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Thomas Matte  

When the photos on this page were taken on April 27, 2002, at Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette, accordionist Thomas Matte was 93 years old. The previous week, he gave a workshop during the Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week.

For years, he has been a familiar presence at jam sessions in the Church Point area.

In 1999, after playing music for most of his life, he finally made his first recording on the song "The Accordion Lesson," written by Buddy Hoffpauir, whose inspiration was the relationship between Thomas Matte and his grandson, Reggie Matte, accordionist with The Jambalaya Cajun Band. The song is included on the band's 1999 CD Lessons Learned, released by Swallow Records.

During his performance at Festival International, Thomas Matte, looking about two decades younger than his actual age, sat on the stage like it was a front porch, his fingers moving across the keys with an effortlessness achieved through a lifetime of experience. Freddie Hanks on guitar provided the vocals.

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Thomas Matte in 2005

Thomas Matte is shown performing at the Liberty Theater with his grandson, Reggie Matte, on accordion and other members of the Jambalaya Cajun Band (shown are Terry Huval on fiddle and Tony Huval on drums). Thomas Matte was 97 when these photos were taken May 14, 2005.



Originally Posted 7-1-02; bottom photos posted 8-18-05

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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