New Orleans music scene a perfect fit for self-taught musician Larry Warford

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints had a little extra recruiting advantage over the rest of the NFL when it came to wooing guard Larry Warford in free agency: the New Orleans music scene.

Warford, 26, is a passionate music lover who has been teaching himself how to play the bass guitar since college, the electric guitar since his rookie year in the NFL and the drums since last spring.

He even played guitar at a few open mic nights in a local club while playing for the Detroit Lions over the past four years -- though he hasn’t done so yet in New Orleans.

When asked if Saints fans might find him up on stage on a given night if they wander into the right club, Warford said, “They might see me right next to the stage. I don’t know if they’ll see me up on stage.”

“I’m hoping that’ll be me, eventually, a couple years down the line. ... I want to get a lot better than what I am right now. I’m not at that level yet,” Warford said, though he was quick to add, “I’m not complete garbage.”

Warford said his focus is on football first, especially since he just joined a new team and a new offensive system in March. So he hasn’t branched out too much in New Orleans yet.

But he said he has been to B.B. King’s Blues Club a bunch because he likes the band that usually plays there, and he has popped into a few “touristy places” here and there.

“And I went to a Blink 182 concert, but that doesn’t count,” Warford said with a laugh.

Warford said he loves to see the jazz music in New Orleans because “it’s just cool that such a classic style of music is still alive and well -- and doing ‘well’ is the key part.”

But, he said, “I just have a general love for music, no matter what the genre.”

The first instrument Warford played was the saxophone -- from about fourth grade until his sophomore year in high school. But he quit after some disagreements with his band instructor.

He then got hooked on the bass guitar through one of his best friends at Kentucky, Will Begley.

“I feel like there’s something really organic about live music that I enjoy. And it just adds so much more depth to the music, seeing it live. And it’s just something that I love,” said Warford, who watches the musicians’ technique like he’s dissecting a game film.

“Everything, yeah. See how they respond to each other and techniques that they use,” Warford said. “Even their equipment, I’m like, ‘Oh what’s that? I wonder what that is.’”

Warford said he definitely wants to go to Preservation Hall and check out a few other clubs, probably during this hiatus before training camp kicks off in late July. But his calendar isn’t completely open, since he’s also going on his honeymoon in Jamaica.

Warford got married shortly after he signed with the Saints. He said he and his wife are going along with another couple of newlyweds -- his close friend, Jaguars guard Patrick Omameh, and his wife.

As for football, Warford said the adjustment has gone smoothly so far. Yeah, it will take some time to learn a new offensive system, terminology and the different techniques the Saints teach their offensive linemen. But what’s new? In Detroit, he played in three different offensive systems in three years.

And the Saints’ system is familiar since one of Warford’s offensive coordinators in Detroit was Joe Lombardi, who served as New Orleans’ quarterbacks coach both before and after he was hired and fired in Detroit.

“It’s similar to what I ran a few years ago,” said Warford, who said New Orleans’ dynamic offense was another big draw for him in free agency when he signed a four-year, $34 million contract.

Warford even admitted to getting “kind of starstruck” in an offense that includes guys like Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram.

“It’s exciting to be with these guys and be on this team with all these players ... even the guys on the offensive line, there’s so much depth,” Warford said. “You get excited; you see the potential for explosive offense.”