In Louisiana, the word “lagniappe” connotes “a little something extra”, a small gift included with a purchase, or an added bonus.  At Gator By the Bay, we heartily embrace the lagniappe concept, and include lots of extra goodies in your enjoyment of the festival.  In addition to all the great music you’ll hear on our 5 stages, here are some “extras” that you don’t want to miss —all included in your ticket price ! Continue reading

Eating Your Way Through Gator By the Bay

If you think that Gator By the Bay is only about music and dancing, you’re missing out on one of the tastiest facets of the festival.  Gator By the Bay is also about fantastic food—and in particular the signature cuisine of Louisiana.

crawfish group Debra Bourgeois GBB 2012_IMG_3197

Everybody loves crawfish! credit: Debra Bourgeois

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Free Dance Lessons at Gator By The Bay!

Festival organizer Peter Oliver is fond of saying that Gator By the Bay has a “no-fault” dance policy. What exactly does that mean? “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right”, he laughs.

Dance tent

As is evidenced by the big grins filling the festival’s dance floors, there are a lot of people doing it right!  But, maybe you want to learn a new dance, or perfect your technique, or have never danced in your life, and looking at all the fun everyone is having, think it’s about high time you learned…well then, you’re in luck because there is a full schedule of FREE dance lessons all throughout the festival.  At the Bon Temps Social Club Pavilion, classes are given all day long, in everything from Zydeco to Zumba and salsa to Charleston.  See the full schedule here. Continue reading

BeauSoleil’s Michael Doucet Talks About The Music


On Thursday, May 7, three time Grammy-winning Cajun band BeauSoleil Avec Michael Doucet will headline the Gator By the Bay Festival kick-off concert at Spanish Landing Park, across from San Diego International Airport.

Celebrating their 40th anniversary, the band has been called “the world’s greatest Cajun band” by Garrison Keillor, host of the iconic NPR radio show “A Prairie Home Beausoleil on A prairie HomeCompanion”, on which BeauSoleil has appeared more times than band leader Michael Doucet can count.  “I think we have played on the show at least once per year since 1982,” he recalls, “and in the early days, it really opened the door for us and introduced our music to a whole new audience. We’ve been told that we have been on more shows than any other guest artists.” Continue reading

The Pine Leaf Boys Will Be Bringin’ It to Gator By the Bay

Pine Leaf Boys

The award winning Cajun band Pine Leaf Boys will be firing up the stage at Gator by the bay. credit: Greg Miles

Four time GRAMMY-nominated, The Pine Leaf Boys have made their name by playing their own inimitable brand of Cajun music with youthful exuberance, wowing audiences not only in this country, but in the far reaches of the world as well.  Hailing from southwest Louisiana, the Pine Leaf Boys, known for their wild shows and thoughtful arrangements, have breathed new life into Cajun music, reviving ancient songs and bringing them to the bandstand.

Described by the New York Times as, “… the link that connects the young and the old generations,” and, “the best new, energetic, and fun Cajun band in a very long time,” the Pine Leaf Boys play original compositions as well as old fashion dance hall standards, bringing many of the more obscure songs of past masters into their repertoire and playing them with gusto. Continue reading

Latin Music Will Be Muy Caliente At Gator By the Bay

If you thought that Gator By the Bay was just about Cajun, zydeco and blues music, you’d only be partially right.  As awesome as those genres are, and as much as they form the heart of the festival, in recent years Gator By the Bay has expanded its boundaries to travel south, across the border, to include  a variety of Latin music.  The sounds of Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Cuba, and beyond all have a place at the festival, adding Latin spice to the musical gumbo. Here are some of the artists you can expect to see at Gator By the Bay: Continue reading

BeauSoleil Avec Michael Doucet to Kick Off Gator By the Bay 2015


 This Gator has grown!!  Too much fun to be limited to only three days, Gator By the Bay expanded in 2014 to include a Thursday night kick-off concert, and this tradition continues in 2015, when Gator By the Bay proudly presents the world-renowned Cajun music band, BeauSoleil Avec Michael Doucet on May 7, 2015. Continue reading

Brian Jack Returning to Gator by the Bay!

Brian Jack to headline Gator By the Bay 2015

Zydeco superstar Brian Jack returns to Gator By the Bay with his Zydeco Gamblers.

“I love playing in San Diego! Every time I’ve played Gator By The Bay the energy from the crowd brings me to a whole new level on stage”.  So says Brian Jack, who, with his band The Zydeco Gamblers, is returning for at least his 6th visit to the Mother’s Day weekend festival in 2015.  The fans are rejoicing!

Playing Friday, Saturday and Sunday,May 8, 9, and 10,  Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers are back again as our ever popular festival “house band”!   As much fun to watch as he is to listen to, Brian Jack is a true Zydeco showman.  A master accordionist, Brian and his band infuse both his original compositions and timeless favorites with a hip, urban style—fast–paced and with great harmonies.  Brian Jack plays and sings with a seemingly unbounded energy, dancing around the stage, jumping in the air, playing his accordion between his legs, rarely standing still— inspiring dancers and audiences to get up and shake it! Continue reading

Wayne Baker Brooks: Electrifying Contemporary Blues


Electrified and electrifying—that’s the Chicago blues of guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Wayne Baker Brooks, a leading force in the latest generation of contemporary blues luminaries.

Born and raised in Chicago, IL among the most prolific blues masters in the world, Wayne Baker Brooks’ roots run deep, as all good blues roots should. Yes, he’s the son of the renowned Lonnie Brooks, but he is an innovative and talented bluesman in his own right. Continue reading

Sara Petite: Her Name May Mean “Small” But Her Talent Is Huge


George Varga, music critic for  U-T San Diego once said of Sara Petite, “There is no medical evidence to prove that Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffith and Carrie Rodriguez joined forces to mother a fully-grown musician daughter.  But if they did, San Diego singer-songwriter Sara Petite would be the likely outcome.”

You could add Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin into that hypothetical mix as well, but the fact is, Sara Petite doesn’t need to be compared to anyone.  In the finest singer-songerwriter tradition, her music, voice and presence are totally her own, telling her stories in her unique way, while earning her nickname, Sweet Pea.  Her style ranges from bluegrass to country to rock’n’roll, and most of her material is wholly original. She counts among her influences Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Dolly Parton, Steve Earle, June Carter, and even Minnie Pearl. “I just love her humor!” she laughs.

Winner of the 2012 prestigious Chris Austin songwriting contest at Merlefest, and three San Diego Music Awards, in 2013 Sara released her fourth album, The Circus Comes To Town written both before and after the death of her partner, drummer Johnny Kuhlken, a tragedy that effected Petite intensely. “It’s a full perspective of the human being – jealousy, infidelity, fun, wit, tragedy, pain, loss, perseverance, substance abuse, shame, guilt and just plain silliness,” she says.

A crowd favorite, Sara has been playing at Gator By the Bay since 2008. Originally from Washington, she’s performed with her band, the Sugar Daddies, around San Diego for 10 years now, and recently returned from a very successful European tour.  She’ll be opening for Cajun music stars Beausoleil Avec Michael Doucet at the Thursday night concert, and she’s excited to be participating in Gator By the Bay again this year.  “It’s really fun for me,” she notes. “One of my favorite things is going around the festival and listening to other bands that I don’t often get to hear.”

When asked about her songwriting process, Petite explains,“ Sometimes I co-write with a friend, and sometimes it’s just me.  Sometimes the melody comes first, other times it’s the lyrics.  It’s more often late at night that something comes to me, even when I’m dreaming—or maybe half-dreaming.”

Catch Sara on Thursday,  May 7, at 7pm.