The Louisiana International Music Exchange
Festival International de Louisiane
Acadiana Center for the Arts
Jefferson Street, Lafayette, Louisiana, 70501
Friday, April 29, 2011
The Louisiana International Music Exchange event on Friday afternoon is a big deal. The goal is to connect Louisiana musicians with concert and festival presenters from around the world, across the country, and right here in Louisiana.
Since this is the biggest Francophone festival in the USA, musicians like Les Freres Michot, Red Baraat, Marie de Barros, Grand Baton, and Myelle are spread amongst the Louisiana musicians at the presentation tables all the way down the main hallway of the Acadiana Center for the Arts in downtown Lafayette.
I am in luck. Janine Dugas (talking with MaryEve Aubrey, Myelle's agent), who I met last October at the Giant Omelette Celebration in Abbeville, books the entertainment for that annual event – and she’s offered me an extra ticket to this private event.
One minute inside, I spot Leroy Thomas, several members of the Pine Leaf Boys, Steve Riley, and David Greeley (names familiar to any Cajun or Zydeco dancer).
The place is humming. Musicians and their agents stand on one side of a long line of tables and promoters and presenters wind their way past on the other. Names are dropped, common musical interests explored, thirty-second elevator speeches reeled off with varying degrees of polish. Promotional CDs, publicity packets, and business cards are changing hands.
Musicians and promoters at the "Meet and Greet" session.
Many performers are young, emerging artists. For them, this must feel like a casting call. The people on both sides of the tables never know when lightning will strike. One gig might lead to a breakout performance and set a career on a trajectory dreamed about for years.
Janine, who’s worked in advertising, had her own radio program, taught dance, and founded Lafayette’s Krewe de Canaille, knows just about everybody in sight.
Over the next two hours, she introduces me to Steve Riley; Kathy Richard, who runs the Richard Sale Barn in Abbeville; Sam Broussard, awesome lead guitarist of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, Mark Falgout, owner of The Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette; organizer Mary Beth Lowry; Jon Bertrand, fiddle player with the Pine Leaf Boys; Lisa Stafford, who books the bands for the festival; and Valerie Broussard, the bi-lingual young woman who announces each of the six “Showcase” bands who play brief sets in the new building’s beautifully outfitted performance space.
Oh, and I have a new identity… Ron Bumpus, the name of Janine’s friend who was supposed to be her guest before a business emergency derailed his plans and opened the door for me.
By now, I’m ready to drop a few names myself.
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.
David Greeley with his band GumboJet, pt with Pine Leaf Boys Jon Bertrand, whose card is a guitar pick! Note pt at large's name tag... Ron Bumpus for today!
Musician Grand Baton and Steve Riley and Vagabond Swing talk with promoters
Sam Broussard, legendary guitar player with Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys; Valerie Broussard, who has her own radio show on www.KRVS.org on Thursday nights at 9 PM. Valerie, who introduced each Showcase band in the French language she was born listening to, is finishing a PhD in Francophone studies at The University of Louisiana in Lafayette.