New School Year, New Website, Same Jive

Dear Reader,

We at Jive Flamingo felt like it was time to freshen up our look and usher in a new season. With the start of the Fall Semester, we figured that there was no better time to shake things up.

Who are we?

Jive Flamingo has been serving the Baton Rouge community by providing a calendar and blog since early 2013 and we are excited for what is to come! The Baton Rouge music and arts scene has a lot to offer and we are here so that you know about it. We don’t want you to miss a thing.

Jive Flamingo is a volunteer-run music project dedicated to Baton Rouge. We believe that original music can be the backbone of a solid community, and we know that Baton Rouge is not lacking in artistic and musical talent. We affectionately refer to ourselves as “Baton Rouge’s music cheerleader” because we love to support, encourage, and celebrate all the great things Baton Rouge musicians are doing. We want to see the city of Baton Rouge embrace its arts community and be as proud as we are to call Baton Rouge home.

On our website you can:

●      Read blog posts. We update our blog weekly with fresh content!

●      Access a Calendar. We maintain a weekly calendar that will point you to our hand-selected recommendations for local original music in Baton Rouge.

●      Check out our photo gallery. We are in the process of updating our gallery. Once it is completed, there will be albums of photos from shows in Baton Rouge taken by local photographers like Chelsea Layne, Nick Martino, Jordan Hefler and more! 

Thanks for reading! We hope that you are as excited as we are for all the great things happening in Baton Rouge. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and always #listenlocalBR

Jive On,

Emily Jean McCollister

Jive Flamingo’s Managing Editor

JIVE PICKS (week of august 12th)

IT IS TIME FOR SOME JIVE PICKS! *raises the roof*

It’s a lovely day here in the Rouge and there are amazing musical things happening left and right! Check out our calendar for additional events, get off your couch (it’s comfy, I knowwww) and #listenlocalBR!





"Uncle Flam" says...

Jive Flamingo is very proud to introduce fancy new graphic capabilities-- thanks to our newest team member, Lafayette native and LSU alum, Mr. Tanner Simoneaux. Thanks to Tanner, today "Uncle Flam" reminds you to do your patriotic duty and support our local music community. ONLY YOU can prevent lameness in Baton Rouge.

Look out for more creative work from Tanner on the blog and Facebook page coming soon! And check out his introduction below! 



About Tanner Simoneaux

Tanner is affectionately known by his peers and admirers alike as Tan the Man because he is just that, The Man. The man with the plan, the man with the brand, and the man with the steady hand. With a knack for doodling rivaled only by his limitless creativity, his lifelong quest is to show the real world the imaginary one in his head. Through eye catching visuals, clever wordplay and the best tool of all, humor, he's just a nice dude trying to make the world a little nicer and a little prettier. Not one to drag things out or get long winded, he sums it up quite nicely in his own personal mantra, "Please the eye, provoke the mind"... And that he does, that he surely does. (But don't call him Shirley)

In Conversation with Cafe Au Lait

cafe au lait Between the steady dedication to creativity of Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room and the Shaw Center and the fresh offerings at Third Street venues like this Friday’s Water Seed/Cafe Au Lait/ Glamour Profession  line-up at the Roux House, original music has officially taken root in the downtown scene. “I don’t mean to be bragadocious, but we kind of spearheaded that.” Anthony “Tony Phlare” Knighten, bandleader and drummer for New Orleans/Baton Rouge trio Cafe Au Lait, said during my interview with the band on Tuesday. “Yeah, we were there years ago, when it was not popular to be an original band playing on Third Street. We were that band that was splitting up 30 dollars.” Andrew Davis, who plays guitar and synth with the band, reiterated that the downtown scene has really changed, “Mike Foster and John Gray were out there even before us, and they just moved in to Monday nights [a successful weekly series at the Roux House that Jive covered recently].”

Bassist  Lawrence

Third Street isn’t all Cafe Au Lait members Knighten, Davis, and bassist Lawrence “Chief” Ussin, have seen develop over the years.  The three men, who all studied music at Baton Rouge universities and have worked together locally for more than a decade in various configurations, say the city’s music community has come a long way. “It’s like big brothers watching the little guys come up.… I’m proud that Baton Rouge is finally realizing how much musical talent and ability is coming through the city. There are a lot of gifted musicians who are coming out of Baton Rouge right now. I’m thankful, because ten years ago it wasn’t like that.” Knighten reflected.

