I have always enjoyed both cajun and zydeco music and the food that originates from the same Southwest Louisiana area but had never been there and have long wanted to go. On my frequent trips to New Orleans, I would go to the Sunday afternoon cajun session at Tipitina’s and Thursday zydeco nights at the Rock N Bowl. I usually planed my trips to take these in. Growing up in New Orleans we were exposed to both the music and the food of the region. My father used to take me fishing in the bayous but we never went west of Houma. So when I had some time to go back to New Orleans recently, I made sure that I ventured out to the Opelousas and Lafayette areas.
As I arrived in New Orleans on my way to spend some time in the Opelousas and Lafayette LA areas, I got a welcoming email from Herman Fuselier, Communications Director, St. Landry Parish Tourist Commission. Herman was responding to a blog post I did on zydeco and cajun musicians in anticipation of my trip to the area. He invited to me visit their St. Landry Parish web site, along with their Facebook and Twitter pages. They also have a YouTube page and a blog - St. Landry Parish - It's Gumbo for Your Soul. Herman also offered to provide advice and I immediately took him up on the offer. Herman told me about two zydeco shows that I had not been able to find online. I ended up seeing both and will be writing about them next weekend. He also encouraged me to attend a third that I had considered and this turned out to be wise counsel. Here is their weekly preview of zydeco events.
Herman invited me to come by the new St. Landry Parish Visitor Information Center. Stopping there and talking with Herman and his colleagues provided a great introduction to the Lafayette Opelousas area. It is located off exit 23 on I-49, just north of Opelousas and should be one of your first stops. Below is Cheryl Castille, Herman, and Celeste Gomez, the commission director. They spend over an hour with me, each offering useful ideas. I could have easily stayed longer but wanted to start following their suggestions.
Tomorrow and over the two following weekends I will be writing about what I found in terms of music, food, countryside, and welcoming people. I highly recommend going to this area for its rich cultural traditions. My three days were too short and I hope to get back soon. To tour the countryside over several days, I followed a guide provided by the Visitor Center that showed the scenic byways. Herman also offered a great lunch suggestion at Soileau’s in Opelousas. I went to the Saturday morning Cajun jam session at the Savoy Music Center, more on it next weekend. Herman has several radio programs. His show, Zydeco Stomp, streams live on the web at www.krvs.org. It airs Saturdays from noon to 3PM. As I was driving through the countryside after spending the morning at the Savoy Cajun jam, Herman gave me a shout out on his show welcoming me to the area. His actions were typical of what I encountered from many people. Tomorrow I will cover more about his radio shows, as well as that of his colleague Cheryl Castille and others. Many are available online.
Herman’s actions are a great example of the power of social media and the ability of it to connect people. He monitors several alerts and noticed my post on one. Then he followed up with very useful advice. Now I want to further share what he and his colleagues shared with me.