It’s a Wednesday night in Baton Rouge; you looked at your weather app and it told you it would be much colder than it is. As you walk to your car, you peel off layers of clothing to accommodate the Louisiana heat. You get in your car and drive to Perkins Rowe where you park and walk slowly to Lava Cantina. When you get there, you settle into a bar stool and order a cold margarita. With your drink in hand, you sit back and enjoy the sounds of live, local, original music and hours pass but they feel like minutes.
That might sound like a dream day but singer/songwriter showcases have been happening all over Baton Rouge lately. Whether you're a musician looking to perform, an avid supporter of local music or just a person looking for some after work activity, these songwriter nights are where you want to be.
"I never thought I would do this but I enjoy it and I'm very excited about it," said Hochkeppel, "Lava Cantina is a cool venue; I had played there once before. It is sort of out of reach for local musicians so to know that I could help open it up as a venue was a good idea for me."
A variety of musicians and genres play each Wednesday night show. Hochkeppel said, "The response has been good. Lava has a regular crowd and a restaurant atmosphere so people are always there eating and a lot of people like to stay. Everyone who is there loves it."
Check out a Wednesday night at Lava Cantina. The next show is February 17. "Great friends, good music, delicious drinks, why not? Come have a margarita and sit. You were probably going to go out to eat anyway, why not just come here and see some good music?" said Hochkeppel with a laugh, removing your excuses to not attend.
The Jolie Pearl songwriter event has been happening since July. The host and theme changes every week, “Each host has a different style so it makes the event at Jolie Pearl not sound the same every week. You can go and it won’t be the same kind of music every week either. You’ll see some of the same faces but you won’t see the same performers,” said Cobb.
“The response has been great. From musicians to people who stumble in, it’s something people look forward to going to and playing at," said Cobb.
Cobb hopes to cross generational gaps and create a place for all songwriters to meet and connect. He said, "Our goal is to make connections. There is a lot of new talent being uncovered. When I got involved with the songwriters in Baton Rouge, I got in with the older songwriters. As I get asked to play by some of the younger songwriters, I met younger songwriters. My goal is to have more and more songwriters crossing paths; Jolie Pearl has allowed that to happen; it is a place to hear different styles of music. There is a lot of networking that happens."
Next Sunday, if you find yourself with nothing to do, swing by Jolie Pearl and spend an afternoon with some oysters and tunes. "You should come to Jolie Pearl because there is such a buzz inside that place on Sunday of creative energy that you can't help to have fun and be happy," said Cobb.
Daniel Patterson hosts an open mic every Sunday at 6pm at Brew Ha-Ha. This open mic night has been a consistent opportunity in Baton Rouge for artists to play, practice and connect. "I think we offer a unique environment for Baton Rouge specifically in that we're not in a bar. We are all ages and things get started pretty early. That allows people who normally wouldn't have anywhere to play find a stage. The result has been that we have grown a very supportive community around the open mic night and it seems to have become an incubator of sorts for new acts in Baton Rouge. Whether they are brand new to performing in public, haven't played in years or are established but want to try something new," said Patterson.
If you want to play at Brew Ha-Ha next Sunday, "just show up. I put the sign-up sheet out as I'm setting up my gear and after I play a few songs, we go down the list. I don't reserve any spots ahead of time. Unless you sign up super late or we are absolutely packed on a particular night, everybody gets three songs if they want them," explained Patterson.
Whether you're looking for somewhere to play or for something chill to do, these songwriter nights are what you've been looking for. "There is a community that is interested in what singer/songwriters are doing. There is a lot of hidden talent here in Baton Rouge," said Hochkeppel.
Get out there and #listenlocalBR
If you're a musician looking to play these showcases you can email email@example.com for Lava Cantina or firstname.lastname@example.org for Jolie Pearl with links to your songs and any media.