The Guitar; an instrument almost everyone knows and can recognize the sound. The guitar has been around almost since the beginning of modern music, and is a part of many musical styles including the blues. But not every musician or student of music could afford a guitar, and had to rely on their own skills to create or build a guitar. Many of these guitars were made out of cigar boxes and pieces of wood and wire. These cigar box guitar players are the unknown musicians of history and one festival honors the tradition, skill and musicianship: The New Orleans Cigar Box Festival.
January 16-19, 2019, is the fourth installment of the New Orleans Cigar Box Festival and this year promises to be even bigger than last year. Over the four days, one will become immersed in all facets of cigar box guitars. Meet the builders, whether attending an afternoon workshop or meeting the players by enjoying the music together, because the cigar box guitar has become a instrument of choice for so many genres including, country, rockabilly, jazz, blues, rock n roll. Over the four days, TNCBF, will happen in multiple venues around New Orleans so it is also a cool way to check out different parts of the city. The opening performances take place at Chickie Wah Wah on Canal street. The Thursday seminar takes place at the New Orleans Jazz Museum( which also has two new awesome exhibits: The Professor Longhair exhibit and Drumsville, a history of drumming in new orleans.) The meat of the festival takes place Friday and Saturday at the Frenchmen theater on Frenchmen street, now the go to spot for much of the music happening in New Orleans. There are daytime and evening performances so you can take a break and grab something to eat (Dat Dog, a hot dog eatery is on Frenchmen, or the eclectic Adolfo’s above the the Apple Barrel.)
Last year featured performances by rising rock n roll star and New Orleans resident Samantha Fish, and legendary bluesman Little Freddie King. Freddie is especially important in the history of New Orleans blues because he learned the blues on a cigar box guitar he built when he was a young boy. This year will bring back these musicians as well as acts from around the globe to celebrate and enjoy the versatility, perseverance and just plain cool sound of cigar box guitars.
So if your looking for a unique New Orleans musical and historical experience that is still alive and thriving, take in a day or two at the New Orleans Cigar Box Festival. A sound that will stick with you and give you some great memories for cool stories to share.
These are links to the 2018 New Orleans Cigar Box festival performance by Samantha Fish, playing a Cigar box guitar.