Boggy Bayou welcomes Royal and Matte

The 25th Annual Boggy Bayou Festival, April 3, to April 5, in Pine Prairie, welcomes Billy Joe Royal and Travis Matte to its stage.

Royal has had success in both the country and pop fields, and he has hits that stretch from the 60s to the 90s. More than 25 years since “Down in the Boondocks” put Royal’s name on the map, his R&B tinged tenor is still thrilling radio listeners and concert goers. With hits like “I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow,” “It Keeps Right on Hurting” and “Tell It Like It Is,” Royal continues to deliver a smashing sound to his audiences.

Royal began appearing on his uncle’s radio show in his native Valdosta, Georgia, at the age of 11. By 14, he was a regular on the Georgia Jubilee with the likes of Ray Stevens, Jerry Reed, Joe South, Freddy Weller and other regular guest stars from the Grand Ole Opry.

Royal kept practicing and listening to musical groups like the Soul Stirrers and the Stabple Singers. After releasing a few local singles that failed to take off, Royal moved to Cincinnati, where his eclectic background allowed him to do creditable covers of everyone from Buck Owens to James Brown. He was rooming with Joe South back then when Boondocks, written by South, came to be. This made Royal a hot national commodity and he joined “Dick Clark’s Cavalcade of Stars,” a grueling three-month string of one-nighters featuring 18 acts, including occasional appearances like Tom Jones, Neil Diamond and the Shirelles, all backed by the same band.

“It was a death march,” he said with a laugh. “In fact, there were only about four or five of us who made it the whole way. There was one bus and if there were 35 seats, there were 35 people on it.”

He had hits like “I Knew You When” and “Hush” followed by 1970’s “Cherry Hill Park,” which signaled the end of his chart-toppers. For the next decade he worked in Vegas and Tahoe. Then Royal made it to Nashville in the mid 1980s and found a new stream of hits like “Burned Like a Rocket,” “I Miss You Already,” “Out of Sight and Out of My Mind” and “Love Has No Right.”

Look for Royal on the stage Saturday, April 4, from 8 to 9:30 p.m.

Matte, a local sensational Zydeco and Cajun artist, will be taking the stage Friday, April 3, from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. With hits like “Vibrator” and “Booty Call,” locals will be flocking to join in the fun.

Parking at the fairgrounds is free. Admission is $6 per day for those, 13 and older, and $2, for those 12 and under. Toddlers and infants are free.

Festival organizers said there is something for the whole family with carnival rides, hot air balloon rides on Friday, arts and crafts, contests like boudin eating, egg tossing and hula hoops, a Catholic mass Sunday, a dog’s contest, etc. Besides Matte on Friday, James Dupre will take the stage. Saturday’s lineup brings the Ville Platte Playboys, Paul and Pete and Shane West and the Rest.

No ice chests or pets will be allowed. Bring your lawn chairs. All proceeds benefit the Pine Prairie Nursing Home. For more on the festival and other events like the trail ride on March 28, call the nursing home at 599-2031.

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