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.”

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 @

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