Cafe Au Lait’s growth as a band in some ways mirrors the larger community’s evolution. Its history began with a predecessor project formed in 2003 called “Category Six,” experimentation with a variety of genres (including gospel, heavy metal, AND gospel with heavy metal elements), a break-up over growing pains, and a coming back together story.  Now, as a “stripped down” trio, the band has found a sweet spot of richness and versatility that can meet any audience where it’s at and get everyone into the groove.  Knighten explained, “It’s funny, because we always try to be on the side of funky with a mix of R&B and jazz in there, but for whatever reason when people come to hear us play, they always come to the conclusion that we make baby-making music.”

Andrew Davis

Davis agreed, “There’s a blending that has to happen, because there’s only three of us. if we all have the same vibe at the same time, it can be a little stale. So, we taking a complementary approach to what we’re playing. I love to play things in a lyrical, smooth, connected a way…. By bringing our different textures it’s a lot easier to fill up the sound.”

Through development of their distinct, individual voices, the members of Cafe Au Lait come together to produce a colorful, well-layered sound. While Knighten drums with what he calls “rhythmic melody” to complement the rest of the band, bassist Ussin brings that “baby-making” funk pulsing through Cafe Au Lait’s songs. When asked, Ussin wouldn’t attempt to explain his musical style: “Most of the players I like are funk, like Bootsy Collins and stuff like that, but it don’t really come out that way. I can tell you who I aspire to be like, but all I can say is that I play like Chief.”

Like the band’s delicious namesake-- “cafe au lait” is a mixture of dark roast coffee, hot milk, half and half-- the trio’s resulting sound is bold and rich with a smooth finish. “Basically, people say Lawrence and I are like one instrument,” Knighten said of he and Ussin’s percussion/bass collaboration. “And Drew [Davis] plays the silky thing.”

Although Cafe Au Lait is a solid standalone act, the band’s versatility has lent itself to numerous collaborations, particularly with vocalists. One night, the band might play an all original set with Michael Liuzza, and the next they may be covering jazz standards with Christien Bold. They even took one of their collaborators, Clif Saint Laurent, with them to their second appearance at the Destination Aquin International Festival in Haiti last April.


When asked about their experience at the Haiti festival, Knighten said “Haiti is our second home. Period.” Davis agreed enthusiastically, “The bookers [of the festival] told us, ‘You’re the first non-Haitian band to play at this festival two years in a row.’” This likely has to do with the deep cultural connection between Haiti and New Orleans. “Haiti spirit is very much like that of Louisiana.” says Knighten. Indeed, Afro-Latino influence, so deeply rooted in the New Orleans music tradition, pervades the band’s music.

Although Davis said the band members “could talk all day” in interview, he invites you to engage in conversation with the band on Friday. Instead of having a pre-planned setlist, Cafe Au Lait gets on stage ready to engage in a “give and take” with the audience.  Knighten elaborated, “We might get somewhere and we’re thinking we need to play a more rocky show, but it all depends on the mood and temperature of the crowd.  We’re reading their emotion and taking and augmenting their emotion... by the time you’re on the third song, you realize that you’re moving without even thinking about it.”

Beyond this Friday, the band is looking forward to sharing new music that reflects all the aspects of its funky personality, anticipating an album release by the first of next year. And “Chief” Ussin, who was the most reserved of the three in the interview, let me know in no uncertain terms to be ready for that day: “All I have to say is, come January 2016, everybody just prepare to get your faces funked off.”

My calendar is marked, Chief.


Catch Cafe Au Lait with Water Seed and Glamour Profession at the Roux House this Friday night. Details here. AND look out tomorrow and Friday for ticket giveaways to this and the Hydrogen Child/Startisan/Breton Sound (details here) concert on the Jive Flamingo Facebook Page!



