Wish I'd taken pics at the festivals, but just imagine us playing 3 shows on Merlefest on Friday, thus building up 3 layers of sweat (we had a great time, but too short!), and then jumping in the Brown Clown for 16 hours of close personal Wilders time. We had just enough time to roll in to Lafayette, check in to the hotel, nap for an hour, SHOWER, and then run to the Festival International to play our first set. That set was delayed by rain... we waited on stage (one of those huge sound stages they move in for an event, which had a movable cover, moved down to keep the rain from coming in. A few stauch fans waited out the storm under rain parkas and battered umbrellas. Then the staff said, "okay, you guys can play now", so that's what we did. And a few hundred Louisianans showed up! They must have been hiding under various shelters downtown.
Thank goodness for the tough spirits of these folks! I really believe if we'd done the show almost any other place, we would have only had a few waterlogged fans. In Louisiana, the rain didn't stop these folks from having a good time.
The next day was a weather opposite. Sunny, warm (no, it actually got hot), and festive. We started the day at a funky place near the fest, where our friends Curt & Cloud (who live in Portland, but used to live in Asheville for a while), and Lindsey and Tim (who live in Asheville) had a brunch-time gig. They played killer old time fiddle tunes and some songs.
At the fest itself, we played a different stage, following a Dewey Balfa tribute set that featured our friend, hero, and producer Dirk Powell, and some of his Balfa Toujours bandmates, and other cajun musicians of the highest order. Next you can imagine Dirk joining us on stage during our set, for some fine fiddling (on Jenny on the Railroad, of course!) and fierce accordion-ing (can you say Honky Tonk Habit? Not like Dirk can!)... the crowd was more than wild that day and we all felt no question that the trials of our overnight trip were more than worth it.
Our friends The Red Stick Ramblers were part of an after-fest party at the Blue Moon Saloon (for you history buffs, that was the location of my birthday show in 2005, where we played following our week of recording at Dirk's)... it was a huge party and man, those Ramblers are awesome. I was sad that we missed the set from the Pine Leaf Boys, though, who are part of this huge revival of cajun & creole music taking place in Lafayette. It's one of the most vibrant music scenes I've ever witnessed in our travels. Hey, check out these bands:
Red Stick Ramblers
Don't be fooled by their seeming apathetic or angry looks!
Pine Leaf Boys
Don't be fooled by their seeming innocent or happy looks!
I only wish we'd been there longer... if it weren't for the extreme heat/humidity of the place, I could almost say I'd want to live down there. A place can be beautiful, and this one is, but it's also the people that make the place, and they really are beautiful.
Speaking of beautiful, here are some pics of our day at the swamp (The Atchafalaya Basin, to be specific, but don't ask me more because I don't remember)... this was Monday after the festival, and it was a rare day of respite for us. Us Wilders rarely rest!
Is this what you thought a swamp looked like?
Our most excellent and generous tour guide, D.D. Fluke
There are a lot of folks living right by, or on, the swamp
Cypress trees and swamp grass
D.D. says the gators won't bother you, but I'm still not going swimming here!
Perhaps the best part of the swamp tour was that after a while, I got to drive the boat! Yes, I am an excellent driver! Thanks to my Dad, I also have excellent sea legs. Helms-a-lee!