Mavis Staples may very well lead a revival when she headlines the second day of this year's Baton Rouge Blues Festival. The iconic soul singer, who was scheduled to perform during last year's Blues Festival but had to cancel due to the death of her sister, will take the downtown stage Sunday, April 14, festival organizers said during a lineup announcement Tuesday evening.
The 25th Baton Rouge Blues Festival, which takes place April 13-14, will also feature Kenny Neal with Lil Ray Neal and Tyree Neal, Henry Gray, Deacon John & The Ivories, Papa Grows Funk, Jonathon Long, Quiana Lynell and numerous other blues and swamp blues musicians, many from south Louisiana.
Organizers shoot for a "90-90" rule, said executive producer Chris Brooks, to have 90 percent of performers at the festival living within 90 miles of Baton Rouge.
"It forces us to be authentic to Baton Rouge," Brooks said, "and it gives opportunities for our local artists to play in front of thousands of people."
The festival will also have a special dedication to Blues Festival staple Leslie "Lazy Lester" Johnson, who died in August 2018. The Chris Leblanc Band will perform a tribute set to the musician, and several performers have said they will cover Johnson's songs during their sets. Johnson is the focal point of the festival's commemorative poster, designed by photographer Jordan Hefler.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the festival — one of the longest running, free blues festivals in the country, organizers have said — the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation is releasing a lapel pin featuring the festival's logo. The pins will be sold for $10 apiece during the festival.
The event is free, but the Blues Festival also sells an "Experience Pass," which includes complimentary food and drinks, private bar and bathrooms and exclusive areas around the stages. Passes are on sale now for $200.
The festival will run from noon to 10 p.m. both days at stages in and around Repentance Park and Galvez Plaza in downtown Baton Rouge. A detailed schedule will be released closer to the festival, and more information can be found at batonrougebluesfestival.org.
Baton Rouge Blues Festival 2019 lineup
Kenny Neal, Lil Ray Neal and Tyree Neal
Henry Gray with special guests Bob Corritore and others
Deacon John & The Ivories
Papa Grows Funk
Jonathon "Boogie" Long
Warren Storm & Willie Tee & The Band Cypress with Special Guests
Chris Leblanc Band with a Tribute to Lazy Lester
Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor
Lil Freddie King
Smokehouse Porter & Miss Mamie
Chicago Al & the Backburners
Harvey Knox & The Soul Spectrum Band
Darcy Malone & the Tangle
Levee Road Revue
Hogy & the Healers
Elder Timothy Britten & Shabach
Arthur Gremillion & Friends Community Choir
DeAndre Tate & Company
April "Sexy Red" Jackson