An Ode to Lagniappe Records

Dear Reader, My name is Emily and I grew up in Baton Rouge from the age of zero to eighteen. I headed off to Chicago after graduating high school and attended school there for a year before returning to Baton Rouge for various reasons outside of my control. When I returned to Baton Rouge as an adult with a little experience and independence under my belt, I was upset and frustrated by what I saw. After living in a city like Chicago that loves, encourages, supports and enjoys the arts and the artistic community and after attending an art school for a year, Baton Rouge and LSU were a bit of a culture shock for me and my readjusting took longer than expected. I was disillusioned, regretful and a little bit hopeless that Baton Rouge would ever be the city I knew it could be.

The thing that I had grown to know about Baton Rouge is that the people are amazing, the food is great, and Baton Rougeans know how to have a good time. More than that, Baton Rouge is overflowing with talent but because of the culture and climate of the city, most of the artistic talent stays for a bit and then leaves. They leave because there are better opportunities elsewhere, they don’t feel wanted here, maybe they don’t feel seen, or the terrain is just too tough. That makes me sad because I wish I could say that Baton Rouge was a city that welcomed and encouraged an artistic and diverse community to stay and to thrive.

I’ve been reflecting on these things because I heard the news recently that Lagniappe Records is moving to Lafayette. When I moved back to Baton Rouge, I found a few great places that made me feel like I could be okay here as an artist and as a future creative professional. I found Mud and Water, Lagniappe Records, Spanish Moon, Chelsea’s, Atomic Pop Shop, Magpie Café and Highland Coffees. These were the gems that helped me maintain my sanity as I persevered to live what I love in a city that didn’t love what I lived. Mud and Water shut its doors only months after I had found it and that was a hit for the city of Baton Rouge that a lot of us still feel.

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.21.04 AMLagniappe Records was a haven for me during a difficult transitional season of my life. Patrick and Tess are this talented and passionate duo who could’ve lived anywhere but sacrificed that to move to Baton Rouge and face difficulty and do what they loved in spite of it. They helped our city grow and they got people involved. They encouraged young musicians to play and they encouraged Baton Rouge to listen. I always used to marvel at them because of how they spoke about Baton Rouge. Unbeknownst to them, they encouraged me to pursue my dream of opening a bookstore/music venue here (one day); they made me feel like if they could create a safe place for musicians and artists to come, hang, collaborate and grow, then maybe I could too (one day).

When I heard they were relocating to Lafayette, I was more than bummed. I got in my car after leaving work and found myself driving to the store; I bought a Cat Stevens record and chatted with Tess for a moment. The bitter-sweetness of the situation was apparent in the quivering of her voice. I said bye to Patrick and Tess and as the door to Lagniappe shut behind me, I started to cry. I was mourning a deep loss for the city of Baton Rouge. I felt the sadness in my bones. And I was angry. I wasn’t angry with Patrick and Tess; I understand that they were making the best of a bad situation that was out of their control. I was angry that Baton Rouge wasn’t able to keep them.

This is a good reminder for us that, though there are amazing things happening in the BR music/arts community right now, we’re still dealing with challenges and a climate that doesn’t necessarily welcome things of a diverse or artistic nature. That being said, we can do something about it. The people who live in this city can resolve not to let another treasure like Lagniappe slip through our fingers. We can buckle down and pursue our dreams and welcome diversity and fight for the arts to be normal and wanted, not by a niche community, but by the masses.

I wish Patrick and Tess all the best and know that we will see them and the bands from Lagniappe's DIY label around the city of Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge is better for Lagniappe and though we may be losing them, we can take notes from this so that we don’t let something like it happen again. We live in a great city full of amazing artists and musicians and that is why we at Jive Flamingo do what we do, because we love this city and we are hopeful for what Baton Rouge will become.


Emily Jean

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 11.11.17 AM

You can see Wreckless Eric at Lagniappe Records this Sunday at 6pm.

This is the last show to be held in Lagniappe's Baton Rouge location.

Lagniappe keeps regular business hours in Baton Rouge until the 25th of July.

I Got Next: The Future of the BR Hip Hop Scene

6_19_15_IGotNextHipHop-0624 Baton Rouge Hip Hop is alive.

It takes some looking for. Boosie, Gates, and Webbie don’t live in the city limits anymore, and 94.1 doesn’t play any local music. You can really only see it at a handful of venues and hear it during designated programming hours on a few community radio stations. Most clubs and stations are content playing and publicizing top 40 and top 20 hits.


