Charlotte Bayou Festival features Louisiana-inspired everything

Local blues band ‘Horsefly’ adds tight blues sound

by Dee Grano

Jack Dunne, on drums, Paul Miller, on guitar and lead singer, Kevin Scruggs, on lead guitar and backup vocals, and Fuzzy, on bass, make up Horesfly. The band will play as part of the Charlotte Bayou Festival, which looks to bring a little Louisiana flavor to the Queen City this weekend. Photo courtesy of Randy Hargett

Having “grown up country,” Charlotte Bayou Festival organizer Shelton Roseboro relates to Cajun culture.

“They’re in tune with the earth and live on what the swamp provides,” he said. He hopes Charlotteans will share his appetite for Louisiana seafood and good music Saturday, June 23, from noon to 8 p.m. at Independence Park on Hawthorne Lane. Caricature artists, jugglers and the Charlotte Checkers will provide family entertainment, while activities will include mask-making, face painting and a hot pepper eating contest. More information is available online at www.charlottebayoufestival.com.

“Louisiana is famous,” Roseboro said. “Everyone either wants to go visit, or they’ve been and can’t wait to go back.”

Roseboro falls into the second camp, having visited the Bayou State several times with his wife, Cheree, whose mother is from Lake Charles. Wondering why Charlotte has no seafood festival, Roseboro pooled resources to create one that included arts, crafts and music.

Louisiana-inspired jazz and blues will prevail, though most performing musicians are from Charlotte. One such band called Horsefly will play “a little bit of both” originals and standards “with our own stamp on them,” said Paul Miller who sings and plays rhythm guitar.

Horsefly’s setlist for Saturday includes B.B. King’s “Outside Help” and “Stormy Monday,” in addition to “Hoochie Coochie Man,” written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters. Other covers will include Elmore James’ “One Way Out” popularized in the 1970s by The Allman Brothers Band, and “Confidence Man,” by The Jeff Healey Band. Selections from Louisiana native Tab Benoit and Creedence Clearwater Revival will add “that bayou feel.”  To learn more about Horsefly and hear them play, visit www.reverbnation.com/horseflyblues.

“No place in the world has such a large number of talented musicians,” Miller said of Louisiana. “In New Orleans, you can walk into any bar or find a corner jazz band and hear music that is incredibly tight.”  When compatible performers play together for a long time, “their sound is more than the sum of its parts,” Miller said. Horsefly strives to do the same.

Drummers like Horsefly’s Jack Dunne use subtle techniques to contribute to the whole sound. “He provides a solid rhythm and backbone for the song,” said Miller, who also credits lead guitarist Kevin Scruggs with creative techniques that make a big difference. Horsefly is rounded out by Miller’s wife Tabitha on vocals and a bassist named Fuzzy.

Horsefly formed in early 2011, practicing for several months before their first gig in October. They perform regularly at the 40 Rod Roadhouse in Mint Hill where they run a monthly blues jam. They look forward to playing their first outdoor venue at the Charlotte Bayou Festival.

“The food sounds great,” Miller said. “Getting to play is even better.”

The festival menu will feature Louisiana classics like red beans and rice, gumbo, jambalaya, frog legs, crab, oysters and crawfish, though Roseboro admits, “alligator tail has been hard to come by.”

The festival will feature more than 67 exhibitors, including photographers, painters, potters and other artists, as well as artisans who make jewelry, natural soap and soy candles. An eclectic blend of booths will sport everything from Mary Kay Cosmetics to pediatric dentistry.

Ultimately, Roseboro hopes the Charlotte Bayou Festival will recruit artists from Louisiana to collaborate with those in Charlotte. While true authenticity is the goal, Roseboro seeks to emulate the state’s culture and spirit. “I want people who have been to say, ‘That’s how it is.’”

The Charlotte Bayou Festival is free and open to the public. Though some dishes will be available for sale by the plate, an “All You Can Eat” pass is available for $25 in advance via the www.charlottebayoufestival.com, or $30 on-site. In addition to parking at Independence Park, festival-goers may take advantage of spaces at the Grady Cole Center.

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