*Long Beach, CA — Summer is officially upon us in Southern California. That can only mean one thing. Let’s get this party season started.
Thousands of revelers gathered at the Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach for the 31st Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival, Saturday, June 24, and Sunday, June 25, 2017. The diverse, multi-ethnic crowd consisted of current and former residents of Louisiana, as well as local residents who love Louisiana culture.
The Long Beach Bayou Festival was a weekend of fun in the sun with a smorgasbord of food vendors, arts and crafts booths, and a lot of activities for kids.
Attendees had a choice of stages for their entertainment pleasure. The Zydeco Stage featured Cajun and Zydeco music, and the New Orleans Stage featured Blues, R&B, Soul and a tasty dose of Salsa and Latin Jazz. The Bayou Kids Stage featured lots of fun events for the kids.
Dennis G & the Zydeco Trail Riders got the two-step, boot kicking experience under way on the Zydeco Stage. Whiteboy James & The Blues Express came out of the station with some jump, swing, rambling blues to open the show on the New Orleans Stage. People couldn’t stop moving throughout their set on the tunes “Move on Down the Line,” “She Loves So Good,” “You Stayed out Late at Night,” “You Are a Mean Mistreating Old Women,” and “Just Take Me Back.”
MJ’s Brass Boppers delivered a high octane set of the funky phat sounds of New Orleans, by way of the Bay area (San Francisco). They laid down a groove that mad your body move. Their set featured the tunes “Step Aside,” and “Boppers Groove” both original tunes, followed by Blackbird Special” and “I’m Walking.” I’m hoping that this tight, fun band will get an invite to perform at the upcoming Long Beach Jazz Festival. This would be the perfect band to entertain the crowd in between acts. They are very mobile, where ever they are, that’s where the party will be.
Mark St. Mary Louisiana Blues & Zydeco Band kept up the tempo and momentum on the Zydeco Stage. The covered dance floor was full as they performed “Turn on the Light,” “Good Time Women,” and “Zydeco Tonight.” Check out their latest CD’s Big Boss Man’s Bluesy Zydeco and Zydeco Electrified.”
You can probably tell that I did a Cajun waltz, Zydeco two-step and or a Latin Cha Cha Cha to get from stage to the other. Jumpin’ Jack Benny Band burst upon the stage with plenty of energy and didn’t let up until the end of their set. They entertained the crowd with the tunes “Back Door Man,” “Gotta Play One More Song” to name a few.
T-Broussard & the Zydeco High Steppers played an outstanding set of Zydeco with lots of soul to the delight of the Zydeco dancers.
Soulicious served up a tasty Soul, R&B, Blues extravaganza with a touch of Zydeco. They took the crowd on a musical journey on the tunes “Two-Way-Poc-a Way,” “Let’s Groove Tonight,” “Good Times,” “There’s Nothing You Can Do,” and “Hole in the Wall.” Grammy Winning band Pine Leaf Boys and Brian Jack & The Zydeco Gamblers closed out the entertainment on the Zydeco Stage to conclude day one of the festival, with Cafe R&B doing the honors on the New Orleans Stage.
Revelers returned to prolong the fun, as day tow continued with some additional top notch music. Day two got under way with an exciting set by Jimbo Ross & The Bodacious Band. They thrilled the crowd on the tunes “Living by the Blues,” “Tobacco Road,” “Fire on the Bayou,” and “I Put a Spell on you.”
Bernie Pearl opened with some Mississippi Delta Blues before he invited the rest of the band on stage for a rousing, crowd pleasing set of blues.
Louie Cruz Beltran added some spicy Salsa and Latin Jazz to the gumbo called Long Beach Bayou Festival. The crowd and I were grooving to a different rhythm as the band performed “Senorita Mia,” and Latin version of “My Girl,” “Timbalero Y Bongo,” “Havana Negra,” “Spanish Grease,” “Mustang Sally,” and “Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries.”
Seville and Company closed out the entertainment on the New Orleans Stage with a set of old school tunes from back in the day, coupled with their arrangement of some modern tunes.
The Zydeco Stage was jumping all day with the great sounds of Bonne Musique Zydeco, T-Broussard & The Zydeco High Steppers, New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band, Pine Leaf Boys and closed with Brian Jack & The Zydeco Gamblers.
Both day of the festival featured a Mardi Gras Parade that snaked around the Rainbow Lagoon. The New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band led the parade with Mr. Larney “Dapper” Johnson lll, serving as Grand Marshal. The 31st Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival was dedicated to the memory of Linda Hopkins, great Jazz, Blues and Gospel vocalist, and Benjamin Delillie, Ambassador, LA LA-Louisiana to Los Angeles Organizing Committee, Inc.
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based writer, music reviewer and Photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]