Festivals Acadiens et Creoles has a lot of balls in the air as the 2019 version of the festival honors the role of women in Cajun and Creole music, hosts a Louisiana Music Hall of Fame induction, introduces a tent fee and an ice chest ban, and, takes a look at the evolutions of four bands.
All of this plays out Friday-Sunday in Girard Park with Cajun, Creole, zydeco and swamp pop music in the air, tasty local dishes and beverages waiting to be enjoyed, and unique arts and crafts to adorn your home.
The festival gets going Friday evening at Scène Ma Louisiane with Bonsoir, Catin and special guests, as well as Jeffery Broussard from his Zydeco Force days to the current Creole Cowboys.
However, the festivals’ theme will be explored all day Friday in a free symposium, “Les femmes et les filles: Female Perspectives in Cajun and Creole Culture,” 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the A. Hays Town Building at the Hilliard University Art Museum, 710 E. St. Mary Boulevard.
With women in the spotlight, other female-fronted bands, including Magnolia Sisters, Feufollet, Babineaux Sisters, T'Monde, The Daiquiri Queens, Soul Creole, Sweet Crude and Yvette Landry & the Jukes are set to perform.
“We would be remiss not to also mention the women who have preserved our venerable ballad traditions by singing for their families and friends at home,” said Barry Jean Ancelet, festival board president, with a nod to Alma Barthélémy, Lula Landry, Inez Catalon, Odile Falcon, Agnes Bourque and Marie Pellerin.
“And then, there are also women who helped to document and preserve our musical and cultural heritage, like Irene Whitfield, Corinne Saucier, Catherine Blanchet, Marce Lacouture and Kristi Guillory,” Ancelet said. “This year, we are celebrating all of these women, real and fictional, and their contributions to our musical history both on and off the stage.”
And the celebration couldn’t come at a better time for Yvette Landry, who, along with being inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame Saturday during her set, has a book and album release going on, too.
“It’s crazy,” Landry said. “There’s so much going on, it’s so hard to wrap my head around. Everything just sort of happened at once. It was not intended to, but it just all came together this week.”
Landry’s book “A Conversation with the Godfather of Swamp Pop, Warren 'Storm' Schexnider,” published by UL Press has a release date of Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 at the Lafayette Rock N Bowl, and the vinyl/CD, “Taking the World by Storm, by Storm,” has an official Dec. 13 drop date.
However, pre-release copies of the CD and book for “our local people here, because we can’t wait” will be available at the festival.
And then there’s Landry’s induction into the hall of fame (Saturday, 1 p.m., Salle de Danse), that came “totally out of the blue,” she said.
When Mike Sheperd, LMHOF executive director, contacted Landry nearly two months ago, she thought it was about the book and CD on Storm.
“He’s telling me who he is and what he does,” said Landry. “And he’d been talking about 30 minutes and I needed to get an appointment and so I said, ‘Mike, it’s really great talking to you. Is there anything I can help you with?’”
Landry had pen and paper in hand for an address to send the Storm items “and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, the reason why I’m calling. We’re going to be inducting you into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Can you send me a picture?' "
“I wasn’t expecting it. I mean, I’m still not expecting it,” Landry said. “I’m still scratching my head, like, ‘how did that happen?’ ”
Landry and Storm will be at the UL Press Kiosque des Auteurs at 3 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Tent and ice chests
Pat Mould, vice president of programming and development, said after seeing beverage sales decline for several years in a row, the festival plans to enforce the ice chest policy, which are predominately found under the tents in the perimeter.
Also, a new Village des Tentes program wants owners of said tents to sign up to become a Festival Friend (starting at $30) that will serve as registration prior to set-up which begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“I’m going to be walking around checking tents personally and encouraging people who haven’t signed up to sign up,” said Mould, regarding the tents.
Regarding the ice chest, no need to fear the ice chest patrol.
“We’re going to be real flexible this first year," Mould said. "We know this is a drastic change from the way we’ve been operating. We’re going to entrust people to just do the right thing.
“We’re not going to be running anybody out of the park, or taking their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” he said. “Again, it’s about awareness, man. We’re just trying to make people more aware that this festival is funded off the back of beverage and food sales.”
Mould said while the festival is a free event, it does cost to put on, and a bulk of the revenue comes from food and beverage sales.
“So, every time somebody drinks a beer that they don’t buy from us, it’s just one less opportunity for us to generate revenue to put back into the festival,” he said. “We’ve been struggling for years, literally, almost a decade, what to do about it. It kept getting more and more prevalent.”
You say you want an evolution
The evolution of Cajun and Creole musicians will be explored at the festival, including previous incarnations of some of the bands.
Jeffery Broussard and Creole Cowboys take a look at their Zydeco Force roots Friday evening. On Saturday at 5 p.m., Jo-El Sonnier celebrates his 60th anniversary in music, followed by Horace Trahan and the Ossun Express taking a look back. Both sets are on Scène Ma Louisiane.
On Sunday, Feufollet, which has featured a female singer since its origins 20 years ago, is expected to bring back some special guests at their 4:45 p.m. gig on Scène Ma Louisiane. Feufollet just released “Prends Courage,” a commemoration of two decades of music.
For more information, visit festivalsacadiens.com.