Tag Archives: Baton Rouge

Scene Report: Folk and Americana in Baton Rouge

Clay-Parker-&-Jodi-James-600

Clay Parker and Jodi James

Any reliable definition of Baton Rouge’s local independent music scene first begins with a discussion of what it is not. Thanks to surrounding cities like New Orleans and Lafayette, whose musical identities have not only been established but fully branded, Baton Rouge musicians often find themselves comparing their scene to the more famous ones that surround it. As Louisiana’s state capital (and home to flagship Louisiana State University), Baton Rouge, with just over 200,000 residents, is primarily a college town given over to football, tailgating, and the kind of rowdy sportsmanship that goes with both. But that hasn’t stopped a growing number of invested community members who love roots music from creating their own world.

Thanks to its wealth of emerging talent, Baton Rouge’s independent music scene has started to truly define itself over the course of the last 10 years. It’s transformed from one rife with cover bands to a place where exciting original music is being made in folk pop, indie rock, Americana, and funk. As Ben Herrington, multi-instrumentalist for chamber folk band Minos the Saint, says, “There’s actually a benefit to having less of a strong identity [than neighboring cities], because it makes it easier for people to start from scratch creatively and sort of do whatever they desire to do.”

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Clay Parker and Jodi James Raise Money for Flood Victims Through Song

Clay Parker and Jodi James
Clay Parker and Jodi James.

Following a natural disaster, music may not proffer the hammer and nails needed to begin the rebuilding process, but it can offer something that’s almost as important. As Baton Rouge-based singer songwriters Clay Parker and Jodi James hunkered down in Baton Rouge during the historic storm that would become the worst U.S. disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, they knew they wanted to do something to help their neighbors and their friends—friends like Jade Amber, the photographer who took their publicity stills, whose family had lost their home.

But what exactly? The duo set about writing “On the Water,” recording their original folk tune on a four-track tape machine before digitizing it to share on Bandcamp in order to raise money to help those impacted by the flood. With Parker’s and James’ low, mournful harmonies sung over a lead banjo, “On the Water” offers up a hopeful prayer, and has so far raised over $500. All of the money the track earns will go towards the Louisiana United Way Flood Fund.

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