Friday, April 28, 2006

Festival International de Louisiane.

The site logs tell me we get a fair number of visitors from around the country and even across the water. Those folks put up with the decidedly local flavor, jokes, and occasional sardonic and obscure-to-outsider references because, I suspect, they feel some affinity for the struggle here.

So welcome friends from beyond our borders. You've shared the less-than-fun stuff and hard times. Interesting, maybe; and exciting at times, but it seems only fair to share the good stuff that makes the fight worthwhile. Festival International is one of those things.

I've described Festival before on these pages and the description remains apt:
The festival is the United States' premiere francophone festival. [History] Music from all over the world with an emphasis on French-speaking lands; a big juried craft fair, un place des infants, mixed drinks, great food stands (really), and dancing..lots of dancing...almost anywhere.

It's a wonderful experience spread out over downtown's three stages with activity also running along the turn of the century main downtown drag, Jefferson Street. The festival stages are new, with a clean design, spacious enough for a real crowd but not so large that anyone ends up out of sight or out of earshot. This is what they were designed for and the spaces work. The artwork and the crafts look out from your usual American fare and toward the Caribbean and Africa. There's an energy and...well..joie de vivre. If you ever get the chance you should come. Folks get happily addicted.
It's impossible to capture the full flavor of Festival, but here's a for-instance: I went down to the Fais Do Do Stage on Jefferson with Layne opening night and heard Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band. Great music. The audience filled up the space in front of the stage and spilled out into the street. We watched from a strategic place in the street that was within striking distance of the mixed drinks booth and the Joe's Dreyfus Store Restaurant booth. (Recommended: Festival Punch and the deep fried roast beef po-boys (really--some tasty!)) We watched sweet old couples dancing slow and young man who we recognized as one of the (in)famous dancing waiters at Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge pulling women from the crowd for some Zydeco dancing. Friends drifted by and we talked about business and the latest in the fiber fight between high energy songs. Tobey, who came down for the referendum, was in town for TechSouth and we got to watch a northeasterner trying to take in the multi-racial, multicultural, laughing, dancing melange and high-voltage rubboard and accordion music. He seemed a bit dazed. But maybe that was Festival Punch. As the evening wore on the family group right behind us started dancing among themselves and one guy started dancing with everyone nearby...In my family Layne, Robin, and Erin all got a turn. His regular dancing partner took pity and showed us some steps--and the women how to properly use their hips. Everyone took pictures but me. I always forget my camera.

If you'd like to participate from a distance, thanks to the wonders of the modern internet you can. Take a listen at KRVS's live stream. When the music's on KRVS's stream will be there. Saturday is the big day. Kick back and participate vicariously. But there is nothing like coming to visit. If you're not local make a plan to come on down. (Someday we'll have streaming video out of AOC for you but even then it'll only be a taste.)

Thanks all...

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