The Baton Rouge Blues Festival will celebrate its 25th edition on Saturday, April 13, and Sunday, April 14, with 46 performances and nine interview sessions in downtown Baton Rouge. And with five stages set up at this year's festival, there will be a lot of blues, rock 'n' roll and R&B to hear in the home of the swamp blues.
Soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples — who was scheduled to play the 2018 festival but had to cancel due to the death of her sister — will headline Sunday at the festival, playing 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the Royal LA 1 Stage in Repentance Park. And soul singer William Bell will headline that main stage on Saturday, 8:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
The festival's big stage is the Crown Royal LA 1 Stage — named after La. 1, which "connects all of Louisiana from Shreveport to Grand Isle, cutting through hometowns of Slim Harpo, Silas Hogan, Buddy Guy and Lazy Lester," the festival says. It will be located at the bottom of Repentance Park near River Road. The Aetna Swamp Blues Stage, showcasing local talent and recognizing Louisiana blues history, will be under the Crest in Galvez Plaza.
The Soul of BR Tent will be on Lafayette Street, near the Shaw Center for the Arts, and will feature gospel and soul performances. Located in the neutral ground at North Boulevard and North Fourth Street, the Front Porch Stage (sponsored by Smoke-Free East Baton Rouge)will have intimate sets performed by "living legends" and "future legends." And in the Old State Capitol, the Blues Backstory Stage will feature a series of informal interviews and performances, while more performers will be playing in the Capitol rotunda.
The Baton Rouge Blues Festival is free to attend, but an "Experience Pass" — which includes complimentary food and drinks, private bar and bathrooms, and exclusive areas around the stages — is available. Passes are on sale now for $200.
To commemorate the festival's 25th anniversary, the nonprofit Baton Rouge Blues Foundation is selling a special edition pin featuring the festival's logo. Pins will be available around the festival for a $10 donation to the foundation.
Look out for events around the 2019 festival celebrating the life and musical legacy of Leslie "Lazy Lester" Johnson. The swamp blues pioneer grew up in Pointe Coupee Parish and Scotlandville and was a beloved addition on the Baton Rouge Blues Festival lineup. Johnson died last year at his home in Paradise, California.
More about the Baton Rouge Blues Festival can be found at batonrougebluesfestival.org.