Popular Natchitoches musician and former Red River High Band Director, Hardrick Rivers will be honored as a Louisiana Tradition Bearer at a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. at The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum. The event, “A Life Playing the Blues,” is free and open to the public.
As part of the program, Rivers will discuss his music with Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University, and perform. Rasmussen will honor Rivers on behalf of the Louisiana Folklife Commission and Louisiana Folklore Society.
October has been declared as Folklife Month in Louisiana by Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser. Rivers is one of six Louisiana musicians and craftspeople being honored as a Tradition Bearer.
Rivers, a 2001 inductee into the Hall of Master Folk Artists at Northwestern State, began playing music early in his life. At age 13, Hardrick began to study under and play with one of the masters of Louisiana music, Overton Owens—sometimes called Dr. Drip Drop. Hardrick quickly joined Overton’s new group, Overton Owens and the Mustangs, which was formed during the late 1960s. Hardrick worked hard in those early years to find his unique sound on the saxophone.
Eventually, Rivers formed his own group, the Lighthouse Crew, with Pop Hymes, B.B. Major, Jackie Banks and James Lee. Rivers left for Los Angeles in 1992 and the band continued to play without him. In 1994, he returned home to Natchitoches Parish and formed the Rivers’ Revue Band, while B.B. Major started the B.B. Major Blues Band. Since Roque’s Grocery, Pool Hall, and House of Blues has been the location that started many of these musicians in their musical careers, Rivers decided to organize a Blues Reunion there in 1996. This reunion turned into a monthly jam session at Roque’s, which, according to a local blues authority, has become known as “the best juke joint/blues bar in the South.” During the summer of 2003, Rivers, along with the B.B. Major Blues Band, comprised of Bud Albright, Monty Lamaze, Shane Ward, and Les Whitt, toured Italy playing at numerous blues events.
Rivers is an annual headline performer at the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival and performs throughout north and central Louisiana. He is a former band director at Red River High School in Coushatta.