MayFest! 2013 looks forward to being the best ever as we celebrate the Louey! MayFest has been named the 2012 Festival of the Year for Louisiana by the Louisiana Travel & Promotion Association, and awarded the coveted Louey. “Louey awards are presented to tourism professionals who go to great lengths to enhance the state’s $10.1 billion tourism industry that employs one out of every eleven Louisiana citizens,” said Darienne Mobley, Co-Executive Director, LTPA.
Darienne also said, “More than thirty years ago, this festival started out as a one-day sidewalk art show and has evolved into one of the largest festivals between Many and Lake Charles. The two-day event features arts, crafts, food, entertainment, a 5k fun run/walk known as the Armadillo Stampede that benefits the Association of the United States Army, and a pancake breakfast benefitting the Louisiana Lion’s Camp for Crippled Children.”
MayFest will be held on Third Street in Leesville, the heart of the Leesville National Register Historic District, and celebrates Louisiana Arts, Crafts, Music, and Food on Friday, May 3rd and Saturday, May 4th. MayFest begins Friday afternoon with the vendors area opening at 4:00pm. The free outdoor concert music begins at 5:00pm as Leesville’s very own Sarah Beth Terry Bonner takes the stage. Immediately thereafter, Cody Cooke hits the stage. One part Hank…one part Jamey…one part Skynyrd…and 100% Outlaw Country, Cody was raised on the Texas-Louisiana state line. Cody Cooke is country music. He lives, eats, and sleeps country music. The words to his songs are based on his life experiences. Born in Mansfield, Cody grew up cruising the back roads, fishing the best creeks, and sipping the finest shine that the south has to offer. Cody’s music offers hints of his favorite influences from Hank 1, 2 and 3, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, David Allan Coe, Travis Tritt, and Tony Joe White to newer artists such as Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, and Brantley Gilbert. His sound is truly classic outlaw country with a rockin’ sound -turned up to eleven. He’s only been writing music for the past few years, but in the first year of hitting the stage, he has played with a who’s who of country music stars. The future is bright for Cody Cooke and his Bayou Outlaws.
Friday’s line-up continues with the Legend Band, followed by Friday headliners The Sidemen. All of the members of The Sidemen are seasoned musicians who play with prominent regional artists, thus the name Sidemen. The Sidemen have backed Jerry Beach, BB Majors, the Harmon Drew Super Group, Roques Blues Band, Lady Zeno, Hardrick Rivers and Eli Haydell, just to name a few. In 2002, they opened for Jerry Lee Lewis and Keith Urban. The Sidemen play a wide range of music. They are comfortable with Jazz, Blues, R&B, Classic Rock, Swing and Oldies. Henry Reggans is featured on keyboards and vocals for the Sidemen. Well known in the gospel world, Henry has been playing professionally for over twenty-five years. His early band “Earth Movement” opened for acts like the Bar Kays, Confunkshun, Frank Beverly & Maze and LDT. He currently plays with the Sidemen and Roques Blues Band as well as keeping a full gospel schedule. Henry acknowledges God first in everything he does, and believes “good things come to those who wait patiently.”
Saturday morning, May 4th, starts with a bang—the bang of the starting pistol of the annual AUSA Armadillo Stampede, which will begin at 8:00am at the Veteran’s Memorial Plaza located on Third Street. Check out the AUSA Armadillo Stampede on Facebook for more info. Also on Saturday, the Leesville Lion’s Club will host its annual Pancake breakfast starting at 7:00am at the Vernon Parish National Register Historic Courthouse. This annual event benefits the Louisiana Lions Camp for Crippled Children.
The opening ceremonies for Mayfest will begin at 9:00am at the stage in front of the Courthouse. Musical entertainment will kick off its continuous run on-stage at the Courthouse at 10:00am with Landry & Co., a 3-piece family band from Northwest Louisiana made up of 15-year-old Landry Wilkinson on Guitar, 9-year-old little brother Cardis Wilkinson on Bass and Keys, and dad Steve Wilkinson on Drums. The band plays a style of classic rock, blues and country in the likes of ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, BB King, Stevie Wonder, Eagles, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Journey, and many others as well as their original tunes. Although the boys are rather young, they have already gained plenty of experience playing on large stages in front of large crowds of people. The band is set to release an album of all original songs in the Spring of this year.
The day’s live entertainment continues with live performances by the Old Man Band and Bodine Orchestra. Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs will take the stage next. The band was formed nearly 20 years ago in Natchitoches by a group of friends getting together to jam and play a few parties. It has grown into one of the south’s best known and in-demand show bands. The Moondogs feature 10 to 12 pieces of blistering, high-energy rock, R&B, swing, funk, soul, zydeco, country, and just about any other genre of music you can imagine. Led by front man Johnny Earthquake, the band relies heavily on the angelic harmonies of its duo of female singers: “The Lovely Moonbeams”, and well as one of the tightest and funkiest horn sections anywhere: “The Horny Boys”. The Moondogs have an extensive repertoire of hits from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, through today. They can turn any event into Mardi Gras with their New Orleans flavored set, and are sure to make LSU and Saints fans happy with their renditions of those teams’ songs. The band has won many awards over the years, been featured in countless magazines and periodicals, and even appeared on national television. Along the way, they even found time to record three CD’s of their music, all to widespread critical acclaim and airplay. They’ve also had one of their songs appear in a Hollywood movie!
