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Alexandria, La. – Blues. It is a feeling. It is music. It is the spirit of Marion “Little Walter” Jacobs, who has been coined, “inarguably the single most influential artist in the history of Blues harmonica,” according to his biographers in Blues With A Feeling: The Little Walter Story.
The man behind the harmonica, the one who is said to have revolutionized the sound of Blues harmonica sounds through amplification, was born in a small Avoyelles Parish town in Central Louisiana. Only a few years old, he and his family moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, where he grew up.
The spirit of Little Walter returned last year to Alexandria by means of a music festival in his honor. The inaugural festival was held in May 2013, at the downtown amphitheater in Alexandria and featured local and regional Blues bands.
The 2014 Little Walter Music Festival will held Saturday, May 24, again at the downtown amphitheater in Alexandria, beginning at 11 a.m.
The festival will highlight Blues, Gospel, and Zydeco acts during the daylong festivities, which are free and open to the public. Trolleys will be running throughout downtown Alexandria for easy access to the Amphitheater. A trolley map can be found on the Little Walter Music Festival Facebook page. Food and beverages will be sold during the event.
The tobacco and smoke-free event will feature local musicians and singers Anointed & Appointed, and Tim Free AKA “Bigeasy Freezy.” Other artists such as Tullie Brae & the Medicine Man Revue, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band, Grady Gaines & the Texas Upsetters, and James Harman & Nathan James with Josh Hyde & the Hitchhikers will perform throughout the day at the Amphitheater.
Nacomi Tanaka & the Blues Temple will be performing at approximately 1 p.m. Tanaka and her band are bringing Little Walter’s music to the festival from their home country of Japan.
Special guest Mud Morganfield will introduce the free showing of the movie “Cadillac Records” at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center at 5 p.m. Morganfield is the eldest son of Muddy Waters, whose life is chronicled in the movie “Cadillac Records” alongside Little Walter and Etta James. Morganfield will also perform after the movie at the Amphitheater as a “Tribute to dad – Muddy Waters.”
When Little Walter’s daughter, Marion Diaz Reacco, and Muddy Waters’ son, Mud Morganfield, meet at the Festival, it will be the first time the bloodlines have reunited since Walter and Waters played together.
Jacobs, now a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, made his way north via North Louisiana, the Mississippi Delta, and Memphis, arriving in Chicago in 1947. Jacobs made a name for himself in Chicago with his harmonica sounds, playing with greats Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers.
According to Muddy Waters, “Little Walter…set the example for the world in harmonica playing.”
Sponsors of the 2014 Festival include the Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority, the Alexandria/Pineville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Partnership for Tobacco Free Living, Jena Choctaw Pines Casino and the Little Walter Foundation.
For more information about the festival or the Alexandria/Pineville area, visit www.AlexandriaPinevilleLa.com, www.facebook.com/littlewaltermusicfestival or call 1 (318) 442-9546.