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!