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Monday, Feb. 24, 2020

Tribute To Fallen Artists

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Cole Kickin’ Music Festival 2020

For the second year, area musicians and fans will gather to remember local musicians and artists who have died. The Second Annual Cole Kickin’ Music Festival is scheduled for March 13-15 at Bayou Thunder Saloon.

Event organizer Nikki Pepper insists, “I’m not an event planner.” Still, she decided to do something to remember Barry Eakin Jr. after he died suddenly of a heart attack in October 2018. “He was a very great guy,” Pepper said, “always supportive of other musicians. He was an active musician in Shreveport for 27 years, always smiling, he was that guy.”

Pepper explained that “Cole Kickin’” was a catchphrase of Eakin’s, like a signature phrase or trademark. That provided the name for the event designed as a tribute to fallen area musicians and artists. The event is free, and the outdoor events are open to all ages. The events inside Bayou Thunder will have the usual age restrictions.

The concept of the tribute was to bring audiences and musicians together to reconnect and remember their friends who are no longer around the local music scene. “I had picked some bands that shared the stage with [Eakin] in 2018,” Pepper said. “And before I knew it, I had so many bands, and people wanted to be a part of this thing. It was kind of an accidental festival, but it turned out to be three days, over 20 bands from the surrounding ArkLaTex. There was so much support shown by other music communities. It didn’t matter what age you were, what color you were, what genre – whatever – everybody came together.”

Cole Kickin’ Music Festival hopes to raise enough money to dedicate a memorial bench to all the local artists and musicians who have passed away. “Matt Hopper and I have teamed up with Sanctuary Glass Studios to design and erect a memorial bench that will be made with sandblasted glass with blown glass pieces inside of it that are instrument/ music-related. There will be an auction and raffle at this festival to help to raise funds for this memorial bench. There hasn’t even been one made like it; we will be making local and national history,” Pepper said.

“It was great last year. It’s hard to track this sort of event that’s not ticketed. With our estimations, we had at least 1,500 people come through that weekend.”

“After losing Barry, I tried to put together this little benefit, just a little something, get everybody all together and stuff like that.” Once Pepper got the ball rolling last year, the event snowballed. “I couldn’t say no to these bands that wanted to be a part of this thing,” she admitted. “At the beginning of it, I imagined his two sons walking through a river of people and saying, ‘Everybody’s here because of who our dad was.’” Barry Eakin Jr. is survived by sons, Christian (22) and Lance (16), sisters Erica and Tami, and his mother and father, Renee and Barry “Big Bear” Eakin.

Pepper hopes this second year is even bigger than the first. “I twisted some arms, and I have a few bands that are reuniting for this festival! Reunion performances with original band members: Escape 86, Seasons of Pain, Southcore, State of Reason and just maybe Last Machine Operation, the band that Barry and I played in together some 15 years ago.”

In a bit of entertainment irony, one of the bands scheduled to play for the fest tragically lost a longtime friend in February. Darin Lavender was added to the list of the fallen for this year’s event. That roll call includes Barry Eakin Jr., Darin Lavender, “Blue” Martin, Jerry Beach, Chris McLemore, Jeff Miller, Alicia Clark and Jimmy Day.

The 2020 edition will be called the Cole Kickin’ Music Fest: 2020 – Reuniting for Fallen Area Musicians & Artists. Sponsors include Bayou Thunder Saloon, Active Recovery, LLC, Pens and Needles Tattoo Studios, Running Dog Sportswear, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Newk’s Eatery, Grub Burger Bar, Buffalo Wild Wings and Twisted Root Burger Co.


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