2003 – Louisiana Trip

A version of Margot’s article as it appeared in Gary Hayman’s U.S.A. web site ZydE-Zine.

Margot, also known as the Cajun Queen of Melbourne, has been teaching Cajun dancing since 1995 at venues and Music Festivals.  She has written before in other publications on her previous trip to Louisiana and her activities in music and dance.  This “Lets do it All trip” shows how much you can pack into a two week visit to Cajun country in Louisiana.  An inspirational trip to lovers of all things Cajun.  

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Margot met Glenn when he contacted her through her website before he came to Melbourne. They met up and Margot took Glenn to hear Billy Abbott’s Zydeco band ‘Crawfish Dave’ where they Cajun danced all night. They kept in touch via email and then Glenn invited Margot to join him in September 2003 for Festivals Acadiens in Louisiana for two weeks of Cajun music and dancing.

My friend Glenn, a Cajun dance teacher, from England, met me at the New Orleans Airport, after my 23 hour trip from my home in Melbourne, Australia and three hours sleep.  As I teach Cajun dancing in Melbourne, I knew I would be in for a good time with another Cajun dance teacher for our two week’s stay in Louisiana.  We drove in our hire car to the Best Western Motel in New Orleans.

A shower and change and we arrived for our dinner booking at Michaul’s Restaurant.  But we were too late for dinner, so had a drink and a dance and then went to Mulate’s Restaurant on the Mississippi River where we had Cajun food and Cajun danced some more.  Next morning, we had a swim in the pool and then a spa, and our continental breakfast and caught the free shuttle bus to see the sights of New Orleans.

Our first stop was the Riverwalk and the French Quarters, where Glenn photographed me standing outside the riverboat, the Cajun Queen, which is the name of my website.  We found the Market and souvenir shops and had lunch listening to a Jazz band and danced.   We walked to Bourbon Street, and enjoyed the sights.

Then a two-hour drive to Breaux Bridge, to our accommodation at the Bayou Cabins where I had stayed in 2001.  We went that night to Mulate’s, the original Cajun Restaurant in Breaux Bridge for dinner and danced to Jay Cormier’s band and I got to play a few numbers with my rub-board with Jimmy Breaux on accordion.

Wednesday we had dinner at Mulate’s Restaurant again and Cajun danced, and played some more with Jay Cormier.

Thursday, we drove to Henderson to Whisky River Landing where we hoped to go one Sunday night to dance.  We booked to go the next morning at the nearby McGee’s Atchafalya Basin Swamp Tour.  That night we had dinner at Randol’s Restaurant in Lafayette and danced to Leo and Ray Abshire and The Old Tymers Band.

Friday, we enjoyed the sights on the Swamp tour in a big boat.  Friday afternoon we drove to Lafayette to ‘Downtown Alive’ in Parc International, which was the start of the free Festivals Acadiens. We danced to the music of Bruce Daigrepont, and Dwayne Dopsie and The Zydeco Hellraisers.  Then went to the Grant Street Dancehall to see Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys where we Cajun danced some more.

Saturday, we were up early to go to Café Des Amis in Breaux Bridge for the Zydeco Breakfast which started at 8.30am.  We danced with many locals and had a wonderful time and I had lemon pie for breakfast!

Then off again to Lafayette for a fantastic day at the Festivals Acadiens, in Girard Park.  The music was awesome, and we danced in front of the bandstand to Ray Abshire, Paul Daigle and Cajun Gold band, Jambalaya, Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie, and Preston Frank and the Zydeco Family band with Keith Frank, Traiteurs with Sonny Landreth and guests, and Feu Follet who were my choice of many brilliant performers.  Then another drive back to Breaux Bridge to dinner at Mulate’s again to see Paul Daigle and Cajun Gold band, who I’d met at the Cajun/Creole festival in West Virginia in 2001.

Sunday, we went back to Lafayette for the last day of Festivals Acadiens, and it rained most of the day, but people just danced in the rain in the hot, humid weather.  I enjoyed the Creole Music Workshop, with Dexter Ardion, Cory Ledet, Joe Hall, Mitch Reed, Cory “Lil Pop” Ledet, Cedric Watson, James Adams and Hadley Castille.  All great musicians and people danced under the big marquee.  Then I played some triangle in the jam session, and saw  Balfa Toujours, and, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, ( two of my favorite bands who came to Melbourne to perform) then Marc and Ann Savoy with their son, Joel Savoy, then topped this off with Wayne Toups and ZydeCajun.   Then to Breaux Bridge and dinner at Mulate’s and danced to Tony Thibodeaux and the Cajun Five band.

Monday night, we drove to Prejean’s Award Winning Cajun Cuisine and live Cajun music Restaurant in Lafayette. Danced to the music of the Michot Brothers (Freres Michot).

