|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.