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Waterfront Zydeco dinner party in Lake Charles, Louisiana

Louisiana

Lake Charles, Louisiana: Discovering a Music Renaissance

By: Zaida Rios

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  • States:
    Louisiana

There’s a story here – one with a good beat.

Music genres such as Cajun, Zydeco and swamp pop really took off in this Southwest Louisiana town, also known for its savory cuisine and the immersive Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Back in the day, traveling musicians would always make a stop in Lake Charles. Today, Lake Charles remains an ideal place to experience live music. Local bars and pubs showcase an assortment of music by local and regional bands.

Small Town, Big Music Scene

At Luna Bar and Grill, you’re bound to experience the best local bands as well as national acts. The venue prides itself on an impressive lineup of curated live music, but the food and drinks are popular too. The restaurant is continuously voted one of the best places to eat in Southwest Louisiana. If you’re in town on a Sunday, add the jazz brunch to your plans.

At Jack Daniels’ Bar and Grill located within the L’Auberge Casino Resort, it’s not just whiskey that’ll get your toes tapping; even though you’ll want to order a glass or two of this legendary spirit. Come for the good drinks and stay for the live music acts.

Sloppy’s Downtown invites you indoors for globally-inspired street food, plus two bars, a micro-brewery and a coffee station with tempting made-from-scratch desserts. Friday and Saturday nights mean music and dining with performances from local and regional performers. Both unconventional and inspiring, it makes perfect sense that Sloppy’s hosts a Zydeco brunch on Saturdays.

Live music over craft beer and tacos at Jack Daniels’ Bar and Grill

Live music over craft beer and tacos at Jack Daniels’ Bar and Grill
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Shrimp and Jazz Pair Up

You’ll have a ball at the Gulf Coast Shrimp & Jazz Festival. What makes this shindig so special is the outpouring of love for Louisiana jazz in all its forms. Listed as a 2017 Top Twenty Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, this festival is where you can expect to see Grammy-caliber jazz acts plus Louisiana Music Hall of Fame artists at Jazz After Dark, a special concert night not to be missed. The Jazz Clinic introduces an educational forum for jazz musicians of all levels with workshops and clinics. For the younger set, the “All That Jazz” Kidz Zone is the place to be with free cotton candy and tons of activities, including caricature drawing sessions. You may adore jazz but love shrimp even more. No worries; just follow the scent of shrimp jambalaya, seafood gumbo, fried shrimp and more – all on the menu here. Stop by local food stalls for shrimp dishes straight from Louisiana chefs and downhome kitchens.

Washboard and button accordion musicians playing Zydeco music

Washboard and button accordion musicians playing Zydeco music
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Marshland Festival

Summer brings even more good times in Lake Charles. It’s also time for a Southwest Louisiana heritage gathering – the Marshland Festival, held in honor of Southwest Louisiana culture, especially the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, known for its wildlife-rich marshes, and extensive wetlands. Performances are centered around Zydeco, Country and Cajun musical traditions. Expect talented musicians and bands, tasty food booths, regional arts & crafts and spontaneous dancing! Don’t be shy, if the music moves you, get out on the dance floor.

A lakeside musical performance

A lakeside musical performance
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Getting There

Fly into George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and rent a car to Lake Charles; it’s a little more than a two-hour drive. You can also fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, rent a car and drive three and a half hours to Lake Charles.