Music History Writ Large in Downtown Shreveport

The Tipitina’s Music Office Co-Op in downtown Shreveport held a press conference on Wednesday, March 21 to celebrate a pair of milestones for the organization: the completion of phase one of Tipitina’s large-scale photo tribute to musicians with roots in Shreveport-Bossier, and the local launch of a school band instrument program, “Instruments A-Comin’.” Five-time GRAMMY nominee Kenny Wayne Shepherd, whose portrait is among those included in the new artwork adorning Tipitina’s, was in attendance. Other musicians featured in the artwork who were also in attendance at Wednesday’s unveiling included bluesman Buddy Flett, charismatic Southern University music professor Dr. Dorsey Summerfield, and Blade Studios co-owner Brady Blade, Jr.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd checks out his new portrait at Tipitina's Music Office Co-Op.

While I had to dash before hearing remarks from the group, I did get to shake hands with Tipitina’s Foundation co-founder Roland Von Kurnatowski and tell him “thanks.” It’s hard to overstate the dramatic visual impact that these larger-than-life photos have on Shreveport’s West Edge Arts District. The corner of Texas Street and Louisiana Avenue is now an enormous billboard promoting our region’s music heritage. The artwork ranges from a beautiful yet profoundly “staged” image of Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter (Ledbetter was usually impeccably dressed, here he wears overalls and a neck handkerchief) to an iconic photo of 70’s sound-art collective The Residents. Others who grace the building include Victoria Williams, pianist Van Cliburn, country star Kix Brooks, and more. To see these larger-than-life images for yourself, visit Tipitina’s at 700 Texas Street in downtown Shreveport.

To see a few more photos from the press conference, check out our Flickr set.

Tipitina’s Shreveport office doesn’t seem to have a website; anyone interested in learning more about their outreach programs benefiting area musicians should call (318) 934-0000. Shreveport-Bossier band directors and representatives of area school music programs should click here to apply for the $10,000 Tipitina’s Foundation grant.

3 comments

  1. It is true that Huddie Ledbetter was almost always dressed in his double breasted suit. I for one was thrilled to see the photo that they used when I drove to Tipitina’s to see what I had read about. Lead Belly’s was the first one I saw, heading west on Texas Street………HUGE picture, it dwarfs the statue of him a few blocks away. Maybe we finally know what the statue of Huddie is pointing towards.

    It is also true that what he was wearing was “staged” for publicity. It was state of the Art publicity at that time, though. This was from the TIME/LIFE Newsreel that was shown in movie theatres across America, before Television, is was the best “visual” news/publicity on film.

    Lead Belly was the “toast of the Town” in NYC when he first arrived, and news(and pictures) spread fast across the country about him. His contribution to American music can not be overstated.

    1. Thank you, Bruce! It still amazes me, when I drive down Texas Street, just how much these images on the Tipitina’s building have done to improve the look of the West Edge of downtown. I absolutely love all of them, and was shocked to see The Residents make the selection cut! Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  2. I don’t get downtown often enough. I was on my way to the record store and the Robinson whan I saw this huge picture of The Residents on the side of the Tipitina’s building. I had a Philip K. Dick moment (a common occurence for me with my aging and addled neurons) and had to ask James at D.O.B. if he saw it too, or if I was just dreaming it. But yes, there is indeed a huge picture of The Residents on the side of a building in downtown Shreveport. This made me very happy.

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