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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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

Horace Trahan & the New Ossun Express

Horace-Trahan“Back by Popular Demand” is a phrase often heard, but in the case of Horace Trahan & the New Ossun Express, it is literally true.  Ever since the band played Gator By the Bay in 2011, the fans have been begging us to bring them back—and we listened!  Horace and the Band rarely tour outside of their native southwest Louisiana, so we are doubly excited to present them on both Saturday and Sunday on each of the main stages.

Horace Trahan is a world renowned Cajun and Zydeco artist, respected for his ability to “pull the hell” out of an accordion and belt out powerful vocals.  He is known as the creator of the much-covered, ironic zyde-cajun classic, “That Butt Thing”, and no stranger to controversy when, in the middle of a successful career in the early 2000s, he defied stereotypes and switched his focus from Cajun to zydeco music—something relatively unheard of in his Louisiana Cajun community.

Horace began playing the accordion at 15, having already achieved proficiency on the guitar and saxophone. At 16, he began singing Cajun music in French and English, and by 18 he was on the road touring with the great D.L. Menard.

These days, Horace Trahan and the New Ossun Express is known as a quintessential zydeco dancers’ band, playing not only tunes that are a joy to dance to, but are musically sophisticated as well.  Horace’s creativity and mastery of the accordion has earned him the respect and admiration of his fans and his fellow musicians.

In addition to Horace, The New Ossun Express members are: James Prejean, bass; Horace’s father-in-law, Rodney Bernard, rubboard; Doug Garb, saxophone, harmonica, flute; and Shane Bernard, Horace’s brother-in-law, drums.

Horace Trahan & the New Ossun Express will be playing at Gator By the Bay on both Saturday & Sunday, and, in a special appearance, Horace Trahan will join Andre Thierry, along with Chubby Carrier and Ryan Brunet for a four accordion masters’ extravaganza at the festival’s Saturday Night Dance, held in the Harbor Island Ballroom of the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina. You KNOW you don’t want to miss that!

Balfa Toujours—Exceptional Musicians Coming Together!

BalfaTouj_RevTo call Balfa Toujours a band of All Stars would not be an exaggeration in the least.  This exciting Cajun band from Louisiana, carrying on in the soulful, impassioned Balfa Brothers tradition, is led by Christine Balfa, daughter of the late, great Cajun fiddler Dewey Balfa. Originally founded after Dewey’s death in 1993, the extended family band reemerged last year after a five year hiatus, revitalized and repopulated by some of the finest Cajun musicians on the scene today—each a well-respected musician in his or her own right who also plays with some of the most recognized contemporary Cajun bands.  According to Christine, they’ve come together with the stated purpose of expressing music through good times and bad, and just celebrating life.

The band members include:

Christine Balfa, guitar and vocals.  Christine grew up playing triangle with her father Dewey and absorbed music and language from the thriving culture around Basile, Louisiana. Her singing communicates powerful feelings directly to the heart, and she collaborates on many of the group’s original songs. You might have seen her cameo appearances in the 1986 movie, “The Big Easy” but you’ve probably enjoyed her performances more recently with the (mostly) all-women Cajun Band, Bonsoir Catin, which she also founded and which drew rave reviews at Gator By the Bay in 2012. Christine is the founder and director of Louisiana Folk Roots, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Louisiana traditions.

Yvette Landry, bass guitar, vocals.  Yvette is one busy lady! Not only is the Breaux Bridge, La native an integral member of Balfa Toujours, she leads her own band, The Yvette Landry Band, and plays with both Bonsoir Catin and  Lafayette Rhythm Devils, whom we loved last year at Gator By the Bay. By day, Yvette is an educator, teaching American Sign Language and Song Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and she has also taught bass, guitar, accordion and vocals at numerous music and dance camps.  And if that isn’t enough, she just published her first children’s book!

Courtney Granger, fiddle, vocals.  Master fiddler Courtney is a Balfa family cousin, evidenced in his powerful vocals and heavily Balfa-influenced fiddling. He originally joined Balfa Toujours as a teenager in 1999, but most people recognize him as the highly sought-after fiddler in the four-time Grammy nominated The Pine Leaf Boys, with whom he has played since 2008, including at Gator By the Bay in 2009.

Kevin Wimmer, fiddle. Kevin Wimmer, who has been playing fiddle since the tender age of three, performed frequently with Dewey Balfa and learned the essence of the tradition directly from him. One of the original members of  Balfa Toujours, Kevin is best known today as the fine fiddler and powerful vocalist of the Grammy nominated Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, which he joined in 2011, performing with them at Gator By the Bay in 2012. He has also been a member of the Red Stick Ramblers and played with some of the biggest names in both Cajun and zydeco music.

Ryan Brunet, accordion. Ryan, raised on the Louisiana bayou in a French speaking household, was introduced to the accordion at the age of 12, and his passion for Cajun music was born.  A multi-instrumentalist, he fronted his own band, Ryan Brunet & the Malfecteurs, wowing the Gator By the Bay crowds in 2012, and has played with The Dirt Pile Ramblers, Amanda Shaw and the Cute Guys, Kermit Venerable, Lafayette Rhythm Devils as well as the Grammy Nominated Pine Leaf Boys and Lost Bayou Ramblers. In 1999 he was honored by the Cajun French Music Association with their prestigious New Dawn Award.

Danny DeVillier, drums.  In addition to playing the drums with Christine and Yvette in both Balfa Toujours and Bonsoir Catin, and with the Lafayette rock band FIGHTS!, Danny teaches music at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, South Louisiana Community College and the Acadiana School of the Arts. He has shared the worldwide stage with some of Louisiana’s most well-known musicians and his arrangements and compositions include works for marching band, orchestra, percussion ensemble, dance, theater, and other mixed media.


All together, Balfa Toujours packs some powerful talent, and we are beyond excited to bring them to the Gator By the Bay stage!  Look for the band’s latest cd, due out this year featuring both original music and traditional favorites.

Tab Benoit Comes to Gator By the Bay!

tab-benoit-2Now in it’s 13th year, Gator By the Bay continues to be the West Coast’s largest Cajun, Zydeco, and Blues music festival, delighting over 17,000 attendees on the 2nd weekend of May, every year.

This year, the good times of Gator By the Bay expand to 4 days, with the addition of a festival kick-off, Thursday Night Blues Extravaganza featuring Louisiana guitar legend Tab Benoit on May 8,  under the Festival Stage tent at 6:30 PM.

Benoit, who has chocked up three Grammy nominations, four Blues Music Award’s “Entertainer of the Year” titles, and has garnered five Contemporary Male Blues Music Awards, consistently plays to sold-out crowds. A founding member and driving force of Voice of the Wetlands, an organization of musicians, filmmakers and conservationists dedicated to preserving Louisiana’s endangered wetlands, Tab Benoit is the real deal— a masterful musician and a true son of the Louisiana bayou.

Seating is limited and this concert WILL sell out! Don’t wait—order tickets here:

Tab Benoit

tab benoitGator By The Bay is thrilled to announce the addition of legendary American blues guitarist, musician, singer and renown Voice of the Wetlands conservationist Tab Benoit to Gator By The Bay’s 2014 musical lineup. Tab Benoit is scheduled to play a special Gator evening show on Thursday May 8, 2014 kicking off what promises to be the best year yet in Gator By The Bay’s 13 year history.

A Louisiana born artist, it’s been said that Benoit is “from so deep in the wetlands that it’s almost the ocean”.  Living and breathing the blues first-hand from a faculty of living blues legends Benoit plays a combination of zydeco, creole, blues, R&B, and rock. His second-to-none skills on the Fender Telecaster Thinline electric guitar combined with his gritty blues and rootsy jams will reel you in, spin you around and all the while feed your inner-Cajun hunger.

A four time Blues Music Awards “Entertainer of the Year”, a three time Grammy nominated and a five time Contemporary Male Blues Music Award winner Benoit’s album award-winning release of  “Medicine” will not only help relieve any pain and suffering with his heavy dose of musical medicine… it will down-right soothe your soul. From our side of the Bayou it looks like Tab Benoit is just what the Gator doctor ordered.

Stay tuned to this Gator Channel as we roll out the 2014 musical line-up, Gator News and happenings of what promises to be the best Gator By The Bay in the history of ever!

Manny Cepeda Ochestra

Manny CepedaGator By The Bay is happy to announce the addition of Classic Salsa, Merengue, Cumbia, Bachata and Cuban musician, Manny Cepeda to our 2013 lineup.  Scheduled to perform on Saturday May 11, 2013 on the Gator By The Bay’s Mardi Gras stage Gator attendees will undoubtedly embrace the passion and energy that Cepeda brings to every performance.

Performer percussionist, composer and singer Manny Cepeda has been performing professionally since the age of seven. With over 50 years of musical experience Cepeda has helped define the Latin music scene in San Diego and around the world. Although there are easily a million ways that we could detail Cepeda’s renown performances but we believe it is best described in his online biography:The energy his compositions bring to the audience is nothing but fire and excitement. His unique music enriches your life culturally as well as socially with his unique combination of sequence and live performance, blending technology and human feel unequaled in the entire West Coast“.

To stay up-to-date on Manny Cepeda and all of our lineup additions remember to check back frequently. While our musical lineup continues to grow one thing remains true… 2013 Gator By The Bay is shaping up to be the biggest and best Gator event to date and truly a musical event you do not want to miss.





Sue Palmer

sue palmerGator By The Bay 2013 is proud to announce the return of San Diego-based Great and winner of the San Diego Music Awards “Best Blues Album“, Sue Palmer.

Add some beehive history, some soulful Blues, a big splash of glamorous style and a lot of boogie woogie and what you will get is Sue Palmer. For over a decade Sue has been making her mark as a top-level artist and a boogie woogie fashionista with her high-energy band the Motel Swing Orchestra. Sue’s glam-talent is described best in her online biography: ” [Sue] Wearing a couple of pounds of big cocktail rings on each hand, she wails through a very complete blues keyboard vocabulary like the veteran she is”.

However you phrase it we know this much is true: Sue has amazed audiences around the world and back again with her Blues and we are truly honored to have her, her boogie, her woogie and her “phenomenal left hand” grace Gator By The Bay this year.

Remember to check back here often for Gator news, 2013 lineups and updates! In the meantime start stretching….this is going to be the best Gator By The Bay event to date!


Mama Tokus

Mama TokusHave you experienced Mama Tokus? Whether you are a diehard fan or you have only heard the buzz about Her Greatness we highly recommend that you experience firsthand the one….the only…. Mama Tokus May 11 and May 12, 2013 at Gator By The Bay.

Meet Mama Tokus.  To simply write that she is a soulful blues and gospel singer from the south doesn’t truly convey Her Greatness . Mama is:  entertaining, an outstanding musician, edifying, funky, fresh, cheeky, hilarious, a hostess with the most-est and a poetess to boot. When she isn’t busy creating her next original act she is performing nu soul, blues and R&B tunes, nu-music-hall ditties and songs that will make you laugh. A lot.

Please don’t just take our word for it, when it comes to Mama Tokus…seeing is believing and you will be a true believer after Gator By The Bay 2013. Guaranteed.

Keep staying tuned to the Gator By The Bay 2013  for daily lineup updates and Gator News that can only be found here!