Tuesday, we went to the Cajun Cultural Centre and Virmillionville, a Cajun/Creole Heritage and Folklife Park in Lafayette.  Followed in the afternoon by an exciting swamp tour with Norbet LeBlanc at Lake Martin and the Bayou Teche, where we saw three alligators.  At night it was back to Mulate’s Restaurant and some more Cajun dancing and play in Jay Cormier’s band with Kevin Dugas, the drummer from Steve Riley’s band. We also met up with other friends of Glyn’s who were part of a group from the U.K.

Wednesday, we were invited by our hosts, Rocky and Lisa Sonnier to visit their home and attend a Rally and BBQ for Ronny Theriot who was standing for Sheriff.  David Greely on fiddle, from Steve Riley’s band was playing Cajun music with Pat Breaux  (Jimmy Breaux’s brother) on accordion, and Glyn and I danced.

Thursday, we drove to see the Evangeline Oak tree in St. Martinville, of the legendary fame in Longfellow’s poem, “Evangaline”.  Then onto Lafayette, and had lunch at Chris’ Poboys, then went to the craft market called San Souci and the local Indian Craft market.  Then to the Blue Moon Saloon for drinks and more Cajun music.  At night we went to the Grant Street Dance Hall to attend a Zydeco dance workshop, and had supper with a local Cajun.

Friday, we drove to Opelousas, and had lunch at ‘The Palace’.  Then drove to Eunice to Marc Savoy’s Music Store, and then back to Opelousas for dinner at Souliers (Swallows).  Then onto Lawtell to Frank Ranch, a bar and dance hall where mostly local coloured people were Zydeco dancing to Geno Delafose and French Rockin’ Boogie. What a night we had, and we saw such great Zydeco dancing.  We met and talked to Geno Delafose.

Saturday, we were up early to drive to Mamou, to attend the Live Cajun Music Radio Program at Fred’s Lounge from 9am to 1pm.  Wow, what a blast with Tante Sue (Aunt Sue) behind the bar with her gun holster strapped to her leg, which held her bottle of liquor ready for a ‘shot’ when the fancy took her..!  The place packed with dancers and drinkers having a good time, which I did too. I was impressed with the young Cajun accordion player, Troy LeJeune who played in the band.

After Fred’s Lounge, we drove back down past Eunice  to attend the 3rd annual Creole Zydeco Festival at the Frog Festival Grounds in Rayne, which featured six Zydeco bands.   We saw Jamie Bergeron and The Kicking Cajuns and Step Rideau, and Zydeco danced in the hot sun. I was pleased to met Patsy who produces the ‘Patsy Report’ on Gary Hayman’s website (an amazing list of places to go and hear great Cajun/Zydeco music—a must for all visitors to Cajun country).  Then a drive to Villeplatte to Floyd’s Record Shop to purchase some CD’s and back to Breaux Bridge for a shower and rest.

We were tired but somehow after something to eat and a shower, we found energy to go off again to  La Poussiere in Breaux Bridge at 11pm to Cajun dance some more, on a great dance floor.  The band was Walter Mouton and the Scott Playboys, and we danced with the older traditional local Cajuns who made us most welcome.

Sunday, we had lunch at Bayou Cabins with our hosts Rocky & Lisa Sonnier, and drank champagne with Rocky for his birthday.  Then in the evening we drove to Whisky River Landing in Henderson to dance one last time at a ‘must go’ place to Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.  Wow, what a night that was, lots of Cajun and Zydeco dancing in a packed dance floor over-looking the Atchafalaya Lake. For the second time I met a local Cajun called Greg who I swapped business cards with and promised I would come back to dance with him again.

Then our departure the next day from the New Orleans airport and Louisiana.  What a wonderful and memorable holiday we had full of great Cajun and Zydeco music and dancing, food, friendly people, and fun

They say if you have ever drank the water from the Bayou Teche, you will be back for more, well this is my second trip there and I hope I will be back for more.

Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler – ‘Let the good times roll’…

Margot Hitchcock  – October 2003       ©

But my fun was not over, I stopped off at Los Angeles to stay for a week with my friend Allan who had also come to Melbourne and who I had Cajun danced with and he too had met me through my website.  Allan took me to the  Yosemite National Park and I saw the most awesome mountains. It was 700 ft high at Glacier Point. We also went to see the huge trees in the Sequoia National Park.  Some of the huge trees dated back before Christ. The Sherman tree was said to be 3,000 years old. I enjoyed having margaritas to drink in Allan’s spa bath. Another day we went to Disney California, a newly opened theme park at Disney Land. Then a drive the next day in the Mojave desert or desert bashing in Allan’s 4 wheel drive dual cab Chevrolet . Then another nice spa and margaritas and the following night an Agatha Christie play with English accents. Then it was back to pack my bags and say goodbye to Allan. I left Allan with thoughts of his planned trip to Australia next year. I boarded the Qantas plane playing the song “I still call Australia Home” and “Waltzing Matilda”. I hadn’t missed Australia until then..!!   It brought tears to my eyes to know I was home again….

Oh yes, life is good when good things happen to you through your love and passion for all things Cajun and people who love Cajun music.

Margot Hitchcock  – October 2003       ©