22. Looking Forward to Little Walter
This Saturday, downtown Alexandria will host the Second Annual Little Walter Music Festival. “Little” Walter Jacobs is one of the foremost names in blues known for revolutionizing blues harmonica playing and for his hits “Juke” and “My Babe.” A native of central Louisiana, born in Marksville and raised in Alexandria, it is only natural for our city to honor this bluesman with a music festival.
Throughout the afternoon and evening of Saturday, May 24, blues bands will pack the stage of the Alexandria Amphitheater. Some of the artists have local connections like Leon Medica—long-time member of the band Louisiana’s LeRoux known for the songs “New Orleans Ladies” and “Take a Ride on a Riverboat.” Other artists come to Alexandria from afar. One such artist, Mud Morganfield will present a tribute to his father Muddy Waters, the Chicago bluesman whose own electric direction inspired Little Walter to amplify his harmonica playing. Another artist Nacomi Tanaka is a Japanese blues singer who comes to Alexandria as a cultural exchange.
Film aficionados will also have the chance to see Cadillac Records, featuring Beyoncé in a movie recounting the careers of Little Walter, Muddy Waters, and “The Matriarch of R&B” Etta James. The film showing will be at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center—a close walk from the Amphitheater—from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM that evening.
All events are free of admission, courtesy of the Alexandria-Pineville CVB who organizes the festival, which is really quite a treat considering the caliber of artists coming for the festival. I know I have been preparing for the festival by listening to some blues recordings, and I also had a chance to attend the CVB’s Tourism Day at the I-49 Welcome Center a few days ago. Leon Medica performed, and we celebrated Little Walter with a birthday cake. Hope to see you Saturday!
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a recent graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College—Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University. There, he studied music history, completing an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.” Now living in Alexandria, he is one of the founding members of TicketCentral and will also be writing this season’s program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra.