‘AUTHENTIC, ONE-OF-A-KIND EXPERIENCE’: LOOKING AT THE 2017 BATON ROUGE BLUES FEST
BY JOHN WIRT, APRIL 5, 2017
In the past few years, nationally known headliners Buddy Guy, Dr. John and Delbert McClinton drew big crowds to the Baton Rouge Blues Festival. In 2016, an estimated 50,000 people attended the two-day, free festival.
This year, blues-rock band the Fabulous Thunderbirds tops the bill. But beyond the Thunderbirds and some others, Blues Festival organizers are sticking to their 90-90 booking policy — 90 percent of the talent hails from a 90-mile radius around Baton Rouge.
“That’s important to communicate to everyone,” said Clarke Gernon, board president of the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, the festival’s presenting sponsor. “This is a festival made from this place. A lot of the artists are from Baton Rouge, but also from the areas right around us. There’s so much music here.”
“We want to give the audience and the performers a truly authentic, one-of-a-kind experience,” said Blues Festival chairman Chris Brooks.
Because there’s so much local talent — and so much music to be heard at the festival — Gernon, Brooks and other festival organizers hope that festival patrons will attend full days at the event rather than arrive late to only hear a headlining act.
A day at the festival can be a more complete festival experience, organizers say. Also, more time spent at the festival can translate to more food, drink and merchandise sales and more donations. All of that helps sustain the festival and secure its future.