Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Coffee and Culture Café

One of the objectives in our travels has been to "go at least 'knee-deep' into the culture of a community." Nowhere in the country is that easier to do than in Cajun Country (Acadiana) around Lafayette, Louisiana. Visit Eunice, Rayne, Scott, Carencro, Cecilia, Henderson, Arnaudville, Broussard, Kaplan, Abbeville, and the Atchafalya Basin and you'll hear the music of past generations, enjoy the foods of grandmothers who never wrote down the recipes for gumbos, jambalaya, and etoufees, and overhear conversations, many in Cajun French, that revere the neighbors next door with the same regard that the wonderful people of this fascinating region have for hometown musicians who have toured the world.

And in Breaux Bridge, we have the most recent example of the ingredients in this cultural/anthropological gumbo. The entries of the past two days described Buck and Johnny's restaurant where we enjoyed some regional favorites and met several people from the area.

On a Saturday morning, a short walk from the restaurant brought us to the former Broussard's Hardware Store, built in 1925,
and in the former antique shop in this building was Joíe de Vívre, fittingly described as "A Coffee and Culture Café."
And here amid the work of local artists,



musicians had gathered for the weekly jam session. And among the dozen and one-half musicians were accomplished artists with national reputations playing alongside others who simply enjoy playing tunes and reliving family memories associated with these tunes.
The unique Cajun accordion and
the washtub bass, a utilitarian substitute for a string bass, along with guitars, fiddles, and a mandolin filled out the instrumental composition of the group.
Two participants would not allow the braces on their hands to stop them from joining in.

This attention to the braces turned my attention to the hands of the musicians, and these next two photos concentrate on just the hands of some of the members.

"Melanie Harrington (owner) explained, 'People feel comfortable first at home, then at work, then at churches or bars where they can socialize with familiar faces. Coffeehouses are fast becoming the "third space," Harrington said, 'a place where people feel at home and can enjoy time with friends'" (countryroadsmagazine.com "Cafe Joie de Vivre")

As we watched the musicians, we were struck by the emotions shown in their faces. Most of the musicians appeared very serious as they were playing,


but one guitarist was the most animated and expressive in the group. Her enthusiastic strumming and movements were just blurs in my camera.

We love the people, the music, and the food of Acadiana.

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