The temperature’s not the only thing heating up in Cenla this month. Live music abounds across the area! Kicked off by Independence Day celebrations, Cenla continues Jammin’ in July with a variety of rock, soul, country, folk, indie and more every week this month!
Join Huckleberry Brewing Co. for the Keep Jammin’ Fest 2023 Kickoff party! Every year over Labor Day Weekend, Huckleberry Brewing hosts Keep Jammin’ Festival, a benefit for the Keep Jammin’ for Kids Fund with the Central Louisiana Community Foundation. The purpose of this fund is to raise money for music education and instruments for local children and schools in need to help foster the arts in our community. Over the past few years, with the help of community support, the Fest has donated close to $20,000 worth of musical instruments in the area! On Friday, July 7th, starting at 7:00pm, Huckleberry Brewing will host a party for the release of this year’s Fest lineup, featuring quite an ensemble of groups to carry y’all through Labor Day Weekend! Tickets for the big unveil are just $8.00. The event will also feature the release of this year’s fest t-shirts and posters with all proceeds benefiting the Keep Jammin’ for Kids Fund. In addition, Huckleberry will also launch a new Keep Jammin’ Fest Amber Ale in cans and on draft, so be sure to come thirsty! Lastly, it wouldn’t be a Keep Jammin’ Fest kickoff without some awesome jams, so come catch Bourbon Street’s own “Brokedown Streetcar” as they bring some NOLA sound up North!
The next day, the Huckleberry Brewing Co. Summer Concert Series resumes with Cane River Soul on Saturday, July 8th. The series continues on Friday, July 14th with Friendly Jeans; Straight Shot Home on Saturday, July 15th; The Set-Ups on Saturday, July 22nd; and rounds out the month with Rock the Huck 10 on Saturday, July 29th.
Critically acclaimed married honky tonk Americana/country duo, The Waymores, will bring their unique sound to the patio at Spirits Food & Friends on Thursday, July 13th ahead of the August release of their forthcoming third studio album, “Greener Pastures”. Willie Heath Neal and Kira Annalise play authentic country music with an Americana flourish, combining elements of folk, blues, and honky tonk into an instantly recognizable sound. Kira was a new mom when she began singing. Initially signing on for one show with her brother’s band in 2006, she continued to perform at shows over a couple of years due to unexpectedly falling in love with live performance at her second gig. She met Willie in 2007 and had the thought, “I want everything that is on stage right now—him, the music, everything.”
The duo produce, book, and manage themselves and love being on the road. This strong and dedicated indie work ethic has led to touring 200 days per year, resulting 100,000+ all time streams on Spotify, several awards, and Kira being sought after by a huge booking agency for her touring and routing skills. “Some people assume it’s hard touring together as a couple and living out of a van for more than half the year. It’s not for us. If we’re home too long, we start to get snippy with each other. Once we’re on the road, life is blissful. He’s my best friend and I’m truly honored to be working alongside him.”
The jams keep coming to the Sunset Club at Spirits from 6:00pm to 9:00pm each Thursday night. In addition to the Waymores, the July line-up features great live music from both local and national artists. Rod Baronet takes the stage on July 20th, and the Kelli Roberts Band closes out the month on the 27th.
It’s a summer of country music in Avoyelles Parish. Paragon Casino Resort welcomes one of country music’s most authentic performers on Saturday, July 15th when Frank Foster and special guest Trea Landon take the Mári Showroom stage. Born in Claiborne Parish, Foster acts as his own record label, management, booking agency, and publishing company. This rural Louisiana native and former oilfield man has taken his songs from the campfire to the coliseum seemingly overnight, all the while gaining a following of fans whose loyalty is unmatched. His musical journey started in 2011 with the release of his first album “Rowdy Reputation”. To follow that up, in the late summer of 2012, he released his second album “Red Wings and Six Strings” which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s South Central U.S. Heat Seeker’s chart. Foster’s next five albums also all debuted on the Billboard Country Charts. In 2018, he released his seventh album, “‘Til I’m Gone”, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Country Album Sales Charts, giving Foster his highest mark yet. Doors open at 7:00pm with showtime set for 8:00pm.
On Friday, July 28th, the country keeps coming with Neal McCoy live on the Mári Showroom stage. McCoy has released fifteen studio albums on various labels, and has released 34 singles to country radio. In 1993, he broke through with the back-to-back number 1 singles “No Doubt About It” and “Wink” from his platinum-certified album “No Doubt About It”. His commercial success continued into the late 1990s with two more platinum albums and a gold album, as well as six more Top Ten hits. Neal has been on 15 USO Tours around the world and continues to say it’s one of the achievements he’s most proud of. He is also the recipient of multiple humanitarian awards from The Academy of Country Music, The Country Radio Broadcasters and The Masonic Grand Lodge. Neal also supports his own charity organization: East Texas Angel Network, which is committed to the enhancement of the lives of children of East Texas who are living with terminal or life-threatening diseases. McCoy takes the stage at 8:00pm, with doors opening at 7:00pm. For tickets to the Frank Foster and Neal McCoy shows, respectively, or for more information, visit www.paragoncasinoresort.com.