The first “I Got Next” open mic competition, hosted by the BR Hip Hop Project at Culture Reggae Club, shows that the situation we’ve got in Baton Rouge isn’t due to lack of quality musicians, and shows there’s hope for the future of local rap. Ten artists participated in the event on June 19:

Cardell Flare was supposed to perform, but suffered injury in a car accident and wasn't able to make it. DJ Mikelarry took care of the scratches and spins, and, for a show set during the middle of the summer, it did remarkably well.


The event featured these ten emcee’s in a bracketed rap battle showcase, and the intensity of the competition encouraged everybody to bring their A game. The Monastery took home the crown, with Gho$twriter coming in second. "When we won, I felt like people were finally seeing how ambitious we are. I felt like the 6-hr drive was worth every ounce of gas, and I felt like we had reached a new plateau in our rap journey. I was elated," Carlos Charm of The Monastery said.

I sat down to talk with the man behind BR Hip Hop Project, Marcel P. Black, about the event, the scene, and what it really needs to thrive.

Marcel has been in Baton Rouge for 13 years, a transplant from Oklahoma. He started the BR Hip Hop Project by himself in the summer of 2012, but eventually put Justin Ivey, Matt Bruce, Mark Wallace, and DJ Automatik on the team. As a teacher full-time, he has a constant desire to help artists help themselves. “I’m a mentor by trade,” he says.


Marcel organized the open mic – his first since 2011 – not only as a way to have some fun, but as a way to mentor and cultivate a scene in Baton Rouge. It was the open mic done right – a competition with thought and consideration given to the artists and their financial and networking needs. In the music world, everybody benefits when you put different people in the same room, from different places and with different assets and ideas.

In addition to the ten competing in the open mic, the event had three “featured performers”: Dude With No Name (BR), Billsberry Flowboy (NO), and Crisis (Memphis), all selected by Marcel as a different model of professional and successful emcee. Dude With No Name is one of the few local musicians to take initiative and put his releases in local record stores. Crisis is from Memphis and knows how to travel. Billsberry Flowboy never holds any bars when he raps, and is a proficient battler. “I can preach to em all day long,” Marcel says, “but if they’re not in Atlanta with me or Houston with me to see how I move, what I say don’t make sense. So I wanted to get other artists to model it for me, so it don’t sound like just me preaching.”

Some of it was more overt: to even be considered to compete, the artists had to send in an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) containing links to online hosted music, social media accounts, a biography, and a video of a performance. Putting together an EPK is an extremely beneficial task for an artist, but one that is often overlooked.


Marcel believes that too many up-and-coming musicians are caught up in an old business model – they try to make a hit single and sit around hoping that some DJ somewhere will help blow it up. “It ain’t since the 90’s that somebody’s had a song so big, Puff Daddy heard it in the barbershop and went ‘who’s this rapping, let me give him a record deal.’ It’s an outdated model.”

Nowadays, “you gotta be on your independent grind. You gotta make things happen for yourself and let everybody else come to you. You gotta put yourself in the position to where you can create opportunities for yourself, as opposed to sitting back, being mad and frustrated that somebody won’t give you something.”

There are artists in every facet of the music industry that neglect the entrepreneurial side of what’s going on. Music is an extremely creative business, but it’s still a business, and musicians offer a very valuable service. By neglecting to take up the mantle and create opportunities for themselves, musicians are prime for getting exploited, or just don’t see the success and popularity that they should. On the other hand, pandering to what the market or audience demands (or what you think they want) is patently false, and everybody can tell it isn’t genuine. Like everything else, it seems to be all about balance.


Baton Rouge Hip Hop Project is around to help promote that balance. They put on shows, book, promote, and whatever else the community needs. “I feel like it’s our duty, as lovers of hip hop, and people who understand the talent that’s in Baton Rouge, to try to build a scene," Marcel says. "So first things first – we gotta get our artists mobilized.”

