The Americana-leaning music roster for the 2018 Hogs for the Cause barbecue competition boasts country band the Turnpike Troubadours, jam band Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, contemporary bluegrass band the Steeldrivers, outlaw country singer Tyler Childers and N.M.O., aka North Mississippi Osborne, the collaboration between the North Mississippi Allstars and New Orleans guitarist Anders Osborne.
The tenth anniversary Hogs for the Cause, or “Hogs X” for short, is slated to return to the grounds of the UNO Lakefront Arena on March 23-24, 2018.
Tickets are on sale at hogsforthecause.org.
The nonprofit event raises money for the families of children who are being treated for pediatric brain cancer. The festival has given grants to more than 400 families.
Dozens of barbecue teams from across the country camp on the festival grounds, tending to their smokers as they compete to offer the best pork dishes in a variety of categories, including whole hog, ribs, pork butt/shoulder, "porkpourri," sauce and fan favorite. There is also a prize for the fundraising champion.
In 2017, the event moved from its previous home at City Park’s Festival Grounds to the grounds of the UNO Lakefront Arena.
“I thought it was fantastic,” Hogs for the Cause co-founder and CEO Becker Hall said of the new site. The Lakefront Arena site “is flat and hard, which we like. It’s an excellent spot for the festival to grow. Hopefully that will be the final resting spot for us.”
Music has come to play an increasingly prominent role in the festival. The Hogs for the Cause soundtrack favors Americana music, that broadly defined category that touches on country, bluegrass, blues and straight-ahead guitar rock. A handful of hometown acts round out the bill.
As in 2017, the festival will feature three stages. The New Orleans acts will perform on a stage inside a large craft beer tent.
Local acts include Maggie Koerner, the Stoop Kids, Jonathan “Boogie” Long, the Hot 8 Brass Band, Khris Royal and guitarist Billy Iuso’s Iko Allstars, who will showcase a set of Grateful Dead songs.
Hogs for the Cause will be completely cash-free in 2018. Patrons will use interactive wristbands to make purchases. They replace the “wooden nickel” tokens that were previously used.
Before booking bands for 2018, the Hogs organization sent out a survey to patrons, asking who they’d want to see. The more than 1,000 responses helped guide decisions, Hall said.
The Steeldrivers were among the most requested acts, along with Southern rock outfit the Band of Heathens and Samantha Fish, the blues-based guitarist who now lives in New Orleans.
Further down the bill, Son Little specializes in soul/R&B. Mipso is a young, Appalachian-style string band. Spafford is a fast-rising band on the jam band circuit. “We always like to have a little bit of the jam element out there,” Hall said.
Next year's 300th anniversary of New Orleans’ founding “is kind of a big deal,” Hall joked. “But the city should be pushing Hogs X. That’s the anniversary they should be talking about.”
The complete 2018 Hogs for the Cause roster includes N.M.O. (North Mississippi Osborne), Turnpike Troubadours, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, The SteelDrivers, Tyler Childers, Son Little, Spafford, Banners, The Band of Heathens, Mipso, Samantha Fish, Sweet Spirit, Blackfoot Gypsies, Cordovas, The Artisanals, Iko Allstars, Maggie Koerner, The Stoop Kids, Jonathan “Boogie” Long, the Hot 8 Brass Band and Khris Royal.