January 20, 2008

Cajun Music Weekend!

While Kim was enjoying the music of Hawaii, I decided that I'd pay some old friends a visit in the heart of Cajun country...Lafayette, Louisiana. First stop was the Martin Accordion shop, where Junior Martin works his magic, producing some of the finest Cajun instruments in the world. http://martinaccordions.com/brochr.htm

As always, the visit was delightful, catching up on old times, and getting to here a little "steel" playing when Joe Rogers surprised us and dropped by!

I couldn't miss the regular Saturday morning jam at Mark Savoy's Music Shop in Eunice. The rainey & cold weather was cause for a late start, but that made the hot, fresh boudin & cracklin's taste all the better. http://www.lsue.edu/acadgate/music/jam2.htm

The group was cranking out the tunes by 10, with Mark taking time to join in with a little piano playing and lots of Cajun humor!

A curious visitor came in from Ohio, opened a huge instrument case, and lifted out a large "German style" key accordion. His fills, trills and interesting leads really added to the jam, and seemed to drive the music a bit harder. Another Cajun player came in late wearing his "black Cajun reboks" straight from helping slaughter a hog for a "couchant de lait" (more cracklin & boudin coming!).

The session ended right at noon, just in time for me to make the short drive over to Fred's in Mamou! This establishment has been a long time favorite, I remember going there in college days. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADkl2TohHTg

Randy Vidrine and the Lafayette Rythm Devil's were playing. They were quite surprised to see me walk in, having been since May when they played at our wedding. I caught the last set, and they were really cookin' up some great music. Needless to say, the Mardi Gras spirit is already running high at Fred's!

more history & info at http://jvp.smugmug.com/gallery/1040867#48308103

Saturday night was spent at Hank's near Bosco, LA (don't ask me how to find it, it took me quite a while!), where Junior Martin's grandson, Joel was playing. The place was packed with a mixed crowd (young & older), dance floor hopping, and a few beers served!

What a surprse and a treat! These young folks were awesome! And the music, a nice mix of upbeat Cajun, early rock, swamp pop and , yes, even some deep-voiced country tunes!

Each of the four did an excellent job, and seemed to have a super drive & togetherness, unusual for only playing together as a group a few times.

Joel pulled out his big "key" accordion on most of the tunes, adding some outstanding horn parts and skillful impromptu solos on every song. Teamed up with the awesome guitar'smanship of Danny Collet, the two kept the crowd cranked & dancing on every offering.... oh and the bonus...they ALL sing, and do a great job at it. Joel's young, high -pitched voice resonated on the Cajun tunes while Danny's alto is ideally suited for rock & swamp, and of course that deep Haggard-like voice of the rhythm guitar player stole the show on the country tunes!

Joel's girlfriend, Samantha, & I sat back and were entertained the whole evening.
What a great night! Thanks Joel....

And NO TRIP to hear Cajun music would be complete without catching Geno Delafose and his French Rockin' Boogie Zydeco band at Angelle's Whiskey River on a Sunday afternoon. Yep, Angelle's is in the heart of the Atchafalaya swamp in Henderson. Sitting on the unprotected side of the levee, it's hard to imagine that's it withstood all the major storms & floods, not to mention the constant pounding of feet every Sunday on it's wooden dance floor, elevated by pilings at the water's edge. http://www.angelleswhiskeyriver.com/ http://www.ritmoartists.com/Geno/delafose.htm

Geno passed through the crowd shortly before playing, welcoming Nathan & Allison to their first dance at Whiskey River. He was dressed to the nines, as usual, when he took the stand as the first awesome wail lept from that small box crushed by his strong hands. It's amazing that these instuments withstand the punishment of the Zydeco players and produce such a beautiful sound!
Within seconds the dancefloor was alive with gyrating bodies, oddly enough one couple out there looked just like Allison & I..... (Actually it was us showing the other couples out there a few new steps!)

And, no Zydeco band would be complete without the washboard with it's driving percussion unique to this music. By about 6PM the place was packed, floor jumping to the beat of the music...young & old, black & white, city slickers, college kids & country farmers.....all having a great time... WELCOME to LOUISIANA!

January 19, 2008

Old Lahiana Luau

There isn't much to say. It was a great evening. Good Hawaiian food and great entertainment. Great for our last night on the island. Aloha!

January 17, 2008

The road to Hana...

Please excuse the way the pictures are in this post. For some reason Blogger is not allowing me to move them anywhere so I will just post as is...

