Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians
Posted between 1999 and 2008

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Liberty Theater      
celebrates the 1,000th show

On stage are host Barry Ancelet and the original opening band from 1987, the Church Point Playboys. In the left foreground are Moisey and Louella Baudoin, regulars at the Liberty from almost the beginning. A number of the long-time regulars joined together to provide food for the audience at the 1,000th show. Each Saturday, area residents are joined by visitors from all over the country and all around the world for the Rendez-vous des Cajuns radio program, "the only one of its kind," featuring the unique French music of Southwest Louisiana.

Dr. Barry Ancelet, host of the Liberty radio show
from the very beginning in 1987, hosted the 1,000th show.

Click on thumbnails to access larger photos.

National Park Service Ranger Vincent Fontenot announced the opening of the show. The program is co-sponsored by the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (the park's Prairie Acadian Cultural Center is next door). Larrell Richard is shown posing next to the pot of jambalaya he cooked for the audience. Larrell also posed with Moisey Baudoin to present a cake decorated to celebrate the 1,000th show.

The Church Point Playboys, the first band for the first show, were also the first band for the 1,000th show. Shown on fiddle is Bee Cormier, a major force in Cajun music over the years through the help he offered to young musicians who became members of his band. Jason Frey on accordion played with the Church Point Playboys in 1987 and at the 1,000th show.

Jeffery Broussard, son of the late Delton Broussard, who performed with the Lawtell Playboys at the second show in 1987, was on stage with his band, the Creole Cowboys. Shown are Clifton Broussard on bass; Jay Matthews on scrubboard; Eric Broussard on drums; Jeffery Broussard on accordion; Corey Broussard on guitar; and D'Jalma Garnier on guitar.

The Jambalaya Cajun Band has performed at the Liberty more than any other group--a total of 64 times counting tonight. Ancelet refers to them as the "house band." Shown are Terry Huval and Reggie Matte on fiddle and accordion and two of their special guests for the evening, D.L. Menard and Rodney LeJeune. Shown below is their other special guest, Paul Daigle (who has played the Liberty 35 times over the years). All of the guests joined Jambalaya for the final number: from left, Kenneth David, Terry Huval, Paul Daigle, Reggie Matte, Rodney LeJeune (with D.L. Menard in back), Bobby Dumatrait, and Randy Champagne, with Tony Huval in back of the group on drums.

The Liberty was packed for the
1,000th show. Not pictured is the balcony
seating, what Ancelet refers to as
the "cheap seats." Actually, general
admission for everyone is $5 (12 and under
free, 5-show pass for $15).


Click here for high res photos of the show on Flickr.

Click here for the Liberty schedule.

On July 11, 1987, the National Park Service and the City of Eunice broadcast the first Rendez-vous des Cajuns radio show from the recently renovated Liberty Center for the Performing Arts. On Feb. 24, 2007, Dr. Barry Ancelet, the host of the first show and nearly every show since, announced the beginning of the 1,000th show. The Church Point Playboys, the original opening band in 1987, started the 2007 show with "Johnny peux pas danser."  On accordion for the first and for the 1,000th show was Jason Frey.  Leading the Church Point Playboys both in 1987 and twenty years later was Elton "Bee" Cormier, joined by his son Barry on drums and vocals and by Barry's son Matt on bass. Other 2007 members were Mark Latiolais on guitar and Lulu Cormier on steel guitar.  Note: Matt Cormier died Aug. 25, 2007, as the result of a work injury. He was a truly talented musician who played both accordion and fiddle and sang French vocals. It is tragic to lose someone at such a young age who had such promise carrying on the family legacy of Cajun music.

Ancelet, who has been a leader in numerous activities to promote the preservation of French in Louisiana, uses the radio show both to educate and entertain but most of all to give the French-speaking people of Louisiana a chance to hear themselves on the radio, to listen to their language and their culture. At each show, Ancelet talks to band members about their music and their experiences, tells jokes in both French and English, and, between bands, visits with members of the audience to find out where they are from and often to chat with a few of the regulars who go to the show every Saturday.  Ancelet holds an endowed professorship, has a long list of major academic achievements, and a few months earlier was knighted with the title of Chevalier into the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French ambassador to the United States. But his most important contribution to the people of Louisiana has been his ability to speak with them in the same lively, direct, engaging voice that he and the rest of the Cajun community share as their heritage.

Over the years, the Liberty has attracted a core of regulars who join other audience members dancing on the sloping wooden floor in front of the stage. The regulars organized a meal for the entire audience to celebrate  the 1,000th show. Larrell Richard cooked a huge black pot of his famous jambalaya, and, in addition to sheet cakes, Moisey and Louella Baudoin, regulars since almost the beginning, brought a cake decorated for the occasion.

After the Church Point Playboys finished their set, the audience members lined up to get their meal, served from tables in front of the stage, while Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys began pumping out some down-home Zydeco. Jeffery's father, the late Delton Broussard, and the Lawtell Playboys performed for the second show at the Liberty in 1987. In addition to Cajun and Zydeco bands, the Liberty has also from time to time featured Swamp Pop groups.

The Creole Cowboys closed their set with same number Jeffery's father closed with in 1987, "Les flammes d'enfer," a sorrowful lamentation  musically transformed by the culture of French Louisiana into a celebration of the joy of life.

In between bands, Ancelet reminisced about past shows like the first time in 1988 that Steve Riley performed at the Liberty (hearing the sound check as he walked in the building, Ancelet assumed it was Dewey Balfa) or the evening when he invited a young Horace Trahan on stage after Helena Putnam, the backstage producer, told him she was impressed by his playing at an earlier jam session. Playing by himself, Horace captivated the audience with Iry LeJeune's "Viens me chercher." "There wasn't a dry eye in the house," Ancelet recalled. "He brought the whole place down by himself." 

Ancelet also recounted the hard work of community and cultural leaders like former Eunice Mayor Curtis Joubert, Marc and Ann Savoy, and many others who worked to restore the Liberty, which dates from the early 1920s, and who played key roles in developing the radio show.

The Jambalaya Cajun Band, led by Terry Huval, closed the show, the 64th time they played at the Liberty, not including the country music performances Terry has organized to benefit the Liberty.  Their special guests included D. L. Menard (with 28 previous appearances), Rodney LeJeune (with 8 appearances), and Paul Daigle (with 35 appearances). D.L. performed "La porte d’en arrière " and "En bas du chêne vert." Reggie Matte sang "La valse de la vie," one of the signature songs of Paul Daigle and Cajun Gold.  The Jambalaya Cajun Band and their guests gathered together for the final number, "J'étais au bal."

As he has been since the first show, Jerry Devillier was on hand to videotape the program, which is broadcast on KDCG television, a low power station in Opelousas carried over cable systems throughout the area and on Acadiana Open Channel in Lafayette.  The shows are being transferred to DVDs that will be housed at the Archives of Cajun and Creole Folklore at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and at the Cajun French Music Association Museum in Eunice.


Posted 5-16-07
All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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