Cajun Still Alive and Kickin'

By Buckman, Bob | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 25, 2001 | Go to article overview

Cajun Still Alive and Kickin'


Buckman, Bob, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Bob Buckman

EUNICE, La. - Every Saturday night, this small, quintessential Old South farming town becomes the Nashville of Cajun music.

By 5 p.m., the mixed audience of home-grown Cajuns and out-of-state tourists begins lining up to pay the $5 admission fee to the Liberty Theater, an amber-brick structure that first opened 74 years ago as a silent movie house.

It closed in the early 1980s, like so many small-town movie theaters. But since 1987, the images inside the renovated Liberty have been live, and rare is the night that all 414 seats aren't filled for the "Rendez-Vous des Cajuns."

At 6 p.m., a switch is thrown and Barry Ancelet, perched atop a stool at stage right, greets the expectant visitors and his radio listening audience throughout an 11-parish area with a resonant "Bon soir, mes amis."

Mr. Ancelet, 49, a professor of Cajun French at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, holds court for the next two hours as master of ceremonies over what has become both a popular entertainment event and a successful cultural experiment.

One and sometimes two Cajun bands appear each week in this Louisiana version of the Grand Ole Opry. On a recent Saturday, the red-and-white-clad Jambalaya Cajun Band from Lafayette held sway, its fiddles and accordions coaxing couples onto the pine dance floor below the stage with lilting waltzes and toe-tapping two-steps.

A week later, it was 21-year-old Kevin Naquin and his Ossun Playboys. Mr. Naquin is an up-and-comer in the genre who symbolizes the hybrid sounds of the traditional and the modern.

The Liberty Theater is actually a museum, part of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park chain. The National Park Service operates the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center next door and provides funding for the theater. The city of Eunice owns the theater and is responsible for producing and promoting the shows. Both the theater and the cultural center are designed to preserve a culture that has been acquiescing slowly to the encroachments of modern American society.

But Mr. Ancelet, who is considered the country's foremost authority on Cajun culture, isn't at all intimidated by new looks and new sounds.

"The word `tradition' is sometimes misunderstood as a thing, when in reality it's a process," he said. "I'm not interested in preserving Cajun culture as something you put under glass in a museum. It's an ongoing process. Cajun music is not ready for an autopsy."

Mr. Ancelet pointed out that the sounds generally identified by outsiders as Cajun, ever since fiddler Dewey Balfa brought national attention to this branch of folk music 37 years ago, were in fact the product of a succession of outside influences over three centuries.

When the original Acadians (the word "Cajun" is an Anglo corruption of "Acadian") were exiled by the British from what is now Nova Scotia in the 1750s, they brought with them the traditional folk music and ballads of their French forebears as well as the hornpipe music borrowed from their Scottish neighbors in Canada.

It was from German immigrants to Louisiana in the last century that the Cajuns adopted what has become one of the mainstays of their music - the diatonic accordion.

One of the country's best known Cajun bands, the Hackberry Ramblers, dates to the 1940s and was heavily influenced by Western swing; they do not even have an accordion. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Cajun Still Alive and Kickin'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.