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 I: On the plane to Lafayette
I waited all winter to come to Lafayette and sit outside on an 80 degree day. So, great. It's damn near 80 degrees in Madison. Okay then. Good for y'all. But I had a better lunch than you. Hands down.
Pierre, one of 1,500 festival volunteers, picked me up at the Lafayette Airport which is about half the size of Madison's. He was born in Sweden. He said he asked his mother why she gave him a French name. She didn't know. He moved here from the Texas oil fields in 1979. "And the rest is history," he laughed.
There's a great vibe at the Days Inn where artists from around the world are arriving and stampeding back and forth across the hot blacktop, in and out of vans with gear. A trio from the Ivory Coast of Africa stripped down to freaky looking Speedos and are now pushing each other around in the chlorinated cool water of the dinky motel pool.
It's fun to see Lafayette friends and familiar faces. A volunteer named Bobby snuck up behind me as I checked in and clapped the back of my head. Pins--festival pins that is--the kind people are crazy about collecting down here and trading and showing off, festoon Bobby's floppy army fatigue hat.
The festival actually got under way Wednesday night but with only one stage and two acts (there will be 500 artists from 15 countries on 6 stages in the coming days). The Pine Leaf Boys and one of Acadia's most cherished zydeco bands, Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band, performed. Bobby and Pierre said it was a record crowd for opening night. They're in high spirits for what that might mean for the body of the weekend.
Here at the "Artists' Village," the free buffet table in the Days Inn lobby is a half-block long. I got here just after 12:00 noon so I wasted no time to avail myself. I'm married to a vegetarian and have a son at home who's one, too. I love them dearly but I love cajun food because it revolves around eating so many different kinds of animals. Delicious, lovingly prepared critters with paws, fins, hoofs, wings, gills, lips, pinchers, you name it.
I enjoyed a lunch of poultry, shellfish, and pig from two very different parts of the animal. Around here calling it "pork" is missing the opportunity to be specific in the kitchen.
In a couple hours we'll take the shuttle downtown to the Festival. It's just like Summerfest only with good music and good food. Heaps of great acts tonight under clear skies. Locos Por Juana (Columbia/Venezuela) play. I'm looking forward to Marc Broussard (Louisiana soul). After the Festival this evening we're going to the cajun equivalent of a honky tonk, Lafayette's reknown Blue Moon Tavern. Hometown Lafayette favorites Feufollet play there tonight (who we booked for the 2007 La Fete de Marquette from this festival). The Blue Moon is really just a house with a wood deck that spills out into the backyard. It should be hopping.
If you're considering going out for music in Madison tonight I'd check out "the stab wound in the fabric of country music," Wayne Hancock show at the Crystal. His new record, "Viper of Melody," is a glorious juke junkyard. Madison's divine country diva Kristy Larson and her Trio open the bill.