8th Annual New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival Returns to New Orleans Jazz Museum

Article Contributed by Doug Deutsch | Published on Friday, November 24, 2023

The 8th annual New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival at the New Orleans Jazz Museum from Thursday, January 18 through Saturday, January 20 offers a stellar celebration of the art, music and history of homemade stringed instruments in the city where those devices played a role in the early development of Jazz and Blues.

Over the course of the three-day event, performances will be staged featuring guitar phenom Erin Coburn, Louisiana Blues veteran Lil' Jimmy Reed and Louisiana Music Hall of Fame inductee Jonathon “Boogie” Long, plus Cigar Box Serenaders, Ghalia Volt, Steve Arvey, John Nickel, La Durance Blues Band, Memphis Lightning, John Mary Go Round and a dozen other top cigar box guitar performers.

During the Thursday Night Symposium, second-generation Louisiana Blues musician and highly acclaimed actor Chris Thomas King will discuss his book, The Blues: The Authentic Narrative of My Music and Culture, while noted New Orleans visual artist Charles Gillam will talk about his folk-art guitars.  An instrument builders’ forum and contest is slated for Friday afternoon.

Only one-hundred-and-fifty all-inclusive tickets are being sold to this unique and intimate cultural experience.  All aspects of the event will be held within the comfortable confines of the Jazz Museum.  Further information and tickets are available on the website: NewOrleansCBG.com.

The New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival (NOCBGF) was founded in 2016 and quickly gained a reputationfor outstanding entertainment.  The 2019 edition won Offbeat Magazine's "Neighborhood Festival of the Year" award.  In  2020, NOCBGF partnered with internationally-acclaimed singer/guitarist Samantha Fish to expand the growth and outreach of the festival and the cigar box guitar.  The global pandemic forced the 2021 shows to go virtual, with two nights of supercharged video streamed via Mandolin.com. Continued pandemic concerns caused the festival to be canceled in 2022.  A return to live performances this past January at NOCBGF 2023 was a thrill for everyone involved, and the upcoming festivities promise be just as satisfying.

Throughout U. S. history, pioneers, Civil War soldiers, farmhands, street singers and other resourceful musicians found ways to build expressive instruments from household items and random hardware, most notably in Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta.

“Cigar Box Guitar” is a catchall phrase used to describe the general category of improvised stringed musical devices consisting of banjos, basses, dulcimers, fiddles, mandolins, and what-have-you. Many musicians throughout the world are currently using homemade gear to record, perform live, or play at home, making these unique instruments and their authentic, traditional sound a staple of today’s music scene.