Creole, Louisiana Soul, Blues, Louisiana Blues Ballads?

Miss you, David… You had a big ol’ heart….

Here we are almost 30 years later having a Blues Summit at The Whirlybird Compound – and when I think of The Blues in my life, David Egan comes to mind. David would have loved BAOTB and would have wanted to participate. His memory will be with us.


David Egan, who passed away in 2016, is celebrated through “Sing It! The David Egan Songbook,” a tribute tour across Louisiana, featuring an array of accomplished musicians.
Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, C.C. Adcock, Roddie Romero, Kristin Diable, Papa Mali, David Torkanowsky, Kevin Gordon, Buddy Flett, and Steve Riley are among the artists paying homage to Egan by performing selections from his extensive catalog. This tour, organized by C.C. Adcock and Todd Mouton in collaboration with Egan’s widow, Rhonda, supports the David Egan Dreamer Fund under the Community Foundation of Acadiana, preserving his creative legacy.
Egan’s compositions, celebrated for their storytelling, have left an indelible mark. His songs, covered by legends like Joe Cocker, Etta James, Solomon Burke, and Percy Sledge, connected deeply with life experiences and emotions. For Irma Thomas, Egan’s songs, such as “If You Knew,” carried profound personal significance, forging an enduring bond between artist and songwriter.
In his final interview with Walter Pierce for The Independent, Egan reflected on the wealth of music and love he would leave behind, emphasizing the unbreakable circle of connection with his fans and friends. As the “Sing It!” tour echoes his melodies, David Egan’s songs and spirit continue to live on.

- As described by Keith Spera in The Advocate on March 22, 2017.
David Egan Songbook
The Cat Head Biscuit Boys – David Egan’s “Creole Tomato” – with Bruce (RIP) “Weisel” MacDonald

•Blues Insights

“Blues is a state of mind, a way of feeling.” – Taj Mahal


A way of feeling….

Big thoughts to ponder in these Blue Notes, whether you’re a baby-stepper or an aficionado, there are always things to contemplate that can enrich our experience…

The Soulful Narrative of Blues: Blues, with its heartfelt lyrics and melodies, reflects the essence of the human spirit, navigating love, pain, resilience, and the collective spirit of a community.

African Roots and Evolution: Emerging from the rhythmic traditions of West Africa, the Blues served as a guiding light for African Americans, first during the era of slavery and later amidst societal transformations.

The Geography of Sound: From the haunting sounds of the Mississippi Delta to the lively rhythms of Chicago, each region infused the Blues with its unique flavor, enriching its musical journey with fresh tones and subtleties.

More Than Music: Beyond its melodies and rhythms, the Blues weaves a rich tapestry of American culture, history, and emotions. Its core tells a timeless story of raw emotion, unveiling narratives of love, sorrow, loss, and determination.

The Universal Language: Through its lyrics, the Blues captures the aspirations and vulnerabilities of humanity, intricately weaving individual stories into timeless truths. It fosters a sacred connection, bridging worlds through shared emotions.

The Power of Storytelling: The Blues is both an intimate whisper of love and a bold call for societal change. Its storytelling prowess transcends eras, transforming personal tales into global epics of universal significance.

A Testament to Human Connection: With its candid verses, the Blues encapsulates the essence of human experience, forging connections, sparking conversations, and continually echoing the deep bonds of our shared humanity.

A Tribute to Resilience: In every note, beat, and lyric, the Blues pays homage to the unwavering spirit of a community and remains a timeless symbol of the emotions that unite us all.

I”ve got The Blues, Baby….

•Our Story

At BAOTB, we primarily began to spotlight Traditional Blues and its defining voices. But in true form, we also gravitate towards the unique sounds of Acadiana and South Louisiana. Hosting at The Whirlybird Compound adds that extra cultural dimension. Down here, we have various terms for it – Mojo, Lagniappe, Bayou Charm… But whatever the label, it’s that unique “je ne sais quoi” that captivates us. Dive deep with me as we explore this intangible, yet truly immersive enchantment….

Your feedback, whether as a BAOTB attendee or a Whirlybirder, is invaluable, influencing our shared narrative and refining our endeavors. Friends not only inspire but also enrich our story. Like musicians worldwide, who come together to jam, and to blend their personal and cultural tales into harmonious music, I eagerly anticipate our BAOTB gathering, with storytelling at its heart, centered on The Blues.

For over 16 years, our creative community has gathered at The Whirlybird. These bonds form the foundation of Christy’s and my creative work. With BAOTB, we’re embarking on a new chapter in our creative journey. Let’s rally again, this time spotlighting The Blues, particularly its influence in Acadiana.

