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