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Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Quest

My Parrain, My Daddy, My Mamma, & My Nanny (on accordian)


Currently, I am 46.3 years old.

For the greater part of my adulthood (roughly 30 years), I have been searching for a song.

As I have reminised here frequently, when I was growing up in my idyllic small, Cajun town, every weekend was a celebration of being alive. Even as a young girl, I looked forward to my parents’ parties. Everyone was happy. There was great food. There were other kids MY age. And, there was MUSIC.

My mother’s cousin was a fabulous clarinet player, a la Benny Goodman, and I remember him frequently entertaining us along side of my Godmother, who was an accomplished musician. However, her REAL talent was that she did it all by ear. Guitar, piano and accordian…and all she had to do was hear a song once and she could replicate it perfectly.

Many a night, I sat in awe watching her play and sing, modulating with my mother in perfect-pitched harmony. Now, the men always joined in toward the end of the night and they were ok, most of the time. But, every blue moon, my Parrain (Godfather), who was also my accomplished musician Nanny’s (Godmother)
husband would treat us to “their” song. Beautiful harmony generally resulted and I saw what love could be…what I wanted it to be.

I sought that song for a very LONG time. They never could remember who, exactly, sang it. For their 50th Wedding Anniversary a few years ago, I tried dilligently to find it based on my memory of the melody and lyrics, but to no avail.

I am a researcher…on many levels…and I take pride in being able to find something, so I never gave up. Tonight I tried a new theory and I found it! HELL YES!! Finally. And, it was oh so sweet listening to it for the first time with the familiar refrain resonating in my brain. Amen. Finally. Strike one off the bucket list.

So, ladies and gentleman, kats & kittens, with no further adieu I bring you one of THE best songs ever written and that I KNOW you’ve never heard. From one Mr. Johnny Ace, Saving My Love For You

(click on “Watch on YouTube”)

And, love was just as I thought it would/should be.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2011 in family, harmony, Influences, Louisiana, love

 

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Jazz Fest 2011 - Jimmy Buffett by Gordon Robinette

So, this week the came the official and announcement of the 2011 Jazz Fest poster. The poster is a highly sought after commodity for many music consessieurs and collectors. Both the subjects and the artists vary through the years since the poster advertising the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1975. The great Louis Prima was immortalized by the great Tony Bennett last year — a true collectors’ item on several levels.

Louis Prima 2010 - Tony Bennett

Probably the most identifiable and beloved Jazz Fest posters were done by James Michalopoulos. He uses the splendid French Quarter architecture as a backdrop for several New Orleans legends who have been mainstays of Jazz Fest and of New Orleans music. The series of Dr. John, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Allen Toussaint all convey exactly what Jazz Fest is about and the greats that have made IT great.

Dr. John, Louis "Satchemo" Armstrong, Fats Domino, Allen Touissaint

And then there’s the great Cajun artist, George Rodrigue, of Blue Dog fame — and recent savior of the Youngsville Heritage Oak. Rodrigue combines his iconical dark oak tree and ever-popular blue dog to immortalize Louis Armstrong (once again), Pete Fountain and the great Al Hirt.

Satchemo, Pete Fountain & Al Hirt

Again, these images capture the essence of these great talents and their impact on Jazz music and making New Orleans its “Mecca”.

So, imagine my surprise at this year’s poster. First, the artist is Gordon Robinette. Robinette IS well known in New Orleans, but not as an artist. He is best known as a talking head/talk show host at WJBO radio station. I must say that as an artist, he is quite accomplished. I do like how he borrowed from the much beloved concept of Michalopoulos’ use of French Quarter architecture and I am impressed that he includes a future Jimmy Buffett looking over his shoulder at the young, broke street performer behind a Falcon, no less. (Which reminds me…I have a long, lost story about a Falcon. But I digress…that’s for another day.)

However, I am perplexed at just why Jimmy Buffett is featured on a JAZZ FEST poster? Now, don’t get me wrong. My Jimmy love is strong. See here, here & here. But this choice seems a bit indulgent. Is it a payback for Jimmy’s fantastic support during last year’s oil spill crisis and his wonderful free concert that many homies considered his “homecoming” to the Gulf Coast?

