Area singers and songwriters are at the Blue Moon Saloon & Guesthouse and Warehouse 535 collaborating with world-renowned musicians this week for the South Louisiana Songwriters Festival & Workshop, the first songwriting retreat The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation has hosted stateside.
Blue Moon and Warehouse owner Mark Falgout has been entrenched in live music for more than 20 years. He said he wanted guests like Grammy-winning folk singer Ani DiFranco and Grammy-winning songwriter Jim Lauderdale to see the talent Acadiana has to offer, and for Acadianians to collaborate with professionals to hone their craft.
“Music starts with the song. If you have a great song, it can be recorded in five different ways and still a great song. Part of it going back and start from the very beginning,” said Falgout. “We had Bobby Charles Jimmy C. Newman, and we have some creative people here in town, but we but thought it’d be a good idea to bring folks from out of town and get them to collaborate with our folks.”
The festival is a week-long workshop that began on Tuesday morning.
“We’ve seen incredible stuff in the first hours. Local songwriters who have been doing it for a few years sitting in with people doing it for 50 years. They’re all participating in the process,” said Falgout. “You have to stretch and make yourself uncomfortable.”
The festival is a collaboration itself. The Buddy Holly Foundation partnered with publishing behemoth BMG, and special guests, aside from a few regionally familiar names, were chosen through BMG’s talent.
Falgout attended one of the songwriters workshops in the United Kingdom, and when the opportunity arose, he got to work. Lafayette had to compete against the same cities it strives to emulate: Austin and Nashville. A month after he gave a 12-page presentation on Lafayette – “the music that was created here, songs inspired by this area, who we were, the clubs we owned, venues we started,” said Falgout – he got the call.
“The Buddy Holly foundation is tight with Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan,” said Falgout. “I think once this event proves to be a success, we will start seeing larger names coming down here. We have big names that are here now. I’ve got Garry Tallent, Bruce Springsteen’s bassist and songwriter playing music on the porch right now.”
The Songwriters Festival & Workshop is a four-year commitment the Buddy Holly Foundation made to Lafayette, which ensures the festival will have the time to grow and develop, and, hopefully, become a mainstay.
“Our goal is for people come in on a regular basis,” said Falgout. “Hire our musicians; create with our writers, and play in our venues. The end goal is to have people come in from outside and remind them how cool a vibe we got here. I think we’ve become complacent and think great music is second nature. I travel a lot, and trust me, great music is not everywhere.
“Our kids are the next generation, so we want to make sure there is a scene for them when they get to that age, to be in the middle of a creative space.”
For more information on the festival, visit Facebook.com/SOLOSongwritersFestival.