If Baton Rouge can develop a strong community of musicians producing consistently good content, there's nothing that can keep that community from growing. These musicians need to take advantage of the resources they've been given, and be confident enough to put themselves out there and make mistakes worth learning from. In the age of the internet, there's less and less knowledge that's beyond the typical person's reach - you can learn about marketing, licensing, promoting, performing. There's almost no reason not to get out and get yours. Eventually, forces from beyond the city will talk about what's going on here, book shows here, and build up our local musicians.

“Baton Rouge Hip Hop Project – we all understand the importance of having a scene that’s prominent here'" Marcel says. "Cause we go to concerts all the time. We have to go to New Orleans, have to go to Dallas or something to catch an act that we would like. Even independent acts or whatever. For the most part, we’re tired of seeing people skip over Baton Rouge when it comes to concerts.”


Marcel says the number one thing the scene needs is a tight community. "The artists gotta support themselves. And when I say support themselves, I mean support the scene. There’s so many rappers that wanna be on these shows… If every rapper that wanted to be on the bill showed up, you got 100 people in the audience right there. And with that said, you gotta bring your fans. The scene needs fans. Y’know, after a while, rappers get tired of rapping to other rappers. We need more people in the audience. Every single person that loves hip hop, who loves live entertainment, or who just wants to do something different, they should take a chance on it.”

“Another thing is we need to be more organized. Less politics, more organization, in terms of what we’re trying to do as a collective. It’s problematic to me when this group of people has a conflict with this other group of people… so they just shut each other out. That hurts everybody.”

When people withdraw support like that, sales and attendance go down at shows. And if they have a gig that hurts the bottom line, venues become less likely to book another hip hop show in the future. Then nobody ends up being able to book there.


Marcel acknowledges that it's an uphill battle. 91.1 KLSU and 96.9 WHYR have underground hip hop programs, but 94.1 stopped playing any local music when it was bought by Cumulus. Spanish Moon, Culture Reggae Club, and Chelsea's are some of the few venues where you can see an independent hip hop show, but even clubs on the North side aren't that much of an outlet for local creatives, instead just letting a DJ spin whatever's popular. “I would like to see more venues and more spaces willing to take a chance on artists or acts that they normally don’t have, and not be afraid to let particular demographics come in a spot and do whatever," Marcel says. "Everybody loves hip hop. Regardless of content, everybody wants to put their hand in the air, while they got a beer in the other one, and have a good time."

Marcel and the BR Hip Hop Project are working for a future in which Baton Rouge hip hop will be alive and well, and require a little bit less hunting to find. Marcel says, “Baton Rouge has a very particular story that needs to be told. The world needs to hear what the city has to say.”

--Ty Simmons Photos by Chelsea Layne.

Check out some music from winners Carlos Charm & Paco of The Monastery Music Group, and go like BR Hip Hop Project on Facebook!


Ben Herrington's 2015 "State of the Music Address"

photo credit: Eric Holowacz

Editor's note: Ben was featured in today's Baton Rouge Business Report.

Jive Flamingo is back up and running. We're back covering the creative music scene in Baton Rouge. By shining a light upon our city's music we hope to encourage it to continue to strengthen. However, it is not just a strong music scene we want to see in Baton Rouge. We want to see a unique music scene flourish here; something that can only be created here and that adds to our city's sense of place. I believe that over the past couple of years we have begun to witness this. This flourishing has occurred when collaborations draw upon the raw materials of musical community which are already firmly established here. There are diverse shades on our city's musical color pallet. How those colors are used, how they are combined, how they are contrasted and juxtaposed are the questions for our musical artists. And it is an exciting question.

When we started Jive Flamingo it was because we didn't know anyone who used the phrases "Baton Rouge music" or "Baton Rouge music scene" in reference to any current happenings, although we knew a plethora of musicians.

As a recent graduate of the LSU School of Music, I was certainly aware of quite a few musicians who worked and intently studied in the classical and jazz idioms. I had also begun an adventure of seeking out what interesting music might be found in Baton Rouge outside of my familiar academic environment. It often involved roaming the streets with a trombone to see what musical experiences I might stumble upon. I ended up spontaneously collaborating everywhere from an LSU transit bus to the Parade Grounds, to the front steps of the Varsity Theatre with longtime local busker, Leroy.