The 43rd Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held on Saturday, July 22nd in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum, located at 220 South Jefferson Street at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. The festival’s curated showcase of Louisiana folk musicians, food vendors, and traditional crafts persons will open at 9:00am, with a full slate of live entertainment scheduled for 10:00am to 9:30pm. The family-oriented festival is fully wheelchair accessible. Tickets are $10.00 at the door for all events, or $6.00 for an evening pass to all events after 5:00pm. Children 12 and under are admitted free.
The festival offers three stages of music, with performances by Mississippi bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Rusty Metoyer and the Zydeco Krush, the Jambalaya Cajun Band, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, the Broussard Family Juré, the Louisiana Czech Heritage Dancers, los Rancheritos de la Sierra, the Cajun Stompers, the Russell Welch Hot Quartet with special guest Aurora Nealand, traditional Native American songs and dances with the Rising Sun Youth Choctaw-Apache of Ebarb Dance Group, and a Hank Williams, Sr. tribute by Hugh Harris and the Drifting Cowboys.
In honor of this year’s theme, Celebrating Louisiana’s Cultural Gumbo, the festival will see the long-awaited return of the Gumbo Cookoff, in which professionals and hobbyists alike can compete in one of multiple categories and demonstrate their cooking skills. Registration and the Cooks’ Meeting will take place at 8:00am. Tasting and judging will begin at 12:30pm, with winners be announced at 2:30pm. There is no fee to compete in the Cookoff. Gumbo must be cooked on-site outside of Prather Coliseum. The festival will also include numerous food vendors offering traditional Louisiana cuisine. Outdoor activities include demonstrations of traditional blacksmithing and Dutch oven cooking. A child friendly hands-on demonstration of a 19th century wash day will also be presented.
The Annual Louisiana State Fiddle Championship will be held at 1:00pm in the Magale Recital Hall. There will be a non-championship class and a championship class. A twin fiddle category will also be held. Registration is at noon in the first-floor foyer outside Magale Recital Hall. The Fiddle Championship winner will perform on the main stage in Prather Coliseum at 5:00pm.
The festival includes several opportunities for patrons to engage directly with Louisiana folk culture. An interactive workshop titled “Beginning Harmonica” will be held on the East Stage at 12:30pm. The workshop will be taught by Ed Huey, a blues and Americana musician who has been recognized as an official Louisiana Tradition Bearer. A certified music teacher, Huey will give an overview of harmonica techniques and teach two beginning-level songs. The first fifty workshop participants will receive a free Hohner harmonica. Festival patrons can also take advantage of free Cajun and Zydeco dance lessons taught by the Cajun French Music Association Dance Troupe. “The festival bridges the distance between artists and the festival patrons, thus breaking the artificial barriers between artists and audience,” said Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the festival and NSU’s Louisiana Folklife Center. “Rather than watching from the sidelines, everyone who takes part in these activities will share and engage in Louisiana’s rich culture.”
More than 70 crafts vendors have been invited to display and discuss their traditional work with festival patrons. Craftspeople are expected to display beadwork, baskets, cowhide chair covers, alligator jewelry, Pysanky eggs, Native American crafts, and pottery. Other expected craftspeople will display needlework, wood carvings, handmade toys and dolls, paintings, sculpture, homemade soap, spinning & weaving, handcrafted knives, handmade brooms, walking sticks, folk art quilts, and more.
KidFest will be available from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Kidfest is an area dedicated to child-friendly activities and is a fun way for children to examine their own cultural and family traditions as well as those from around the state.
Narrative sessions will be held in the festival N-Club Room from 10:00am to 5:00pm and feature presentations on juke joints and dance halls, Creole crafts, Cajun dancing, traditional blacksmithing, folk foods and cookery, and Native American dancing, with a music “informance” on the Delta blues by Holmes. ASL interpretation, assistive listening devices, and audio description for these cultural discussions will be made available upon prior request. For a full schedule of events, as well as registration forms to participate in the Louisiana State Fiddle Championship and the Gumbo Cookoff, go to louisianafolklife.nsula.edu, or contact the Louisiana Folklife Center at (318) 357-4332 or email [email protected].
Support for the festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., the City of Natchitoches, the Louisiana Division of the Arts Decentralized Arts Fund Program, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, and the State of Louisiana.
No matter your musical tastes, there’s something for everyone as Cenla keeps on Jammin’ in July!