OUR VIEW: BBHF to honor ‘Gatemouth’ Brown

Published 1:53 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Bogalusa Blues and Heritage Festival has as its mission to honor musicians whose roots have wound their way through the piney woods of Washington Parish.

A year ago the BBHF honored Professor Longhair, a legendary New Orleans performer who was a Magic City native, at its inaugural BBHF event.

The organization has tabbed Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown as the honoree for its second festival, which is scheduled for September. Brown, a Texas native who died in 2005 shortly after Hurricane Katrina claimed his Slidell residence, is a 2012 Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee who has influenced such greats as Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa and Joe Louis Walker.

More importantly, as least as viewed through the prism of the BBHF, is Brown’s musical lineage can be traced directly to Studio in the Country, one of Washington Parish’s greatest, if little known, assets. Brown spent countless hours in recording sessions and other visits at the studio.

Additionally, Brown’s longtime manager was Jim Bateman of Bogalusa’s Real Records. In fact, when Brown was inducted into the hall of fame this past year it was Bateman who accepted the honor as the performer’s “manager, friend, co-producer and confidante” of 29 years.

Brown’s stellar career certainly makes him a deserving honoree. The selection also indirectly honors Bateman, who is equally deserving as the man who helped mold Brown’s successful career, as well as Studio in the Country.

One of Bogalusa’s secrets is its musical heritage, a source of pride among the parish residents but little known outside of the area. The BBHF is hoping to change that and finally give Bogalusa its just due in the musical genre.

The festival’s first year was successful by any standard and honoring Brown as the honoree for its sophomore event promises that 2013 may be even better.