Bluegrass on the Bayou

Okay, since nobody was brave enough to send me a CD to review, or to let me know where their band was going to be playing so I could check them out, there arenÂ’t going to be any reviews in this monthÂ’s column. (Shame on you people!) Instead, I am going to tell yÂ’all about a musical party that is going to be happening this month that everyone should go to. ItÂ’s guaranteed to be a real old-fashioned hootenanny. IÂ’m talking about Bluegrass on the Bayou, being held March 16-18. For those of you who have not heard of this festival before, it started just last year to help raise money for the Cancer Center at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and is held on the LSU campus, on the old golf course on the back nine. John Barham, the president and founder of the festival, said that the idea for the festival arose after his father-in-law died of cancer and he realized that he wanted to do something about the situation. It was while he was at another bluegrass festival that the thought of Bluegrass on the Bayou began to form.

“The bass player in one of the bands related a story about his bout with cancer,” remembers Barham. “Then another band came on and did the same. Something just kept tapping me on the shoulder, telling me to pay attention to this idea.”

And where better to have a festival than in Louisiana?

This yearÂ’s festival has two stages where the musicians will play. The main stage is the Bluegrass stage. It will showcase strictly bluegrass music and feature artists, including Grammy-nominated singer Rhonda Vincent and Louisiana-born Alecia Nugent. The second stage is the Louisiana stage and will feature music and artists that are from Louisiana. Artists to perform on this stage include Louisiana Purchase and 2nd Glance. The bands will be performing rain or shine, as all of the instruments played in bluegrass music are acoustical.

Bluegrass music, if you were wondering, is a music that was born in the Appalachian Mountains and is comprised of several different types of music, such as old spirituals and Celtic songs, that have been fused into a unique musical genre. The term “bluegrass” wasn’t even used until Bill Monroe, considered to be the founder of bluegrass, came up with the descriptive. Before that, the music had simply been called “mountain music.” It’s lively and fun music, full of fiddles and banjos, and it takes true talent to play bluegrass, because you can’t hide behind volume and glitz.

“If you could say anything about it,” says Barham, “it’s a type of music that people learn to play because their families played it.”

Besides music, the festival will also feature hot air balloons, tether glows, and balloon flights for the ChildrenÂ’s Miracle Network, along with arts and crafts booths, musical workshops, and the stone-ground grits and barbeque competitions.

And, yes, for those of you who wonÂ’t go anywhere unless you know itÂ’s going to be there, there will be beer. And what better way to celebrate St. PatrickÂ’s Day than with Celtic-sounding fiddles and beer? It makes the Irish in me happy just thinking about it.

Bluegrass on the Bayou will be happening March 16-18; the times are from 9am-11pm on Thursday and Friday, and from 8am-11pm on Saturday. The price of admission is $15 at the gate or $35 for a weekend pass. If you are a college student, the cost to get in is only $5. Further information about the festival can be found at www.bluegrassonthebayou.com.

So don’t let me down, people… I want to see you there at Bluegrass on the Bayou, doing your part to help stop cancer the old-fashioned way – by partying acoustically.

If youÂ’re in a local band and want a taste of CaroleÂ’s medicine, send her a demo or let her know when and where she can check you out.