Monday, January 10, 2011

A full moon guides us home after Visiting Drew Landry at Bourque's Social Club by Patty McGehee

A full moon guides us home after Visiting Drew Landry at Bourque's Social Club

by Patty McGehee on Monday, June 28, 2010 at 10:16am
For a long while I have heard stories about Bourque's Social club. Little comments here and there, mostly legendary stuff about an enchanted building with the haunts of many wonderful live musical performances of days gone by. So when Drew Landry sent out a call for people to come hear him play there on Saturday night, I had the urge to take one of our night trips out to Acadiana to hopefully hear some original music. After listening to the CD I had purchased from Drew a while back, I was intrigued with the idea of seeing him in this small setting.

We set out around 6 o'clock and drove into Lafayette and went to eat at a restaurant. We lazed around at our table, making small talk and finally we set out to find Bourque's which is out of Lafayette in Scott, La.

We drove out and on the way I was explaining that the way we were headed was the way we used to drive to go to Cankton to Jay's Cockpit lounge. In fact, we missed the turn to go to Bourque's and wound up at the turn on the highway to go to Cankton and we had to back track. I began to tell Dan stories about my forays there in 1973.

We drove past Bourque's twice because the Map Quest directions said it was on the right side of the road. We drove up and asked a lady sitting in the yard if we were at the right place and she said yes. We got out and went inside at a door on the side of the building. I expected the place to be lit up on the outside and it was not. We entered to one large room with an old elaborate bar on one wall.

I was expecting a large crowd of people but was surprised to see only five people there besides Drew. Everyone introduced them selves to each other and it was a comfortable atmosphere. I was enthralled at the patina of the place: Old memorabilia was on the walls in a random manner, while makeshift curtains and decorations lined the walls. Several of Drew's guitars were hung up high on the wall behind the bar. The bar was a beauty. It was of dark wood, with the shellacked surface blackened with age. It had wooden flower motifs adorning the surfaces. The back shelving was lined with mirrors. Looking around the room, I noticed that the wainscoting in the wall was unique. Small beads of wood at the bottom and huge vertical 12 inch wide planks ran side by side above the chair rail all the way up to what I suspected was a 12 foot ceiling lined with planking. Everything was painted white. I would have loved to see this place back in its' heyday.

Everyone engaged in small talk for a half hour or so, waiting for more people to show up so that Drew could begin. I fell in love with Drew's dog, a Ridge back named Jackson.

Drew finally pulled up his guitar case and a chair and we all quieted down. What happened next was an hour and 45 minutes of an intense performance of well written, original songs. Drew stopped between songs to discuss a few of the influences in his writing, from other songwriters and his experiences of growing up in South Louisiana. I was well versed in the names of the songwriters he admired. I have their LP records and CD's in our collections.

He started by singing the song he wrote about a poacher. I love this song. It exemplifies what many older Cajuns feel about living off the land vs. the legality of exploiting wildlife. It is a sad, haunting tale, actually a made up story Drew concocted by weaving together in his mind, many characters he had met in the past.

He played his song about the oil spill. Being very modest about the response of people who have heard it, he expressed that he did not know why people found it any more extraordinary than his song about Katrina. I said, "Maybe you don't realize it, but you say poetically, what many people feel, but can't put into their own words."

The list of songs that he played is long. He wrote them all, except for inserted verses of "You are my Sunshine" by former governor Jimmy Davis, which he invited us to all sing along, and we did!

During the evening, several other people wandered in to sit for a while, and then leave. In between songs people told stories about stuff and made comments about the songs. Some of the talk went back and forth about the oil spill.

A one point Drew started to talk about Cockfighting, and I mentioned that my father took me to cockfights in Biloxi as a child and that they served fried chicken there. One person joked, "Weren't you emotionally scarred from seeing that?" And then Drew mentioned the gumbo pot at Jay's with gumbo made from the rooster that lost the battle. Then I said," One of my favorite memories is of seeing the men carry fighting roosters onto the dance floor at Jay's Cockpit Lounge back in 1973 to dance to Clifton Chenier's music." (I think that Drew had to hear about the legendary gumbo pot from other musicians since I think it was closed down around 1977. If anybody that reads this knows when - send me a message. It is a bit of trivia I am interested in.)

BY 11:30. Drew was tired and had to stop. Some last minutes visitors showed up and people went out to smoke in the yard. Dan and I stayed in for awhile and talked to Drew about the oil spill. He showed us pictures from down on the coast that he had taken recently. Dan slipped out side while I stayed to talk to Drew. When I went out and Dan was in lively conversation with some people about education in Louisiana. I hung around a few minutes talking.

I stepped back in to say good bye to Drew, and he asked me to wait while he burned a CD for me as a gift. So, I waited while Drew opened files and he selected about 18 cuts for me. While he did this, he expressed that he did not draw large crowds when he performed and that life as a songwriter was bleak, not very profitable. I expressed that the CD we had of his was excellent. He said, that this gift CD would be a better show of what he can do. He mentioned the names of performers on the cuts, such as Richard Comeaux on steel guitar and others names I recognized.

I thanked him and we gave each other a hug and I said goodbye. I felt like I had just had a special gift bestowed upon me. I went out and we told everyone goodbye and we drove off into the night. I slipped the CD into the player and we listened in awe the music Drew had compiled for me on the CD.
It was downright astonishing to hear what Drew has recorded with the additional instruments. Dan and I were extremely impressed.

We headed back homeward driving over the Atchafalaya Basin by the light of the full moon leading the way. The swamp was well lit and enchanting looking as the light reflected off the water. We stopped at Rosedale exit to take a good look at the full moon and to stretch. Then we drove on into the night arriving back home at 1:30 am. I felt that I had just witnessed an significant performance of some of the best original songs ever. The full moon shined into my window as a reminder, as I drifted off to sleep, how special the music culture of Louisiana is..........and how fortunate I am to have witnessed so much of it in my lifetime.

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