Sunday, June 21, 2015

Loreauville, Louisiana: Clifton Chenier Club

In front-ish: Paul Wiltz, Corey Ledet, Lynn August, Lil Buck Sinegal. Clifton Chenier Club, June 2015.

Anytime I see something related to Loreauville, Louisiana, I feel a little peak of curious energy. The name "Loreauville" is associated in my brain with three things that don't necessarily make rational sense, but the brain does what it does:
  1. The word "lurid;" 
  2. Dave Robicheaux' references to the Loreauville area as an example of great wealth alongside wide and deep poverty; and
  3. The name of a Florida village in an apocalyptic classic, Alas, Babylon, called Pistolville, a marginalized community of Canary Island descendants, kept at arm's length from the Anglo community. (BTW, here is a mini-doc on Canary Island descendants in Louisiana, and here an article.)

Clifton Chenier Club, Loreauville, Louisiana.

The Clifton Chenier Club is outside Loreauville, and the owner (a nephew of Clifton Chenier) was hosting his annual Clifton Chenier Birthday event. I so love how this cavernous club is smack among sugar cane fields. There's a mammoth barbecue alongside:

Clifton Chenier Club, Loreauville, Louisiana.

Mr. Chenier greets you when you walk in:

Clifton Chenier Club, Loreauville, Louisiana.

And looks appreciatively upon all the goings-on within:

Clifton Chenier Club, Loreauville, Louisiana.

Hahahaha, this reminds me of the Fiesta de San Francisco de Paula in Tularosa, New Mexico, when the parishioners carried St. Francis out to the pavilion so he could view the dancing also:

San Francisco de Paula, Tularosa, New Mexico. 

Sadly, there weren't many people who attended the Clifton Chenier Birthday event, possibly because it was on a Saturday afternoon only, plus the admission fee? I don't know. But the music was grand, with many of the musicians having been performers for decades, and a lot of them who played with Mr. Chenier back in the day.

2015 Clifton Chenier Birthday poster. Credit: Clifton Chenier Club.

It's tempting to take some of the musicians in South Louisiana for granted - so easy to forget they travel around the globe, preaching the gospel of zydeco and Cajun / Creole music and culture.

A friend of mine who lives in Toronto had the good fortune to hear zydeco for the first time recently and she used the best word to describe the experience: "infectious."

A slide show of the Clifton Chenier Birthday below:

There were other performers at the event, but I'm practicing with a new (to me) camera, and any other photos I took were miserable.

The club interior is low-lit and cozy even though it's huge. The stage, with its backdrop of Mr. Chenier and jewel-tone purples, golds, and emeralds, glitters. An assemblage of tables and chairs that are reminiscent of church basement halls across the US.  Ample dance floor.

No diet soda, though. I ran into a similar situation at the International Rice Festival in Crowley last year - I could not find a diet soda Any.Where. ... Oh wait, there was a moment in time, early on, apparently, when the vendors had Diet Dr. Pepper. I'd as soon drink from the Bayou Teche.

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