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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lafayette: Scenes from Festivals de Acadiens et Creoles, #3


Jamming at the Festivals Acadiens et Creoles 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana.


Jams are an important part of sustaining the regional culture and, frankly, part of the tourist market. People come from all over the world to jam with local musicians. I say local musicians, but these same musicians have carried the musical message of South Louisiana to all points of the globe, creating new fans, who then make pilgrimages here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Lafayette: Scenes from Festivals de Acadiens et Creoles, #2


Red accordion and Brazos Huval, Steve Riley and Mamou Playboys, Festivals Acadiens et Creoles 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana.


To show what a cliched small world it is, Brazos Huval featured prominently in this story about Ned the Dog back here, some three years ago, along with its follow-up here.  

Based on my observations this year in Louisiana, I think Brazos plays an important role in bringing up young musicians to the traditional music of the region. He is a member in a number of bands, teaches music, and makes sure his students participate in jam venues.   




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lafayette: Scenes from Festivals de Acadiens et Creoles, #1


Rubboards, Festivals de Acadiens et Creoles 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana.


Rubboards, Festivals de Acadiens et Creoles 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana.

Rubboards, Festivals de Acadiens et Creoles 2014, Lafayette, Louisiana.







Thursday, October 9, 2014

Louisiana: Carencro: Mercredi


In the spring and fall, the town of Carencro produces Mercredi in Pelican Park, a free music concert. Generally, the genres alternate among cajun, zydeco, swamp pop, and um, I guess kind of a golden-oldies cover-party type.

The scene below is from the October 8, 2014, performance, graced by a pretty sunset and the astral glow of baseball field lights. Later, the full moon shined its blessing upon the mortal doings. 


Mercredi, Pelican Park, Carencro, Louisiana.





Saturday, October 4, 2014

Opelousas: Market and Music: A Pretty Girl

There are a number of reasons why the regularity of my blog posts has faltered, and one of them is that even though I may have gone to a kick-ass musical event, there's only so much one can say about music events. Ditto for photos of musicians. Even the sublime becomes mundane with too much talk about it.

So it is that instead of a photo or description of the eminently entertaining Lil Kenny and the Heartbreakers at the October 3rd Market and Music event in Opelousas, I present to you a picture of a pretty girl at that event, Lorena.


Lorena, Opelousas, Louisiana.


I saw Lorena and did a double-take - something about her reminded me of a beautiful Vermeer painting. Lorena makes me smile just to look at her.

So thanks to Lorena and her mother - a fellow life adventuress, as I subsequently learned - for permission to share this photo.







Saturday, September 27, 2014

Louisiana: What They Do in North Louisiana For Fun


Heretofore, my primary cultural informant on northern Louisianans has been Dave Robicheaux, and he's a fictional character. Dave doesn't think much of northern Louisianans.

An actual North Louisianan recently offered me some information about his homeland.

While it may be true that not much drinkin,' dancin,' music-makin' or boudin-eatin' may be going on (and y'all know these are sure-fire fun), let it not be said that North Louisianans don't know how to have a good time.

Three Things North Louisianans Like to Do for Fun: 

1. Poke a wasp nest with a stick and then run like H- E - Double Hockey Sticks

This was a favorite, childhood past-time of my informant. As noted above, my informant is of the male persuasion, information that is probably redundant considering the nature of the activity.


2. Tie a string to a june bug's leg and fly him like a kite.

When the same North Louisianan told me that when he was a child, he and his friends would tie a string around a june bug's leg and walk behind it while it flew, it sounded fantastical, but, damn, it's true! Not just in North Louisiana, but elsewhere. 

Below is a story about this very thing from a North Carolinian. The story is called June Bugs, a page from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story, administered by the library of the same name.  I wouldn't normally post an entire story from another source, but this well-told story seems to be on an archive page, and I'd hate for it to be lost in the ethernet. Wish I knew the author's name.
I REMEMBER THE FUN we had during June bug time. These big green bugs appeared from nowhere just about the season that our peaches got ripe.

