Friday, October 26, 2012

Six Degrees of Treme

Eric Overmyer and Kandi Alexander from Treme at Los Angeles Central Library on June 6, 2011 Ironically, the last wedding anniversary I celebrated with my late wife Karen was at a Los Angeles Central Library ALOUD program on June 6, 2011 that featured Eric Overmyer, co-producer of HBO's Treme, that celebrates New Orleans culture post-Katrina, with the Treme neighborhood being a symbol of the rebirth of New Orleans, available as a podcast here.  Karen and I had visited Louisiana and New Orleans, eleven times all post Katrina, and we ourselves had been witnessing the rebirth of New Orleans. We first heard about Treme at the very beginning of filming in New Orleans, when David Mills, the other creative partner from HBOs The Wire unexpectly passed away. We were having a fabulous Friday lunch at Uptown's  Patois in early 2010 discussing HBO's filming of Treme with our server and at  an adjacent table, Robert D. Peyton, the restaurant critic of New Orleans Magazine.  The server told us that the production team from Treme had very recently eaten at this nationally recognized New Orleans restaurant and she was stunned to learn of his sudden passing.

Over the last six months, I have visited New Orleans and Lousiana Cajun country three times, including my first visits to the Treme neighborhood, and an opportunity to see Kermit Ruffins, the musician who is also part of the Treme cast perform at Downtown Lafayette Live as shown below and by my pictures on Flickr.
 Which brings me to six degrees of Treme and the connection to Wilson Savoy and his Pine Leaf Boys. Wilson has appeared three times on Treme, including a great scene with Lucia Micarelli who plays Annie, the violinist who has gone Americana with her fiddle playing, and in the most recent ephisode of Season 3, "I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say" shows off her roots fiddling and singing to her parents.  When I saw this scene, I wondered if Annie's Treme singing was inspired by my New Orleans and Los Angeles friend, Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Revue, whom National Geographic Explorer writer "Where's Andrew" had called the best music he had discovered during his visit in November 2011.  Gal Holiday has a loyal following in New Orleans and is beginning to build an audience in Los Angeles.  Watch for future pictures and video of Gal Holiday in the ExperienceLA blog.

I absolutely love New Orleans, and in fact, visitors from California, make up around 5% of the visitors to New Orleans, right up there with Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama, while Texas is around 10%.  I suspect most people who visit New Orleans from California, never make it out to Cajun country, in and around Lafayette, Louisiana.  A festival that I have come to adore, is the Festivals Acadiens et Creoles, that occurs annually during October that celebrates Cajun food and music culture.  This festival not to be confused with Festival International de Lousiane, Lafayette's own version of New Orleans' Jazz fest.

The high energy of Wilson Savoy and the Pine Leaf Boys demonstrates why they have been nominated for a Grammy four years in a row as demonstrated in this YouTube video I filmed at this year's Festivals Acadiens.

Wilson Savoy is part of what some may call the first family of Cajun music who along with his brother Joel Savoy make up some of today's leading cajun and swamp pop bands coming out Louisina.  What is interesting about the Cajun music scene is the support the musicians provide each other, and the number of bands that they perform with.  Here is a picture I especially like of Wilson Savoy and Jon Bertrand (who is a rising star himself): Pine Leaf Boys Having Musical Fun This year was my third visit to the Festivals Acadiens and had a chance to see Wilson Savoy perform with several bands, including the Savoy Family band with his brother Joel, father Marc, and mother Ann (who some will know from the Magnolia Sisters or the music from Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood). Marc and Ann Savoy are legends in the preservation of this Lousisiana French culture and music. Here is a link to my entire set of pictures on Flickr of the Pine Leaf Boys.

Here in Southern California, we can find cajun music at four major annual music and food festivals.  Last year one could have even seen Joel Savoy in Long Beach, along with a number of interesting food vendors and the Ragin Cajun food truck.  Here are the links to these four major festivals:

Long Beach Crawfish Festival in July
Long Beach Bayou and Blues Festival in June
Semi Valley Cajun and Blues Music Festival in May
San Diego Gator by the Bay Festival in May

So start making your plans to attend one or more of these Southern California cajun and zydeco music festivals in 2013, or better yet, plan a vacation next year to Louisiana Cajun country, which is like visiting another country, and you will find more music and food festivals then you can ever imagine. 

And yes, Karen and I did spend June 6, 2011 at the LA Central Library ALOUD event with wine and appetizers before the event at Drago Centro, but our blow out bash for celebrating 29 years together was at the Hollywood Bowl on June 3, 2011 to see Star Wars music performed live with high definition scenes of the movie on a giant screen.  We had front row center box seats.

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