Or, perhaps it was meant to bolster Jimmy’s spirits after his recent dive off the stage in Australia? A pat on the back for investing in the coast by expanding his Magaritaville franchise in Pensacola, FL and Biloxi, MS? Dunno. But one thing I DO know is that Jimmy Buffett is not the impactful son of the South that the other icons that graced Jazz Fest posters before him.

I DO love Jimmy…but I’m conflicted. He is from Mobile, AL…where I live. He has played here ZERO times since he graduated from McGill Institute back in 1966 (He was a cheerleader, for Christ’s sake). His concert at the Gulf was the first time he’s played there in forever, even though his sister, Lulu, has a VERY popular bar/restaurant on the Intercoastal Canal in Gulf Shores. Jimmy is more a child of Key West and the Carribean. A few years ago, he started playing Jazz Fest, but he has NEVER been a staple there. While Robinette’s portrait refers to Jimmy’s street performing in the late ’60s, the fact is that Jimmy Buffett spent a relatively short period of time on the gummy, stinky streets of the French Quarter before heading out to Californina and ultimately, grounding himself in South Florida.

So, to wrap this all up…I am pumped up about the Jimmy poster because of the awesomeness that is Jimmy Buffett and all he stands for. But in true Libra fashion, I am disappointed that something that has generally been pure and true to its’ core concerning subjects chosen to promote one of the most fantastic musical experiences on Earth has chosen a subject that is, well, not exactly true to itself.

And, just to quench that burning question of MY favorite Jazz Fest poster EVAH?

Because, IT’S IRMA, baby!!

 

How Do I Love Thee…?

Let me count the ways.

Ah…l’amour. Thrilling, euphoric, tragic and agonizing. No more complicated emotion, but truly the “essence of life”.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

— 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

For your Valentine’s Day enjoyment, the Music Maven VD play list:

All You Need is Love - The Beatles
I Love You for Sentimental Reasons - Sam Cooke
Prisoner of Love - Billy Eckstine
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning - Frank Sinatra
Chapel of Love - The Dixie Cups
Crazy Love – Poco
I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You - Elvis Presley
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow - Carole King & James Taylor
Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman - Bryan Adams
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling - The Righteous Brothers
When I Fall in Love - Nat King Cole
Trust in Me - Etta James
Have a Little Faith in Me – John Hiatt
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Elvis, Etta James, frank sinatra, holidays, love

 

Good News…

Happy to report that the Youngsville Heritage Oak has been saved!

Through the hard work of concerned citizens (present & past), Guardian of the Oaks, TreesAcadiana, a generous property owner and artist George Rodrigue, the City Council was convinced to adopt an alternative that will allow the tree to remain in its current location as a link from past to present.

It has been thrilling to be a very small part of such a passionate cause and one that has such a connection to my own, personal history. $200,000 still needs to be raised to cover the cost of the alternative, so if you have always longed to have a Rodrigue print (signed & numbered), please purchase this one. All proceeds go to TreesAcadiana and the Youngsville Heritage Oak. Also, any monetary donation helps.

THANKS!!

Buy the Youngsville Heritage Oak print, here.

TreesAcadiana.org

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 13, 2011 in cajun, inspiration, Louisiana

 

My Life as a Tree

TREES
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray,

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair

Upon whose blossom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems were made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree.
­–Joyce Kilmer

Recently, it came to my attention that an old oak tree in my hometown of Youngsville, LA was going to be sacrificed for a TEMPORARY by-pass road to build a much-needed road improvement project. However, the tree was never threatened by the new road and intersection “round-about”, just the temporary road needed to keep the intersection opened for the 30-60 days for the project to be completed.

The "Young" Oak

To put this in proper context, you have to understand the value of the live oaks of Southwest Louisiana. They are not only steeped in history, as many of them supercede the existence of the state of Louisiana and even the country of the United States itself. The live oak in question is estimated to be at least 150 years old and could be more than 250 years old, based on its’ 14 ft. thickness.