We would get up early in the morning to hunt June bugs. The only equipment needed was a jar to put them in and string to tie on their legs. We had to be very particular about the kind of string we used because a piece that was too heavy would cut down on their ability to "june," and a piece that was too fine and sharp would cut off their hind legs.

An overripe peach was an excellent place to find June bugs since they like to eat soft fruit. Whenever we spied a cluster of them on a peach, we crept up on them as quietly as a cat stalks a mouse. The poor unsuspecting bugs would be poised with their heads down in the fruit and their fat green bodies sticking up, enjoying a luscious meal when our hands would close over them like a vise. They scrambled madly in our hands. Sometimes the tickling of their tiny feet was too much, and we’d have to let go. Usually, we held on until one or two were deposited in the jar.

After a good number were caught, we selected a big strong-looking bug and tied a string on his hind leg. Then we were ready for him to "june." When we threw him out in the air he would fly frantically in an arc making a buzzing sound. Sometimes one would be stubborn and wouldn’t begin to fly quickly enough to suit us, so we would give him a few hard swings around in the air to stir him up and start him buzzing.

We always evaluated each bug’s ability to "june" because some performed much better than others. As they were put through the selection process, the strings with the best "juners" were tied to a banister or a bush while the auditions continued. Quite frequently, all of the tethered ones would decide to start buzzing and flying around at the same time. This created quite a commotion and became a serious problem.

"Oh!" we screamed as we saw what was happening and then made a dive for them, but we were often too slow. The strings would get tangled in a hopeless mass as the bugs buzzed in and out around each others before we could separate them. In desperation, we would cut them loose and let them fly away, strings dangling behind them like kite tails. Sometimes, the poor things would get caught on a limb or a bush and hang there buzzing madly. If they were not too high up in a tree, we would try to liberate them, but their fate was often to provide a bird with a delectable dinner.

I mustn’t forget the awful stink that accompanied hunting for June bugs. They had a sickening odor that made vigorous hand washing necessary before the smell could be eradicated.

We usually emptied our jar of bugs in the evening, but each morning during June bug time, we would again be on the hunt to replenish the jars with big green bugs.

3. Immigrate to South Louisiana

  







Friday, September 26, 2014

Louisiana: New Iberia: The White Sugar Festival

I was scoping the horizon for things to do this weekend and found the Sugar Cane Festival in New Iberia. Woohoo! Ever since I arrived in South Louisiana last November, I'd wanted to be sure and go to this festival.

Excited, I checked out the bands that were to perform.

Oh. That's odd. Most often, South Louisiana festivals feature a mix of regional music: Cajun or Creole, zydeco, swamp pop, and the occasional oldies cover band. Even venues that highlight only one band at a time tend to rotate the genres.

I don't subscribe to the idea of "black music" or "white music." There's no such thing. (As a friend from another country once said, "people confuse culture with color.") Nevertheless, as I looked at the music line-up for the Sugar Cane Festival, I noticed it was firmly homogenous.

But you decide for yourself:
  • Taken Back Yesterday. Rock 'n roll cover band. 
  • Spank the Monkey. Rock 'n roll.
  • Louisiana Red. Cover band - many genres.
  • Wayne Toups. "Zydecajun."
  • Bad Boys. "Variety and dance band"
  • The Vermilion. unknown.
  • Debbie Deb.
  • Chee Whiz. "Kiss" cover band.

I can't find images for the Bad Boys or The Vermilion. I don't see the members of Wayne Toups' band. Of the bands where I can see their members, I see one black musician.

The city of New Iberia is 53% white and 42% black. Louisiana at large is 63% white and 32% black.

I perceived an exclusionary subtext in the musical line-up.

Is perception reality? No, of course not. But as they say, "perception is everything." And as I dug deeper to see if I was jumping too early to conclusions, I discovered there is a history of bad feelings surrounding this festival in the New Iberia community. 

Based on my perceptions, I made a decision not to attend this festival.