Sunday, February 19, 2012

Old Beyond Their Years

“If you’re not doing anything this Saturday night, I think you might enjoy listening to a performance by three young local musicians. Zach and a couple of his friends are playing at the Coffee Depot, which is just a few blocks from here.” This was “Mama” Redell’s (see 2/2/12 entry) recommen-dation. We had just been talking with her about Zach, the 14-year-old fiddler we had heard one Friday night at the weekly jam at the Heritage Visitor’s Center in Scott, LA.
“They’re really good.”

So, a couple of nights later we were at the Coffee Depot. This inviting, L-shaped coffee shop is the realization of a dream of Jeff and Sarah Laughlin. While talking with Jeff, we learned that they had wanted to open a coffee shop that was more than a stop for coffee while hunched over a computer. I think he would be happy if people from the community spent the day in his coffee shop/restaurant just visiting. (Note the coffee cup design carved on the backs of the chairs.)

But on this particular evening, conversation was secondary to a per-formance by three of the town’s highly regarded young musicians—Zach Fuselier, 14, fiddle; Luke Huval, 13, accordion; and Phillip Huval, 17, guitar.

Their level of skill was characteristic of performers twice their age. They played with confidence and a style all their own. Zach counting time (often with both feet), Luke conversing with his brother while playing, and Phillip hugging his guitar showed their comfort in appearing before an audience.

And then Luke began singing. His voice had the maturity of a young man who had passed through his teen years; his voice conveyed the emotions of the suffering and loss that the song’s hero experienced; and he sang in French.

It was no wonder that these three had been invited to perform in Ontario and Wisconsin this summer.

I met Patrick Fuselier, Zach’s father (left, standing), and in the course of the conver-sation with him, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the accordion and asked if he thought I could learn to play it.

He answered, “You could probably learn to play it ‘intellectually,’ that is, you could learn the notes and melodies, but you probably wouldn’t achieve the emotional component of your playing because you haven’t grown up hearing parents and grandparents playing the music.”

To me, that seemed an accurate assessment of what it takes to play Cajun music—accordion, fiddle, or guitar.

What a pleasure it was to listen to these young folks.

But there was an item on the menu that goes extremely well with conversa-tion. We had noticed several orders of this item being delivered to tables in the coffee shop. So we ordered drinks and an order of the house specialty--beignets.

These were not your typical Café Du Monde beignets. Sarah’s take on this marvelous New Orleans accompani-ment to conversation are called beignet fingers.

As we finished this delicious variation on what was every bit the equal of the Cafe's beignets, we learned from Luke's father, Terry, that Zach and Luke would be joining Cameron Dupuy and performing at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in May. In their roles in "The 14 and Under Cajun Band," Luke plays guitar and Cameron plays the accordion.

Some very talented young men, these Scott musicians.

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