I’ve always been passionate about storytelling, and want it to be a central theme in promoting BAOTB. So, to kick things off, let me share how the BAOTB vision originated…


Once upon a time…

It might sound cliché, but it’s as authentic as the Spanish moss on our huge oak trees out in front. Envision a sunset over the sugarcane fields on the West side of highway LA-182, directly across from our big oaks. Christy Leichty, Grant Dermody, and I, Jim Phillips, were engrossed in a new-found tea-and-pie ritual. It was like a cultural “first date.” As friendships often start, we exchanged stories about our paths to this culturally rich region and our shared attraction to its dynamic arts and interactions. Pure connection.

Grant Dermody, a core partner in BAOTB, with his distinctive spiritual insight, spoke of his musical journey to Southwest Louisiana and his collaborations with local artists like Dirk Powell. Beyond his musical successes here, Grant harbored a vision: a harmonica and Blues summit, uniting top Blues talent to exchange music, stories, and inspiration.

Now, a bit about Christy Leichty and me. We’ve journeyed together for three decades, and folks know our love for cultural escapades, fun, and yes, dancing. We have hosted well over 300 “underground” cultural and artistic events at our beloved Whirlybird honky tonk. Our chats with Grant sparked a creative and spiritual flame. Starting simply, over Grant’s pie, our shared zeal blossomed. Together, we envisioned a harmonica and Blues summit, kindled by the fervor unique to close partners and, of course, a love for pie.

When Grant shared his vision, I instantly thought of The Whirlybird Compound. That chat sowed the BAOTB seed. Over time, and more of Grant’s pies, we nourished and honed the concept, celebrating The Blues against South Louisiana’s Acadiana backdrop. Christy aptly named it “Blown Away On the Bayou,” capturing the region’s essence, history, and the magic of a Blues harmonica here.

My bond with The Blues runs deep. Meeting Grant, we quickly found mutual connections. He was working with many local musicians I knew. Our bond ignited when discussing my time with James Cotton at Jack’s, a memorable San Francisco joint near the famed Fillmore. Grant and I instantly connected, united by our shared musical passion.

Our chats about The Blues, San Francisco memories, and the idea of a Blues Summit deepened this bond. Grant became my inside guide to traditional Blues. We did more than dream; we planned. We aimed for an immersive Blues experience, and we set to work.

For BAOTB, we talked about graphic designs that would echo both Louisiana and our event’s vibe. The first image for 2022 was a stained-glass gator design that Grant transferred to T-shirts. As I continued to craft more gators on my digital painting palette, we all agreed on the 2023 BAOTB gator with shades, belting out a song. This choice perfectly embodied our spirit and told our story.

After the 2022 summit, my intrigue with The Blues deepened, inspiring these “Blue Notes.” I wanted to do more than create cool images. These Blue Notes are a heartfelt contribution. Leveraging my educational roots and my love for storytelling, I aim to explore and illuminate The Blues’ richness.

This adventure began with a simple conversation among friends. Grant’s vision for a Blues Summit and Christy and my Whirlybird experiences set the stage for this enriching Blues journey.


Tales, Techniques, and Tunes – Blown Away On The Bayou’s 3 T’s:

How do Grant, Christy and I hope the BAOTB story evolves, you may ask? Here in the Blue Notes’ intro – which is the telling of our story – it’s vital to highlight South Louisiana’s age-old custom of passing down culture, music techniques, and stories from one soul to another. The very essence of what BAOTB stands for is a tribute to this age-old ritual of sharing Tales, Techniques, and Tunes.

I like to think that BAOTB isn’t just another event; it’s a living testament to cultural traditions. Here, the core of The Blues, the artistry of the harmonica, the emotions of the human voice, and the Bluesy tones of all the other instruments come alive through human bonds and shared moments. BAOTB isn’t just about music; it’s about a promise to honor the old ways that transcend generations – and here in South Louisiana it’s about sharing live music, good food, dancing, storytelling – and sometimes good libations…

We’ve got a line-up of masterful musicians at BAOTB, each a keeper of distinct musical secrets. They’re here, not just to perform but to share their craft personally and tell their stories. Attendees get a front-row seat to this cultural and artistic magic, an experience that’s richer than any recording or, indeed, all the words in these Blue Notes.

Join us from October 18-22, 2023, in South Louisiana. With BAOTB, we’ll immerse in Blues rhythms, share stories, and honor our musical legacy. It’s our tribute to The Blues’ past and a beacon for its future. Be part of this unfolding tale.

Let The Blues spirit carry you, and may you forever be “Blown Away On the Bayou.”

