When they say “Let the good times roll” in Southwest Louisiana, they aren’t kidding! The music, food, dancing, storytelling and good-natured joking around are all distinctive and infectious. I felt fortunate to spend several days in Cajun Country, where I enjoyed generosity and hospitality at every turn. No wonder so many people are in love with this place!
My first stop on Wednesday, October 17, was KRVS radio on the campus of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. I was interviewed by Judith Merriweather about the Augusta workshops and about my tour. Virtually all of the people I know in Louisiana are folks I have met through Augusta, which led directly to my visit to Louisiana.
From Lafayette I drove a few miles to Breaux Bridge, where I played at Cafe des Amis – an excellent restaurant that features live music. It was good to play, though I was a bit tired from my long drive. People danced, however, which helped perk me up!
On Thursday I rested and got caught up on laundry and other sundry before going into town and hearing a set by my friend Yvette Landry and steel player Richard Como. They played at a little pizza restaurant in Breaux Bridge and sounded excellent together – Yvette is a fine, fine singer, and Richard is off the charts with his steel playing. He played a solo on “Misery Loves Company” that was some of the best I’ve heard. I sang a few as well, including my song “Yvette, the Crawfish Queen.” I was especially pleased to sing it on this occasion because Yvette’s mother, who is mentioned in the song, was there in the audience that night. It was fun meeting her. After the gig, Yvette played me some rough mixes from her new CD. It sounds wonderful! Look out, world, here she comes!!
Friday I played at McGee’s Landing. Talk about a colorful place! The Landing is way out in the country, across the levee, on the edge of a huge swamp. I was really in the bayou now!I loved it! My music that night was in the bar, and several friends came out to hear me. I felt more rested and energetic than I had on Wednesday evening. I think it went well.
Saturday was the most memorable day for me in Louisiana. Jim Phillips and I drove out early to Mamou and the famous Fred’s Lounge. For 50 years, they have featured live Cajun music on Saturday mornings, from 9:15 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. What a scene!From Fred’s, Jim and I went to the weekly jam session at Mark Savoy’s music store, a gathering of very traditional musicians, mostly older, French-speaking (and singing!) individuals. There were two or three accordions, four or five fiddles, four or five acoustic guitars, and a woman playing the steel guitar. I felt honored to be welcomed to join in on guitar. Some of the people brought homemade sausage, called boudin. It was tasty!
Here is a shot of Jim after the jam. Following a short rest, Jim and I drove to Eunice for the show at the Liberty Theater on Saturday evening. The show is called “Rendez-vous des Cajuns,” and it features mainly very traditional Cajun bands from the area. The band that night was Cheryl Cormier (“The Queen of the Cajun Accordion”) and Cajun Country. I played about a half-hour in the middle. I was flattered to be so well accepted by this obviously educated, local and highly focused audience.
The show was broadcast on the radio. I am impressed with the pivotal role that radio – often live radio – plays in promoting the local French music in this part of Louisiana! I was able to listen to great Cajun and Zydeco music whenever I was in the car (which was a lot!). After the show at the Liberty Theater, I went out for more Cajun food and more Cajun music. A very Acadian day!
Sunday I played a brunch in Lafayette at a nice restaurant called the Blue Dog Cafe. It was fun, if a bit of a marathon – I played for three hours with only one 20-minute break. Whew!