Music on the Louisiana prairie
It’s Saturday night in Eunice, and a line forms outside Liberty Theatre, home of the Rendezvous des Cajun Radio and TV Show.
For more than a decade the weekly performance known as the Rendez-Vous Des Cajuns Live Radio and TV Show attracts visitors and locals for an evening of live Cajun or zydeco music. The beautifully restored vaudeville venue of the Liberty Theatre in Eunice comes alive for an hour and a half, as tunes flow from the stage and dancers take to the floor, waltzing or two-stepping. The show is hosted by folklorist Dr. Barry Ancelet, who welcomes the crowd in Cajun French. Don’t worry if you don’t parlez vous francais as the local resident sitting next to you will be happy to translate. But of course, Ancelet does break into English for the non-francophones in attendance. On this particular weekend, Grammy nominated Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys play to a full house. Riley makes his accordion dance as he sings songs taught to him by Cajun greats like the Balfa Brothers and Eunice native, Marc Savoy.
You might want to even start your day with a visit to the Savoy Music Center for its Saturday mornings Savoy Music Jam Session. Owner Marc Savoy, a world-renowned accordion maker and musician, sets up shop behind the storefront were this weekly ritual occurs. Both accomplished musicians and beginners show up, one doing what comes naturally and the other hoping to master that one song. Of course, if toe tapping is your talent, you’ll fit right in! Marc is often joined by his wife, Ann, a noted musician and author, or one of his sons, who are quickly earning their place in the world of Cajun music.
After a lunch at one of the local diners, you can spend some time at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve - Acadian Cultural Center. The Center tells the story of the Acadians that settled on the prairies of Louisiana through extensive exhibits and artifacts. On Saturday afternoons, park rangers conduct a music program followed by a cooking demonstration, giving a great overview of two subjects very important in this part of the country – music and food. Here you will also find an assortment of publications and recorded music, as well as children’s books and crafts available for purchase.
Other attractions you’ll find in downtown Eunice are the Cajun Music Hall of Fame & Museum and the Eunice Depot Museum, located just next door. Lots to do before that ticket window opens at the Liberty at 4 p.m.!