It’s just a tree, right? True, enough. However, it’s also a symbol. A symbol of a strong and proud heritage. That tree stood when Attakapas Indians still roamed the plains of Louisiana. Generations of Cajuns (and visitors) passed that tree over its history. When Dr. Young, who the town is named after, searched for a homestead, no doubt this tree attracted him with its protective branches from the un-air-conditioned summer heat. No doubt, my grandparents passed that tree in their horse and buggy on the ride they took when my grandfather proposed to her. Both of my uncles likely looked back at that tree when they went off to war, and lovingly gazed upon it when they returned.

There is a certain love affair with trees, especially old ones, for the memories they invoke. Perhaps that’s why Cajuns are so tied to their old oaks. Like the Evangeline Oak in St. Martinville, helping a lovelorn maiden hold on to her long, lost love…

…or the majestic St. John Oak at the Cathedral in Lafayette…

…or the oaks that line the beautiful campuses of the University of Lousiana-Lafayette

and Louisiana State University (LSU)

The magnificient symbols provide the shadows of our lives. Celebrations such as weddings, like Charles Durand’s 1850 spectacular tribute of gold and silver dusted limbs at Oak & Pine Alley…

…to modern day weddings celebrated under the historic and loving arms of a comforting tie to the past at Jefferson Island…

These majestic creatures have endured the test of time to provide the backdrop of our lives. This past weekend, I traveled to my hometown and everywhere I went, the oaks seemed to remind me that one of their own needed help.

I did something that I’d been promising to do. I went to the place where I grew up…on seven acres, complete with ponds and wonderful, triumphant oaks. Growing up, there were a pair of oak trees on our property that were over 250 years old when we lived there. The property had belonged to my father’s great-grandparents and were likely rooted at the time they lived there. My grandfather did surgery on one of them to save it back in the 1930′s. I joyfully played make-believe among them as a child. My sister married beneath them in 1979. Luckily, the people who developed the subdivision recognized the value of these old oaks and chose to highlight them, rather than chop them down for another lot. They are simply…spectacular.

My cousin had us over for a visit and the one of the remaining twin oaks that graces her homestead (built on the site of her parents’ home), invited me in…

So many trees, so many memories, so much history.

It made me ponder how anyone could allow such a symbol and a living testament to God’s magnificence to be chopped down, murdered in affect. Now, hear me…I am not an activist nor do I consider myself an envrionmentalist. I get it. But, this time there is an alternative. The intersection at Hwy 89 and Hwy 92 in Youngsville, LA can be closed for a brief period of time to allow the road construction to be completed, or the temporary by-pass CAN be re-routed. However, the “City” Council and Mayor have chosen to be close-minded regarding the situation and now even claim that the citizens of Youngsville don’t even care if the tree comes down. If you agree with the city government, well…to each his own. But, if you don’t, PLEASE let your voice be heard. Call the City Council @ 337-856-4181 or click here for email addresses for the City Council and Mayor. Also, click here to sign our online petition to show your support for saving the tree so that City Government cannot claim that the citizens of Youngsville “don’t care”.

There is a possibility for moving the tree (not an overall preference, but a lesser of two evils). Helping to raise the more than $250,000 needed to move the tree, is artist George Rodrigue. He has graciously donated his talent to paint the oak and produce prints for sale for $500 each, with proceeds going to Guardian of the Oaks — an organization fighting to protect our leafy legends.

Renowned artist, George Rodrigue, painting the "Youngsville Oak"

George’s wife, Wendy, also has a great blog that highlights Rodrigue’s work and causes. He is a great testament to his heritage. Thank you, sir, for your support.

ETA: Here is Rodrigue’s finished art work of the Youngsville Oak. Visit his Foundation website for more information on purchasing. I’m already on the list. ;)

The doctor's buggy symbolizes Dr. Young, the namesake of Youngsville, who also built the historic home that is also included in the painting

 
5 Comments

Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Artists, cajun, Calling Bullsh*t, Louisiana

 
 
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