Around this time, there were whispers and there were headlines in the Daily Revellie that Baton Rouge had once had a strong music scene but that somehow over the previous several years it dried up and vanished. No one could exactly put their finger on what went wrong. Perhaps the members of bands and the audiences moved on to other phases of their lives and couldn't keep up with the late night schedule of a rock scene. Perhaps venues lost interest. More than just symbolic, for sure, was the burning down of long time music venue The Caterie on New Years Day 2010. Baton Rouge not only lost a venue, but musicians lost both practice spaces and instruments in the fire.

Somewhere in the Great Music Slump of 2008-2010, venturing just across Chimes Street from LSU, I found a handful of singer-songwriters performing at North Gate Tavern from time to time. There didn't seem to be much structure or audience for these performances, but there was quality singing and songwriting making appearances both inside and outside the old bar. As I recall, Luke Ash was there with some regularity. I began sitting in with some of these songwriters whenever I could and slowly began to get to know them and their songs.

This handful of young Baton Rouge based songwriters, Luke Ash, Jacob Zachary, Denton Hatcher, Jodi James, Ryan Harris, Barrett Black, Peter Simon, and Clay Parker among them, had a lot in common with the classical musicians that I knew. They created beautiful music but were far more connected to a small community of other musicians than they were to any audience base. Simply put, they often played for their peers and for themselves and in reverence of their art, not expecting or requiring much recognition from any significant portion of the city's population. They created music simply because they loved it. With an independent, humble spirit, a small community of singer-songwriters seemed to be developing because they loved one another's musicianship and camaraderie. Their songs and their voices were great, and there lyrics were honest and without pretense.

The two Baton Rouge music communities of which I was now familiar -- the LSU School of Music and the humble songwriters -- began to intertwine for me into several projects in which I was involved including Spontaneous Combustion, A Baton Rouge Acoustic Christmas, and eventually Minos the Saint. In my mind, these projects represented a template of how two different musical communities, consisting of very different musical skills sets, modes of creation, and backgrounds could be combined to produce new colors and flavors, something that was unique because it was a blending of two strong pre-existing communities and traditions.

Flash forward to Memorial Day 2015. On this particular weekend, I made made it a point to attend as many Baton Rouge original music performances as I could. Between a metal show and a hip hop show at Spanish Moon, a funk and neo-soul performance at Chelsea's Cafe, and a neighborhood music festival going by the moniker Bayou Crunchy Stooper Mess, I found that organic and supportive music communities are indeed still flourishing here.

The more musicians and music fans support one another, the more they can also learn from and be inspired by one another. The concept of combining disparate styles and musical traditions is still alive and well here. Two of the bands I heard over Memorial Day weekend particularly stood out to me as carrying on this collaborative concept: The Easy and Slomile Swift.

The Easy features three classically trained transplants here, vibraphonist John Mann V, trombonist Nick Garrison, and drummer Eli Williams, plus Baton Rouge native Chris Polk on bass and vocals. Mann and Garrison also play synthesizers and provide vocals as well, creating a truly diverse sound blending hip hop, soul, dance, and eclectic brass and percussion sounds. Slomile Swift is the project of James West which began as a solo electronic project but which has grown to incorporate live drums, bass, and keyboards, seamlessly blending electronic samples and loops with the energy of a live band.

It is important to remember that these outstanding bands have not developed in a vacuum but have been shaped, molded, and refined by their diverse musical experiences in Baton Rouge. Their members have been for years active and supportive in the Baton Rouge music community. For example, the members of Slomile Swift have years of experience performing in other excellent Baton Rouge-born bands, Moon Honey and Prom Date. The Easy has been performing and honing their sound for several years, giving thrilling performances at events including Jive Fest in May 2014, the Jive Flamingo Back to School Series last fall, and The Highlander Fest at Highland Coffees. In turn, these bands are inspiring up and coming musicians and audiences to push the boundaries of expectation and expand their horizons.

We are excited to see what direction the Baton Rouge music scene will take in the future. We at Jive Flamingo fully acknowledge that there are pockets of creativity and musical tradition in Baton Rouge which have not yet been significantly tapped into. We firmly believe that existing strong musical communities which can collaborate and inspire one another will create new stylistic ideas and new art -- something irreplaceable and uniquely Baton Rouge.

Ben Herrington