Monday, April 28, 2014

Fiddling my life away — and that’s OK

            Southerners have a love affair with the fiddle that hails back, no doubt, to the population’s origins in the British Isles. The majority of the original free settlers were of Scotch-Irish descent so naturally much of our roots music includes a heavy dose of fiddle.
            My personal background includes a Southern migration from Georgia to New Orleans on my mother’s side but also Creole on my father’s side, a mixture of French, Spanish, German and Irish immigrants who arrived in Louisiana to create a new home for themselves, mixed with Cajun. So I’m especially partial to the fiddle, loving American roots music as well as Cajun and zydeco.
            Not that this is weird, mind you, but I do tend to veer to the fiddle performances when I attend music festivals.
            Take Festival International de Louisiane, for instance, the largest free Francophone festival in North America and one of the greatest weekends to be had in America. There are several stages scattered throughout downtown Lafayette, Louisiana, the heart of Cajun and Creole Country, plus arts and crafts, performances, great food, lectures and so much more happening the last weekend in April. And it’s all free!
            This past weekend I was fortunate enough to hear Suroit perform from the Madeleine Isles of the Canadian Maritime Provinces, with Felix Leblanc dancing a jig sitting down while pounding out his Acadian fiddle. The International Fiddle Summit — sponsored by Festivals Acadiens et Creole that happens in October in Lafayette, also free — blended the remarkable talents of, from left below, Leblanc, David Greeley, Joel Savoy, Chad Justice, Amelia Powell and Dirk Powell. Dominique Dupuis of New Brunswick, who I saw perform as a child at Festival International in 1999, returned to stir up the crowd with a passionate performance on her own as well as accompanying the legendary Zachary Richard on opening night.
            It’s now Monday after Festival and I have lots of company in Lafayette today experiencing Festival withdrawal. But I also have my latest CD of Suroit to keep me company. Time to listen to Leblanc’s beautiful lilting “Rosalie,” written to his daughter.
International Fiddle Summit


  1. I was blown away by Dominique Dupuis. I bought her CD and have been listening ever since. I'm wondering what kind of writing I can get from my students while playing it.

  2. Good idea! I'll bet the kids would love it.
    I've discovered so many wonderful bands at Festival.