The Moondogs will be followed by Marcus Davis at 1:45pm. Josh Hyde will take the stage an hour later. Josh was born March 4th, 1969 in Baton Rouge. He spent most of his youth in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The echoes of blues, jazz and zydeco were part of the landscape. Some of his local influences were Tabby Thomas, Larry Garner and Silas Hogan. A singer/songwriter and guitarist, he produced his first CD in 1998 with the help of Jamey Bell entitled All You Need Is Soul. Working in collaboration with Sonny Landreth on the title track, this album is a mixture of blues, soul and roots. Since then, he has released two more independent CD’s—The Edge of Love and Dark Side. The second project, The Edge of Love, was released in 2000. Working with Grammy nominated piano player and song writer Steve Conn, this CD blends many different influences from jazz to New Orleans rhythms to sultry ballads. Recorded with his band, the Hitchhikers, the 2004 release of Dark Side was the product of over 2 years in the studio and live cuts. Josh will also feature tracks from his brand new album with The Hitchhikers, titled The Green Room, which is available now.
Following Josh’s set, Hank Staples and Thunder Creek will take the stage. The band has now been playing for well over two decades, and has been an opening act for some of Nashville’s biggest stars, including Shenandoah, Tim McGraw, John Anderson, T. Graham Brown, and Ricky Skaggs, among others. They have also played their unique brand music at some of the South’s biggest fairs and festivals, delighting those in attendance and making new fans at every stop. Hank carries the torch of traditional country music while incorporating some Louisiana style southern rock grittiness that has garnered him notoriety across the South. In addition to being a singer/songwriter and Nashville recording artist, Hank has been referred to by many as one of the best vocalists in Louisiana, a great entertainer and a true southern gentleman.
Megan Miller will take the stage at 5:45pm, followed by Mia Borders at 7:15pm. Mia has captured the attention of both local and national audiences with her energetic blend of funk, soul, and contemporary songwriting. Offbeat Magazine’s Alex Rawls writes, “Note to self: Pay more attention to Mia Borders,” and USA today named Mia one of the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s “hidden surprises”. The April 2010 release of her second full-length album, Magnolia Blue earned her a nomination for Best Emerging Artist at the Big Easy Music Awards, as well as a nationally broadcast performance at N.O. Jazz Fest ‘10. She hit the road and performed at Mount Helena Music Fest, San Jose Jazz Fest, Taos Mountain Music Fest, Voodoo Fest, Bonnaroo (VIP pre-party with Big Sam’s Funky Nation), the Kennedy Center, VOW Festival, and Gretna Fest, among other notable venues. When she opened for Corinne Bailey Rae at the House of Blues New Orleans in September 2010, “Borders drew the crowd in and had them cheering for more,” according to NewOrleans.com. With this and much more ahead, Mia Borders has secured her role as one of the fastest rising artists from New Orleans.
The outstanding MayFest musical lineup will culminate with a concert by Big Sam’s Funky Nation at 9:00pm. Big Sam’s Funky Nation is a driving force of urban funk. Ryan White of the Oregonian says the band is “tight enough (and hot enough) to turn coal into a diamond!” The band is led by trombone powerhouse, Big Sam Williams, formerly the trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, who the San Francisco Chronicle calls “the top man on the slide trombone in the birthplace of jazz.” Big Sam refuses to let the audience sit still. Between the band’s solos, Big Sam’s signature dance moves and his distinctive trombone riffs, the energy level is always electric when this band takes the stage! The Funky Nations is a stellar group of world-class musicians who consistently rise to meet the challenges of their funky band leader. BSFN’s signature Noladelic Powerfunk sound masterfully combines a rock sensibility with the improv-style associated with jazz and the horn-heavy front section that’s the hallmark of big band funk.
In addition to stellar live music on the main stage, MayFest will also include a Gospel Stage with performances from 10:00am until 6:00pm on Saturday. In between enjoying the live music sets, festival-goers can enjoy the showcase of talents of arts and crafts vendors from all over Louisiana, as well as from Texas. Wood-workers, quilters, candle-makers, jelly-makers, iron-workers, leather-workers, etc. will be showing and selling their crafts. Come take advantage of the opportunities to see, appreciate, and buy these pieces of hand-crafted art. Demonstrating artists will be on-hand, showcasing their special talents for everyone to see.
Children’s activities make up a large part of the MayFest experience. Children and parents can get down and create their very own works of art from chalk at the Leesville Rotary Club’s Chalk-a-Block area. Vendors throughout the area will have children’s toys and crafts for sale.
A very special event this year is the inclusion of a hands-on Sci-port: Louisiana’s Science Center Exhibit from Shreveport. Sci-port has recently received the Louisiana Travel & Promotion Association’s 2012 Louey Award for the Attraction of the Year. Sci-Port’s programs have served over 2 million people from throughout the United States. Today, Sci-Port actively engages people of all ages to explore the worlds of science, space science, technology and math through school and public workshops, teacher development workshops, camp-ins, birthday party programs, after-hours events, guest program presenters and summer camps.