This was my most favorite day of this trip so far. This is how I thought Maui would look. Temptation Tours luxury van wisked 7 of us down the road. Buzz the tour guide filled our heads with history and knowledge of the area. WHEN I come back to Maui, I will spend more time here.

This side of the island is totally different from the side we're staying on. This side received hundreds of inches more of rain per year. It is filled with invasive plant species and invasive mammals and birds - mongoose, junglefowl, philodendron.

This side of the island also houses the rich and the famous. Residing, owning property or have resided here are: Jim Nabors, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristoferson, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor and Oprah.

Sailing to Lanai

We boarded the Trilogy VI bound for the island of Lanai, within sight of Lahaina. The seas were much calmer than our whale watch a few days earlier. Within a few minutes several whales were in view giving us a better show than on our whale watch cruise.

We watched a baby, probably only a few days old rolling and playing in the water. The mother stays below the baby ensuring that it would be able to make it to the suface to breathe every few minutes.

Nearing the island of Lanai, we passed several steep cliff faces in the lava.

We landed in the only harbor/settlement on the island. Lanai is also known as the Pineapple Island because of its past as an island-wide pineapple plantation. The island is privately owned. When the labor costs for growing pineapples was deemed to be cheaper elsewhere in the world, the pineapple fields were given up in favor of 2 world class resorts. All the labor that worked in the fields now works in the resorts.

We were given a short tour through the habited part of the island and then given some free time on beach to either snorkel, hike, explore tide pools or lay on the beach.

After a wonderful dinner on a pavilion, we headed back out into the Pacific for our ride home. This time within a few minutes we ran into a pod of Hawaiian dolphins. The swam in front of the boat for quite a time before they headed out to sea.

Before the sun set, we were treated to a short sail into the wind. What a beautiful day this was!

January 15, 2008

Rainforest/waterfall hike

While everyone else in the group went shopping today, I took a hike into the mountains on West Maui. I didn't exactly get to hike in the area I would have liked to. I researched places on the internet that lead hikes on the island. I was hoping to hike near Haleakela National Park but no one had hikes going out this week. Evidently this is the slow season for tourists.

I met up with the Hawaiian Hiking Company at a commuter parking lot in the middle of Hawaii. I met the other people in our group - four women from Denver, CO. It was a group of 3 sisters and their adopted aunt. We drove to the lee side of the western part of Maui. We were going to hike on some private land, not open to the general public. It was part of a Boy Scout camp that was only used by the Boy Scouts for part of the year.

We were given special shoes made in Japan that were specifically made so that they didn't slip on wet rocks. They had a felt like bottom and split toes. Our guide Rich said that they called them Ninja Turtle shoes. I decided not to wear mine because I didn't like the way they rubbed my big toe. I brought them with me to use if I decided to wade in the pool beneath the waterfall.

We hike up the mountain back and forth across the stream many times towards a bamboo forest. Rich said that the stream was lower than he had seen it in a long time. The area was known for flash floods. Within 10 minutes of it raining the whole area could turn into a torrent. He said that 3 to 4 times a year they had to have a helicopter get them out of the valley because they would get trapped due to the rising water.

We reached a bamboo forest. Rich explained that bamboo can grow from 1 - 4 feet a day. He said that it wouldn't take long for bamboo to take over all other growth. He also explained about other invasive plant species that were taking over native species.

After reaching the bamboo forest and taking picture of the "bamboo jail", we turned around and headed back to where we started. We then walked to another area and headed down a valley towards the waterfall. We walked beside another stream with pools and small waterfalls.

We finally reached a large banyon tree, took more pictures and headed down a steep bank to the bottom of a large waterfall. The other girls in the group hadn't done much hiking and were scared to scale down to the bottom. They cheered each other on and felt very proud of themselves that they were able to do it.

We ate a lunch of sandwiches and locally grown tropical fruit. Rich put part of his sandwich in a net and told us to keep an eye on it. Within about 5 minutes, jumbo sized prawns came crawling out of nowhere and started munching on the bread.

We were given the opportunity to swim beneath the waterfall but because the temps were cool (low 70s) and the water itself was cool no one took advantage of the opportunity. We headed back over a high ridge back to the van.

It wasn't the most exciting hike I've ever been on but it gave me the opportunity to see what the Hawaiian countryside looks like. I learned about some of the plant species and the wildlife. I did not see a single bird on the whole hike but did hear one singing in the treetops.

The day ended with one of the more colorful sunsets we've had so far. Tomorrow - sailing to Lanai.