Luis Mariani has one mission — to rock.
But rocking in Baton Rouge don’t come easy.
“I love this place and whatever music scene is left in it,” he said, puffing on a cigarette outside a house in Baton Rouge’s Garden District. “I’ve always had a big complaint about the city not being as good as it should be. We should be just as good as Lafayette and New Orleans. I don’t think the city has taken advantage of its music and arts.”
With him is a rag-tag crew of the scene’s veteran performers who remember the glory days of The Caterie, a spot on Perkins Road that burned down in 2010.
At the show, you’ll hear The Hitchhiker’s trademark rock ’n’ roll sound, which borrows heavily from Mariani’s idols such as Ronnie James Dio, The Darkness, and Thin Lizzy. It’s a sound that’s comfortably in between hair metal of the ’80s and fuzzy ’70s garage rock.
But Mariani doesn’t just want Baton Rougeans to dig his sound. He wants what a lot of local musicians want — a scene that appreciates its talent.
“It doesn’t even have to be rock music,” he said. “We just need to have more events and opportunities that allow the participation of the talent that exists. We’ve become a city that revolves around college sports.”
Mariani, like a lot of local musicians, learned the hard way that you have to keep pounding the pavement to get some recognition. When the guys in his band aren’t performing with The Hitchhiker, they are playing cover gigs in downtown dives with multiple bands.
In late April, though, The Hitchhiker’s work might pay off.
The band will travel to Orlando to perform at the Moonstone Music Festival on April 30. The festival’s lineup includes headliners Kiss and Def Leppard, as well as performances from The Flaming Lips, Wolf Alice, Best Coast, and Scott Stapp of Creed.
“We’re just going there to play, what else can we do?” Mariani said. “You get the opportunity, and you do it. Whatever comes out of it, comes out of it. Ultimately, I couldn’t be more proud and grateful that this is happening. I’m not going over there thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to play in front of 100,000 people.’ We might play in front of six people, but it adds to the résumé. We get to see all these bands, and we get to play our songs while doing that.”
Mariani finishes off his cigarette, then smiles.
“For the first time, I really feel validated as a musician to be able to be considered to play a festival like this,” he said.
Follow Matthew Sigur on Twitter, @MatthewSigur.