by Madison Boudoin, staff writer
In the small town of Thibodaux, the Cajun Music Preservation Society is striving to keep authentic Cajun music alive throughout the bayou region of Louisiana. The society is preserving not only the music, but the rich Cajun culture as well.
This non-profit organization sends a group of musicians to perform at a variety of events along the bayou, and hosts a Cajun Jam twice a month. The Cajun Jam takes place at Gina’s at the Legion – a restaurant located in downtown Thibodaux.
The jam completely ecompasses the true spirit of the Cajun culture – from the lively music, to the delicious food on the menu. Top that off with a family-friendly environment, and the result is an experience like no other.
Locals gather from all over the bayou to watch the performance. There are usually around 80 people that go out to the event for some fun. The jam is nothing less than a night filled with entertainment and good times.
“I come to the Cajun Jam for the food and music, but nothing beats the people that are here,” says Mark Portier, a Gray native who loves attending this event with his wife, Yvonne. The couple of 54 years finds joy in dancing the night away with their friends to the sound of traditional Cajun instruments.
“The atmosphere is just wonderful. Everyone is so friendly and this is why we come here,” says Yvonne Portier.
The jam provides a very welcoming atmosphere – one that is a major part of the Cajun culture and can be found all over the bayou region.
The Cajun Jam has the right blend of music, food, and people, which give tourists a small insight to life on the bayou. It is a life that can only be experienced by livin’ like a local.
To live like a local, means to eat like a local. At the Cajun Jam, tourists get the chance to do just that. Gina’s at the Legion offers authentic Cajun food that can only be found in southern Louisiana. Authentic Cajun food pairs well with an authentic Cajun performance.
According to Quenton Fontenot, co-founder of the society, you will never see the same performance twice. This is because all of the musicians are volunteers which leads to a different set of performers for every show. “I think the always changing mix of musicians at our jams is pretty cool,” says Fontenot. This means that each show provides the audience with a unique experience.
The musicians have a strong passion for Cajun music that shines through each and every show. “This is my favorite thing to do, and performing is so much fun,” says David Nieland, a volunteer musician. Nieland plays the guitar, and performs at the Cajun Jam regularly to share his passion for Cajun music with others. Nieland says that it is great to share this music with the locals, but it “means even more” to share it with tourists who may be experiencing the Cajun culture for the first time.
“While I am playing my guitar, I like to look around and watch everyone dance,” says Nieland. He says it is wonderful to see new people, especially tourists, learning the Cajun dances from the locals. The Cajun Jam provides visitors with the opportunity to become fully immersed into the Cajun culture.
The musicians of the Cajun Music Preservation Society are working hard to make Cajun music more available to people in Southeast Louisiana by hosting the Cajun Jam and taking part in as many local events as possible. Learn more and stay up to date on all events by visiting welovecajunmusic.org.