By LouisianaTravel.com Staff

Share This:

See Photos
Chris Thomas King at the Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall, Louisiana
Chris Thomas King at the Dew Drop Jazz and Social Hall in Mandeville, Louisiana

The Music: Blues


The Mississippi River rolls through Louisiana, and this being the deep South, you know there’s some great blues music to be discovered. This is the down-home music introduced to the world by African-American laborers, and you can hear elements of gospel and old-school country in the sounds of blues, even today. The classic blues song is built around a "12-bar blues" chord progression with the lyrics following a pattern of a line sung twice, followed by a longer third line. Of course there's nothing rigid about the blues. Each song is as individual as its performer.

The Blues Music Icons

The Louisiana blues origins can be heard in the music of the blues greats! Louisiana’s blues brought us Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, one of the architects of blues music as we know it today along with Robert Pete Williams. New Orleans gave rise to performers like James Booker, Snooks Eaglin, Earl King and the legendary Professor Longhair, whose weaving of Caribbean rhythms and the blues created New Orleans’ distinct style. Upriver in Baton Rouge, swamp blues took root under the direction of producer J.D. “Jay” Miller who recorded artists such as Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim, Silas Hogan, Henry Gray, Lonesome Sundown and Lazy Lester. 

Of course, scores of other blues greats have called Louisiana home including Raful Neal, Buddy Guy, Ernest “Tabby” Thomas and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.

And the state continues to nurture a new generation of performers such as Tab Benoit, Larry Garner, Kenny Neal and Chris Thomas King, Irma Thomas, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Marcia Ball. Discover all the great Louisiana Blues Musicians
.

Hear it Here

Live blues is easy to find throughout Louisiana both in nightclubs and at festivals such as the annual Baton Rouge Blues Festival held in the spring, and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Teddy’s Juke Joint — The town of Zachary is home to Teddy’s Juke Joint, run by namesake Lloyd “Teddy” Johnson. Johnson is your host (he actually grew up in the building that became the venue), and welcomes visitors into this club that’s decorated with Christmas lights year-round. 

B.B. King’s Blues Club — Head to New Orleans’ French Quarter for a rowdy, rockin’ good time at B.B. King’s Blues Club. The B.B. King’s Blues Club All Star Band holds court most nights, and on weekends, the calendar is packed with three sets, starting at noon.

The Howlin’ Wolf — This New Orleans venue has been packing in audiences for 30 years, and is running stronger than ever with a long roster of both local and national acts. It’s a diverse group of artists, too, so even if you don’t show up on a night when blues bands are playing, you’re sure to find something that’ll be music to your ears.

The Funky Pirate Blues Club — This blues joint is located right in the middle of New Orleans’ (if not Louisiana’s) most famous party strip — Bourbon Street. Blues bands play daily at this revered local spot that features special guest musicians sitting in every Monday night.

Ruby’s Roadhouse — The lakefront town of Mandeville is where you’ll find historic homes, meandering bayous and one of the most authentic old school music joints in Louisiana. Ruby’s Roadhouse is part neighborhood bar and part music mecca. When you walk through the doors of this 125-year-old building and see the hundreds of visitors’ names scrawled on the ceiling, with pulsing, energetic blues music coming from the stage, you know you’re in a place a little off the beaten path.