Bunk’n On The Bayou
The 2017 Bunk Johnson Jazz, Arts & Heritage Festival
By Shanna Perkins
The Bunk Johnson Jazz, Arts & Heritage Festival, Bunk’n On The Bayou, began in 1998. The festival was created as a way to engage community members in the arts, music and heritage in tribute to Bunk Johnson. While the legendary trumpeter was a New Orleans native, his time as a New Iberia resident was impactful to both his music and the area. The free festival pays homage to the art and vitality Bunk Johnson evoked each time he played music.
2017 Festival Poster
Each year, a local artist is tasked with the honor of creating the official artwork for the year’s festival. Recently, festival organizer Gilbert “Doc” Thomas attended an art auction where he was instantly floored by painting of Bunk Johnson created by Lucas Menard. He immediately knew who wanted to produce the 2017 festival poster.
Menard met with Thomas whose description of what he had envisioned inspired the artwork. Thomas imagined a midnight setting with the moon glaring across the water. He wanted Bunk Johnson floating by as if he had come back to life for one night. Menard shared the vision and got to work.
“We really wanted to capture the fun and liveliness of everybody enjoying Bunk’s music as if he were there one last time,” Menard explains gesturing to his artwork. “I wanted it to represent the festival, so I wanted to get the Steamboat Pavilion in there. I went and took pictures to get the perspective right. Bunk is in the distance, very ethereal. The ghost of his music is there and everybody is in the background singing, dancing and having a great time.”
Menard began painting in his spare time in the last two to three years. He has definitely started to make a name for himself, but this is by far his biggest project. It’s also noteworthy to add that Menard donated his piece to the festival. The art will be placed on posters and T-shirts for purchase.
“It was an honor to be asked to do the poster,” Menard explains. “It’s not everyday that you’re asked to created a poster for a festival, especially in your home town. It felt great to be able to give back to the festival. There’s so much happening right now with art and music being lost, so being able to have festivals like this to keep it alive is awesome – I was just glad to be a part of it.”
In keeping with the theme of fostering local art, this year the festival will include a tent, headed by Menard, where inspiring artist can display their current art or create pieces during the festival. Guests to Bunk’n On The Bayou can expect to hear music by Barry Martyn, Bunk Johnson Brazz Band featuring the Westgate High School marching band, Side Show, Roi Anthony & Legit and Lil Nate.
There are two aspects of the festival that remain the same today as when the festival originated – it’s free and it’s for everyone.
“We want this to always be a free festival,” Thomas reiterates. “We want everyone to able to come and enjoy themselves. We want everyone to feel comfortable enough to eat, listen to music and bring their lawn chairs, their blankets and their babies. We aren’t looking to attract a certain segment of this community – it’s for everyone.”
For the complete schedule of events, visit bunkjohnson.com