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Bogalusa hosts Blues and Heritage Festival

( Bogalusa, La  The Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival (BBHF) has tagged the blazing hot Tab Benoit as its inaugural year headliner on Saturday, Sept. 29.  The complete lineup includes acclaimed representatives from throughout the region and across the blues music spectrum.

Taking the main stage with Tab Benoit for the 2012 BBHF will be Kenny Neal, Luther Kent, Homemade Jamz, Carolyn Wonderland, Wes Lee and Big Daddy O.

The festival will kick off with a tribute to native son and music legend Professor Longhair, so there’s no telling what other special guests might show up for the September 29 event in Cassidy Park.

South Louisiana’s Benoit is on fire. The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame musician has nearly a dozen Blues Music Awards with multiple current nominations, three Grammy nominations and a long list of other awards, his music is featured on numerous television shows, and his Voice of the Wetlands initiative is making the importance of coastal preservation memorable by giving the message a rhythm and a beat.

According to BBHF chair Malinda White, Benoit plans to bring some of his VOW band to Bogalusa.

By the time they get to the stage, it will be well warmed up.
Kenny Neal, another Louisiana Music Hall of Famer with many performance and songwriting awards under his belt, is known as a modern swamp-blues master.

The son of singer and blues harmonica master, Raful Neal, was born in New Orleans, raised in Baton Rouge and grew up steeped in the live music of his father and family friends like Buddy Guy.

The multi-instrumentalist plays guitar, bass, trumpet, piano and harmonica, all to the accompaniment of a voice described as “gruff before its time.” His sound is deep-rooted and soulful, with heartbreaking blues relieved by uplifting, swamp-based funk.

Big Easy native Luther Kent, yet another Hall of Famer and the voice of New Orleans tourism, is widely noted for his commanding soulful singing voice that provides a rich and powerful grounding force for a surrounding big horn sound.
Kent was the lead singer for Blood, Sweat and Tears during world tours from 1974 into 1976. After that, he helped form Luther Kent and Trick Bag, a band so hot that artists like B.B. King, Jimmy Page, Greg Allman, Etta James, Joe Cocker, Dr. John, Wilson Pickett and many others stopped by to sit in during visits to New Orleans.

Kent’s attraction hasn’t waned and he’ll bring it to Bogalusa.
Homemade Jamz can’t boast that depth and range of experience, but that’s OK. The Perry siblings, from Tupelo, Miss., are still in their teens. But that didn’t keep blues great B.B. King from saying he believes “they’ve got a great future ahead.”

The trio made music history as the youngest blues band to land a record deal in 2007 when the kids’ ages ranged from nine to 16. Since then, they’ve played throughout the U.S. and in Europe, and won awards and competitions all along the way.
Though the band might not have the experience to have lived them, they can perform the Delta blues. Two of them even do it on homemade instruments, a guitar and bass fashioned from automobile parts.

Carolyn Wonderland, an Austin, Texas-based singer, songwriter and musician who lived out of her van for a while, does know just what the blues feel like, and she likes to mix that sound with country, swing, zydeco, gospel, soul and whatever else might come through.

Also a multi-instrumentalist and multiple-award winner, Wonderland is reportedly one of music legend Bob Dylan’s favorites

The Texas representative to the BBHF is noted for her throaty, near contralto voice, her powerful originality and a social conscience that should fit in nicely with Benoit’s VOW.
Local audiences are already familiar with Hattiesburg, Miss., bluesman Wes Lee, who proved that his own emotions run deep and that he can pass them on to the crowd during the first big BBHF fundraiser just before Mardi Gras.

Lee, who is noted for his soulful songs, “brilliant songwriting,” and for making personal connections with his audiences, was such a hit at the February event that he earned a ticket back for the big show.

The musician who has said, “I didn’t choose to play the blues, the blues chose me,” was also chosen by the BBHF to be among its first year main stage performers.

Owen Tufts, alias Big Daddy O, rounds out the list.
“O” started out singing in his family’s barbershop quartet as a child in New Orleans, and when he got older, he took to the streets of the French Quarter with his guitar.

Now towering 6 and a half feet tall and sturdy, Big Daddy O is known for the beauty of his voice, the comfort he instills in his audiences and his undeniable talent.

Blues lovers who don’t own any of his critically acclaimed CDs are still almost certainly familiar with his music. Radio stations around the world love Big Daddy, who ranked above Eric Clapton one year on Dan Aykroyd’s House of Blues Radio Network.

The BBHF will also feature some up-and-coming talent on its second, Heritage, stage where winners of contests around the region will vie in a Young Guns competition.
For more information on the festival, check out the event’s website,


  1. The BBHF will also feature some up-and-coming talent on its second, Heritage, stage where winners of contests around the region will vie in a Young Guns competition.

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