New Orleans has a rich history of live local music and buzzes with culture, but just 75 miles up the river, Baton Rouge sits pulsing with a different kind of energy. Baton Rouge has been described as 'up-and-coming' with a diverse music scene full of everything from singer/songwriters to local rappers and new Indie bands. “New Orleans has a different cultural history than Baton Rouge. Because of that, I think there is a lot to be learned and I think that it is a source of very interesting interactions between artists in the two cities. New Orleans has been known as a center of culture for centuries. Most would agree that Baton Rouge is very new to seeing itself in that way. New Orleans is such a unique city in the world that experiencing its culture and community is a valuable experience for anyone. It’s a fantastic city, and it’s the closest city to Baton Rouge. It’s a logical place for Baton Rouge bands and musicians to go beyond their hometown and develop listeners in other places,” said Ben Herrington of Minos the Saint and Burris.
John Driver, a music/talent buyer in New Orleans agrees. Driver, as Family Fish Productions, is responsible for booking two Baton Rouge bands, Burris and Minos the Saint this Friday at Chickie Wah Wah, in New Orleans. Driver said, “I’m a true music lover. I go out and scout music for you to listen to in different venues. I buy the music I like. If I don’t buy the music I like for myself, how can I convince you to like it? Burris and Minos the Saint are two bands I scouted highly and they are probably, along with Ship of Fools, the three best things I’ve heard come out of Baton Rouge in the last two years. I thought Burris and Minos would garner a good crowd that would appreciate them more in an intimate setting, which would focus on the music. Chickie Wah Wah is a listening room; it is a fine listening room. You can come and have a good time but first and foremost, it’s the music.”
Driver is excited to host these two Baton Rouge bands and the bands are excited to play this post Thanksgiving show. “A lot of our friends play at Chickie Wah Wah. It’s always nice to play in a new venue that supports local music especially one that is not afraid to invite Baton Rouge bands into the New Orleans scene; it was very kind of them to do that,” said Peter Simon of Minos the Saint.
Driver books shows intentionally and has high hopes for this upcoming Friday show. He hopes to get music listeners interested in what’s happening and bring some Baton Rougeans to New Orleans while also involving the New Orleans scene in what is happening in Baton Rouge. “First, I hope to create a Baton Rouge buzz in New Orleans where students, resident and fans from BR will make the trip downriver to see Minos the Saint and Burris in an entirely different venue. I hope to garner a portion of the Baton Rouge audience. I also want to get these bands off to a new start. I want to get the music buyers interested in something new and something exciting. Lastly, these kids are going to come in here and kick ass and have a good show. I hope to not only garner a Baton Rouge audience who will make the trip downriver but also garner a New Orleans audience who will continue to support them,” Driver said.
“Music makes its way around; I think there are a lot of New Orleans bands that people care about in Baton Rouge and in the same way, New Orleans people will hear stuff they like and want to support it,” said Peter Simon of Minos the Saint.
This Friday, Minos the Saint will grace the stage at Chickie Wah Wah at 8pm. Driver said, “I’m interested in how Minos the Saint takes this chamber music and twists it around. I don’t know what to call it but I like the instrumentation and the way they take these mellow, sit back songs and energize them. That’s my attraction to Minos the Saint.”
Ben Herrington of Minos the Saint described Minos’ unique sound, “I think it’s the combining of equal part improvisation, classical background and folk with very unique songwriting. Those are essentially the basic elements that make our sound unique. I don’t think there are many groups who draw as strongly on those elements as we do. We draw on them in equal parts, the classical background, improvisation, folk influences and unique songwriting.”
Following Minos the Saint, Burris will play at 10pm. “Burris is unique in that every member of the band has a different musical identity; we all have very distinctive styles, we have a way of doing what we do that is all our own; the band also has such a wide range of influences and that comes from having a 7-person band,” said Scott Graves of Burris.
"I like Burris’s professionalism. When I refer to a band as being professional, I don’t mean their business sense. I mean their chops, their musical ability. I’m basically saying this a good band; this band has a future,” said Driver.
You can make the trip to Chickie Wah Wah to hear these two bands on Friday, November 27 and support Baton Rouge music making some noise in New Orleans. “I think the way for Baton Rouge bands to start playing in New Orleans more is to get connected down there. I think Baton Rouge musicians need to draw upon the experiences we’ve had in BR and how we formed our connections and community here and use that to help us understand how we get connected in New Orleans. I think for us it is first of all, respecting what is already going on there and learning about who is doing what and just allowing collaborations and interactions to happen naturally,” said Ben Herrington of Minos the Saint and Burris.
“We should be supporting the fact that New Orleans has such a history of live music whereas Baton Rouge is up-and-coming. For New Orleans to open up its doors for musicians like us, that’s really cool. I think one way to see this happen more is for bands to work with each other,” said Chris Hochkeppel of Burris.
Driver is doing what he can to create a space for Baton Rouge musicians in New Orleans. He describes himself as a music lover who wants to support good music. “Baton Rouge has a great music city and a great music program; Baton Rouge is more remembered for blues artists. I think a lot of these younger bands that are coming from Baton Rouge are really the torchbearers of this new scene. This is my first step; Chickie Wah Wah is making a dent. There’s no other music venues down here sticking their neck out and it’s gotta start somewhere,” said Driver.
Baton Rouge is conveniently located near two other great music cities, Lafayette and New Orleans and there’s no reason not to take advantage of our geographic location and shuffle around between these music communities. “I’m excited to have the people that I’ve been meeting in New Orleans come out and see these two groups. I’ve been hanging out with new people in New Orleans and I’m excited to expose them to two very hardworking Baton Rouge groups who are trying to be an active part of a New Orleans dynamic. I’ve heard Baton Rougeans say that you can’t play in NOLA unless you live there. That is not true but it is true to an extent. I think that in order for Baton Rouge bands to have a role in the scene in New Orleans, they need to come to the scene in New Orleans and make connections. As a New Orleans transplant via Baton Rouge, I’m happy to bring Baton Rouge bands into New Orleans. My connections are growing; I’ve met a lot of people. The New Orleans scene is bigger and a little more competitive than Baton Rouge, but still a very friendly scene,” said Scott Graves of Burris.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Jive team and don’t forget to emerge from your turkey coma and make the trip to New Orleans this Friday to #listenlocalBR
~Emily Jean McCollister