In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Swamp blues lands Baton Rouge in national top 8 list

When it comes to Louisiana music, most are quick to acknowledge New Orleans for jazz and the Acadiana region for Cajun. But both genres are blended together form the sound that gained Baton Rouge a nod from a national publication. 

A newly published article in Men’s Journal lists Baton Rouge as the “unofficial swamp blues capital of Louisiana.” In fact, the Red Stick tops the list.  

The article features seven additional locations that are billed as under-the-radar music capitals.  

So just what exactly is swamp blues and why is Baton Rouge known for it?  

Around the 1950s, Baton Rouge became the musical melting pot for Louisiana-centric tunes. Swamp blues takes the slow tempo you’re used to hearing from blues and mixes it with Cajun, zydeco, or other genres. 

About a decade later, you could hear the influence of swamp blues in mainstream hits produced by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  

Slim Harpo was one of the most commercially successful Baton Rouge-based musicians during the height of swamp blues. His track “I’m a King Bee” was featured on the Stones’ first album (England’s Newest Hit Makers, 1964).  

So, lots of history and it’s all spotlighted annually at the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, which is mentioned in the Men’s Journal article.  

The festival, hosted by the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation, is now held in downtown Baton Rouge, but it started back in 1981 on Southern University’s campus. The next event will take place on April 13-14, 2019.  

“Expanding outside our backyard, the festival has brought in nationally and internationally recognized names like Bobby Blue Bland, Marcia Ball, Phil Guy, Larry Garner and Charlie Musselwhite—including a hometown favorite, the legendary Buddy Guy in 2016,” states the Blues Festival website.   

But wait, there’s more! 

The Men’s Journal article also mentions several local music venues, so if you’re a fan of live music, you’ll want to add them as destinations on your musical map.  

Learn more about the history of the blues in Louisiana