Bob Queen, the author and Nancy Kathman: Sconnies in Lafayette.
Note: This is part of a series of posts from Andy Moore, who is in Lafayette, Louisiana, this weekend to attend the Festival International de Louisiane where he will find and book artists to perform at Madison festivals. He'll be filing updates through Sunday, April 26.
Part 1: On the plane to Lafayette
Part 2: Belly up to the buffet
The rumor was that Dave Matthews would be among hard funking Marc Broussard's sidemen Thursday night. The name could be heard as you walked through the thick crowds. Broussard addressed that when he got halfway through his set. "Dave Matthews is in South Carolina, y'all!" The rumor alone is a symbol of the kind of unscheduled magic and unannounced star fire that can happen in a place like Lafayette.
Instead of Matthews, Broussard asked Louisiana legend Roddy Romero to join him. Romero is known in LA. as the namesake of what's called the "Roddy Romero Law." Romero began playing guitar (he's primarily a piano player now) in bands when he was eight. The law prohibited minors from playing in bars at that time so Roddy plugged in, cabled out, and played his parts out back in alleys and service drives. The law was changed to allow underage musicians to perform in clubs if a guardian is present.
Romero was a hot add to Broussard's unit, but his already smoking set peaked when he invited Manitoba's Chic Gamine to the stage, a band we vowed later in the night--or I should say early this morning-to bring to La Fete de Marquette. The Juno Award winners may be filling an empty slot in this summer's La Fete.
On the other of two stages Thursday night (they should have had another going given the intense turnout) we saw Chicha Libre, a psychedelic cumbia band based in New York. The crowd embraced them but the accordian/guitar/bass/percussion groove was too backgroundy for me. Cool, but like a movie soundtrack that needed visuals to go with it, if Quentin Tarrantino and Segio Leone ever made a movie together, that is.
The main stage highlight of the night was Locos Por Juana, Grammy nominees who hail from Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Miami. As the geography would suggest, the group leans hard and fast into all manner of important contemporary music forms. Hip-hop, reggae, Latin Urban. The ska number they played close to the end of their set put the main stage audience in a frenzy. Our team leader Bob Queen booked Locos for Orton Park Festival on August 28. It'll be interesting to see what this band does to a relatively small outdoor festival environment. They're live kegs of dynamite.
I wish I could give you a crowd estimate from last night but I'm bad at that. Here's what Connie, one of four sisters (with their mom and dad) who run the Artist's Village here at the Days Inn said when I asked her if she knew how many people came last night: "I don't know exactly but honey we were holding each other up, weren't we?" Louisiana music crowds. Wow. Tiny children who dance like pros. Old people dancing with grandkids. All colors with all colors swirling and two-stepping and popping. Vendors in food tents ignoring hungry, would-be patrons with cash in hand as they dance behind the high wood counters.
After the festival ended around 11:00 p.m. we walked across town to the Blue Moon Saloon and Guest House. From the front of the Blue Moon, standing on the small residential width of Convent Street, the place looks like an old house you'd see on Gorham Street. Well, LA. architectural designs are there, too. Like a wrought iron fence around the sandy front yard and a fat, screenless front porch with swing. Around back--and that's what you do, literally walk around back on a path to the side of the home--is a half-outside-half-inside stage/dancefloor/bar area.
That's where the three-fiddle, Texas-based Quebe Sisters were performing when we arrived. The place was on fire. This is a town and this particular weekend is a time when musicians take delight in mixing and matching their line-ups. The 2nd act of the night was Feufollet, Lafayette natives and veterans of La Fete de Marquette. Feufollet accordionist/fiddler Chris Stafford played with the sisters, only instead of his button accordion, he played an old hollow-body Gibson electric. The sisters ended their set with a western swing version of "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie," three fiddles taking individual solo breaks and eventually, mercilessly, inevitably, pushing the crowd over the happy edge.
Feufollet's set was rousing in the way that can only come when a hometown band shines in the light of their home club surrounded by hot musicians from around the world. Stafford is as known for his fiddling as he is for his accordion work. While they're only in their 20s now, he and band co-founder Chris Segura have been fiddling together since they were eleven. A panorama of guests sat in with Feufollet including the bari sax and cornet players from North Carolina's Firecracker Jazz Band and Juno Award winners from Manitoba, Chic Gamine, who Bob Queen is setting our sites on to fill an open slot for this year's La Fete. Close to 1:00 this morning, the incomparable zydeco innovator Cedric Watson came out from a shift behind the tiny club's sound board and strapped on the button accordion to play with his friends.
Cedric Watson and his band, as well as Feufollet, are secured for this year's La Fete de Marquette. They'll perform at the Rue de Baldwin Street grounds on July 12.
A beer loving Wisconsinite doesn't change his ways even in the heart of Acadiana. We're spoiled to have a gazillion micro-brewed IPA choices in Madison. The only thing one can complain about is some of them have ridiculous names. I'm all foamed up about this because I forget that the mid-and-deep-southerners are neanderthals when it comes to beer drinking. Silos of Bud Light is the Festival beer of choice here in Lafayette and while drinking is encouraged for everything in Louisiana, what I wouldn't give for a cold, beaded-up bottle of Kiss the Lips IPA while bopping around the festival. Good thing I found an Abita Springs IPA, finally, at the Blue Moon.
Much bitter, I mean better.
Much hoppier. I mean happier.