Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cajun Weekend

It's the end of May, 2017, Memorial Day weekend and all that. There's a big festival in Shreveport, "Mudbug Madness," which is a celebration of Crawfish (Mudbug) eating and Cajun music dancing. We chose to go south a couple of hundred miles and sample Cajun culture at the core: Eunice and Big Mamou.

We reserved one of the cabins at the Cajun Campground just a few miles east of Eunice. Chris and Elaine Webb were joining us for the weekend, though they stayed at the Motel just up the road, L'Acadie. On the Friday evening of our arrival we determined to have a musical jam at the campground. Also we wanted to eat some stuff we'd brought with us, but we forgot to bring pots and pans and the campground cabin did have any. However, it didn't have a cookstove, either, so even if we had . . .
Like city slickers with no clue, we asked around and we received a grill, some charcoal and some matches; Chris and Elaine provided hamburgers with all the fixin's, Then we jammed together and gathered an appreciative crowd of Abbeville/Kaplan Cajuns.
Elaine (R) at Mark Savoy's. 

Saturday is a Big Day for Cajun culture and we started off at Mark Savoy's Music Store, just a mile or so away from the campground. Elaine had her fiddle but Chris shied away from taking his accordion to the jam. He felt like he might get it confiscated for impersonation. He played guitar. I listened, played a little ti-fer, and Marsha listened and played with Abby the Cajun chihuahua. Coz Fontenot was sitting in front of me. He told the sad tale of impending foot amputation. He looked much older but is in his mid-60's.

After an hour or so we gathered ourselves together and headed for Fred's in Mamou, the other face of Cajun culture. Savoy's is sober, serious, dignified; Fred's is ebullient and intemperate, There are rednecks and motorcycle maniacs as well as international party animals. The tiny "lounge" opens once a week, on a Saturday morning from 8 am to 1 pm, and during that window of opportunity it hosts a live band and radio show. This has been going on since 1946. Fred Tate, the originator, is long gone, and Sweet Sue was not in evidence.
Years ago (1988?) we had organized the Natchitoches Folk Festival and recreated Fred's Lounge as part of the scene. Sweet Sue was gracious enough to appear at our festival though it was Saturday morning and the real Fred's Lounge was a hundred miles away to the South. We have had a special relationship with Fred's for a long time.
Standing around outside, Marsha noticed this long-haired critter and called him out. It was Bobby Michot who we originally met in France near Pruniers, and we had a happy conversation with him. He's back and forth between Louisiana and his place in France, but we've sworn to keep in touch,
Continuing our weekend we went to Eunice to eat (I had the Cajun Eggplant: eggplant julienne deep fried with an etouffe of crawfish) and then we went for naps and the Liberty Theater show with a band called La Recolte. Oddly, they had played at Mudbug Madness on the Thursday night.

We wrapped up our day at the Campground dance with a country band. The crowd at the Liberty was sadly sparse, the dancers aged (or part of a family of idiots), but nobody objected to Abby coming in. Abby had a great weekend, got much more socialized and easy with strangers. Above: Marsha and  Abby on the grass beside Fred's Lounge in Mamou.

Sunday morning we got up and drove home, stopping at Conna's in Natchitoches on the way. She loaded us down with gifts of iron, concrete and terra cotta for our garden. We now have a substantial birdbath. Wild weather in the evening: power out from 7 to 9 pm.

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