TJ Wheeler. Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Cigar Box Music Festival/Instagram

Homemade Stringed Instruments Take Center Stage at Cigar Box Guitar Festival

January 17-20 marks the return of the Cigar Box Guitar Festival, a celebration of homemade stringed instruments and their relationship to blues music. Its the third annual iteration of the Fest, which is presented by the New Orleans Blues Society, an organization which uses proceeds from ticket sales to stage future events and promote blues-centered performances.

This year’s Cigar Box Music Festival boasts a lineup including Best of the Beat Awards nominees Samantha Fish and Little Freddie King, plus Shane Seal & the Snakes, April Mae & the June Bugs, Cash O’Riley, Steve Arvey, Ivor Simpson Kennedy and many more. Performances take place in various venues:

Night one kicks off at Chickie Wah Wah’s, where Australian singer/songwriter Ivor Simpson Kennedy will begin at 6:00 p.m., demonstrating his version of Delta Blues classics and his own sterling compositions. Sensational New Jersey Roots trio April Mae & the June Bugs will perform two sets beginning at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10.

The Old U.S. Mint hosts night two, where “King of the Cigar Box Guitar” Shane Speal will present discussions and demonstrations at the Jazz Museum. The event will also feature unplugged performances, beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Frenchmen Theatre will house a two-day series of events, beginning with January 19’s three-segment schedule: Friday Morning Builders’ Forum andContest at 11:00 a.m.; the Friday Afternoon Showcase at 3:00 p.m. featuring sets by traditional Cajun fiddler David Greely, CBG veteran Steve Arvey and builder/performer John Nickel; and the Friday Night Spotlight at 7:00 p.m., with performances by New Orleanians Cigar Box Serenaders, Blues duo DirtyFace and New Jersey Roots trio April Mae & the June Bugs. Tickets are $15.

The festival ends on January 20 at the Frenchmen Theatre. Ticket price includes admission to the Saturday Afternoon Hootenanny at 1:00 p.m., with performers including New England troubadour T J Wheeler, Australian singer/guitarist Ivor Simpson Kennedy, San Antonio’s Cool Cat Charlie, Michigan Rockabilly star Cash O’Riley and New Orleans painter/instrumentalist Amzie Adams; and, at 7:00 p.m., the Saturday Night Shindig, Little Freddie King, CBG stars Shane Speal & the Snakes and Samantha Fish. Tickets are $15.