Warmly,
Jim Phillips,
His Humbleness, Fun Boss at The Whirlybird, or any other great title that will stick to the wall of fun-loving imagination…
You can find me @ http://thewhirlybird.com

•The Term “Blues”

Y’all, the term “BLUES” originated in the late 19th century among African American communities in the Southern United States to describe a deeply emotional and often melancholic musical genre that sprang directly from personal and communal experiences and struggles, with its popularity and influence growing over the 20th century. By 1912, the term appeared in publications like the song sheet for “Dallas Blues.” The song “Dallas Blues” from 1912 is credited to Hart A. Wand (music) and Lloyd Garrett (lyrics). It is one of the earliest published Blues songs. 1912 was a significant year for the commercial documentation of Blues. Aside from “Dallas Blues,” another early published Blues song from that year was “Memphis Blues” by W.C. Handy. W.C. Handy is often referred to as the “Father of The Blues” due to his role in popularizing the genre. While “Memphis Blues” wasn’t the first Blues song, its publication played a pivotal role in introducing The Blues to a broader audience and laying groundwork for the genre’s commercial success.

The association of The Blues with deep emotion and personal experiences is multi-faceted. At its core, as a cultural expression born in African American communities, Blues music provided a platform to voice feelings and collective histories. This sentiment of hardship, heartache, and oppression resonated deeply due to the shared history of slavery and discrimination. Adding depth to these emotions were the distinct vocal and instrumental traits of the genre. Soulful singing combined with instruments like guitars and harmonicas lent a unique emotional resonance to The Blues.

Furthermore, the history of the Blues genre is intricately interwoven with significant social transformations. Events like the Great Migration not only facilitated the dissemination of the Blues but also served as a poignant reflection of community struggles encapsulated in its lyrics and themes. Additionally, the early 20th-century recording industry played a pivotal role by expanding the Blues’ reach and allowing its influence to permeate other musical genres, most notably jazz, rock, and R&B.

Deep into The Blues…

While the Blues has its deep roots in the African American experience, it has indelibly left its mark on global cultures. The British Blues movement of the 1960s, spearheaded by bands like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, not only embraced but also evolved the genre, decisively shaping the trajectory of rock music. In Latin America, musicians artfully blended their traditional sounds with the Blues, resulting in a distinctive and compelling musical fusion. With the advent of increased global connectivity, artists from every corner of the world began infusing Blues elements into their compositions, tapping into the universal resonance of human experiences.

However, it’s essential to recognize that every culture possesses its own musical genres that echo the thematic depth reminiscent of the Blues. Examples such as Portugal’s melancholic “Fado,” Greece’s urban “Rebetiko,” and Argentina’s passionate “Tango” underscore the universality of musical expression. They serve as testaments to music’s innate capacity to capture shared human emotions and stories, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries.

The adoption of “BLUES” beyond its Black American origins occasionally sparks concerns of cultural appropriation, igniting debates about the fine line between paying homage and misrepresentation. Some express concerns about a potential dilution or distortion of the genre’s core essence, while others view it as a tribute to the Blues’ adaptability, influence, and enduring vitality. These discussions emphasize the significance of mutual respect and understanding in navigating the complex terrain of cultural intersections.

In the realm of rock and roll, two iconic bands from the 1960s and 1970s, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, found themselves ensnared in controversies surrounding their interpretations and borrowings from the Blues genre.

The Rolling Stones, profoundly influenced by American Blues maestros, faced criticism regarding their approach to this genre. Some purists accused them of cultural appropriation, contending that they were profiting from a musical style deeply rooted in the African American experience without offering due acknowledgment. While Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the band’s primary songwriters, consistently acknowledged their love for the Blues and its profound impact on their music, these controversies prompted the band to become more vocal about their admiration for the Blues and their unwavering support for the original Blues artists.

Over time, the Rolling Stones actively worked to bestow recognition upon Blues trailblazers like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf by covering their songs and inviting them to share the stage. These efforts played a crucial role in introducing a new generation to the authentic Blues artists who had been the wellspring of inspiration for the band.

Baby, please don’t go….

Led Zeppelin, another British rock colossus, grappled with allegations of plagiarism stemming from their use of Blues riffs and lyrics. Some of their early tracks, including “Whole Lotta Love” and “The Lemon Song,” drew heavy criticism for borrowing extensively from Blues classics without providing proper credit. This led to legal disputes, eventually culminating in Led Zeppelin settling copyright infringement cases.
While Led Zeppelin masterfully integrated Blues elements into their music, they faced backlash for not consistently acknowledging the original Blues artists. However, with the passage of time, they became increasingly cognizant of this issue and took active steps to recognize their Blues influences.

In conclusion and in both instances, these controversies cast a spotlight on the intricate nuances of borrowing from a genre deeply entrenched in history and culture. While these bands played a pivotal role in introducing fresh audiences to the Blues, they also faced justified scrutiny for their handling of this musical genre. Ultimately, these controversies ignited crucial conversations about cultural appropriation, artistic inspiration, and the imperative act of crediting the trailblazers who laid the foundation for these musical styles.