Monday, January 10, 2011

Les Freres Michot, The Berard Family Band with D L Menard and David Egan by Patty McGehee

Les Freres Michot, The Berard Family Band with D L Menard and David Egan

by Patty McGehee on Sunday, August 22, 2010
I took off kind of late Thursday to go to the Fund Raiser concerts in Lafayette for the Gulf Restoration Network. It was hard to chose between the five concerts in the Lafayette area, but I chose to go to the Blue Moon Saloon to see Les Freres Michot, The Berard Family Band with D L Menard and David Egan. D.L. Menard is a legend and an Acadian Treasure, and he is 78 years old now and I just want to see him as many times as I can.

I contacted my friend Phyllia, who has moved to the Lafayette area to see if she wanted to go and see if I could spend the night at her place since Dan had a headache and wanted to stay home on the sofa. She said yes, so at the last minute, (about 6:30 P.M.) I was out the door to make the hour and a half drive alone. I slipped in several CD's to the player on the way and enjoyed the ride. I got to Phyllia's about 8:00 and we visited for a few minutes before heading out. Phyllia had a cool Environmentalist t-shirt on about the Oil Spill. She looked cute as a button. We headed off towards Lafayette talking about music. She knows everybody in the music business in NOLA from working at The NOLA House of Blues, but is just learning about the Lafayette music scene.

We got into the Blue Moon a little after 8:30 and Les Freres Michot were on stage playing some sweet Cajun stuff. The place was cool, considering the heat of the day. Fans were making it comfortable. There were not many people there. The songs were traditional, sung in French and very sweet. I recognized Louie up there, the fiddle player that was with The Lost Bayou Ramblers at Chico State Park in April. I was glad to see him perform again.

During the break between bands, I asked Louie what he thought about the Dewey Balfa set up at Chico. He was enthusiastic about the events he had experienced there and expressed that he would never miss it again, ever. I said, "Me either."

D. L . came in and Al Berard's Family band set up and it was a very neat show. The women in the band are so refreshing to see, since there are few women that perform these days. D. L. was beaming and enjoying himself immensely. It was a treat to see his beautiful smile and the twinkle in his eye. Al's fiddle playing brings tears to my eyes. I love it so much. His style is very old school Cajun, straight out of the 1800's. It is what I call Vintage music played now. D. L.'s voice is clear and as good as ever. I snapped a few pictures, being careful not to annoy the band. It was getting hot in there. I was sweating up a storm.

The set was over too soon for me, but I did want to see David Egan, so I went with the flow of things. During the break down and set up, I went over to get a chance to speak to D.L. I thought it would be difficult, but it turned out to be easy. I walked up and introduced myself and asked D.L. if I could have a photo taken with him. He said, "Yes, certainly," so I gave Phyllia the camera and she snapped a couple of photos.

After the photo, he said, "Where are you ladies from?"

I replied, "I live in Ponchatoula, but I grew up in New Orleans. My mother's family was from Thibodeaux and ran away to New Orleans during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1905."

D.L. said, "Ohh, I know a whole lot about that, some of my family died from yellow fever. They are buried in the family cemetery. Was your family big? I have a big family. There were 14 of us."

I went on to tell him about how large the family was. He asked me, "What was the family names?" When I said, "My Great Grandfather's name was Serephim Ford (Forgeron)," D.L. said, "I have not heard that name Serephim in a long time. That is very old fashioned."

He asked me what were the surnames of my family. I answered, "Forgeron, Hebert, and Ledet, all French speaking people." Then we had a short discussion about my family not teaching me French even though they spoke it because of the way French culture was suppressed during the 40's - 70's.

I briefly told him about my experience having Eastern Equine Encephalitis and how that had mentally connected to my family because I understood the older relatives fear of getting mosquito bites. I explained that Serephim and his boys Eddie and Emile were conscripted by the New Orleans Mayor to bury the dead across lake Pontchartrain - carried over to the mouth of the Tangipahoa River on a barge and buried in unmarked graves on the shoreline.

He said, "I can understand how you could feel that connection. I recall my relatives talking about the people dying of The Yellow Fever. " He graciously said he had to go and shook my hand and then Phyllia's hand and said, "It was good to meet you."
And I said, "It was a pleasure meeting you, too. " As he left, I was aware that I had not gotten to ask him anything about his music like I had intended to do. I felt that he was very much interested in our conversation and was genuinely interested in what we were discussing.

During the whole conversation, a reporter was snapping photos of us with a huge professional camera. That felt weird to me. I am not used to having my picture taken like that. I had a sense of what some performers must feel when being snapped at constantly. I was thrilled at being able to have met D.L. I love his music so much.

We hung around, visiting with people around the place. I was set on introducing Phyllia to people so she could make new friends in Lafayette. David Egan came up and spoke to me briefly and I introduced him to Phyllia.

We settled in for the last set of the night. David Egan with Bruce McDonald on guitar. It was really good. David got wound up playing some fun party style music. He played "Dreamer," "Spoon bread," and a killer rendition of "Let the good times Roll." The crowd had changed to a younger rowdy group of people who were whooping it up and dancing. Bruce is a wonderful Blues style guitarist. David's piano playing knocks me out.
I had a hunger to go on to the other venue when it was over to catch the All Star Jam, but Phyllia was tired for the night, so we went back to her house and called it a night....but not before telling David good night as he packed up. He looked exhausted. "This is my second show of the night, " He said. "I was at Charlie G's earlier. Tell your dear husband Dan hello for me."
I got up in the morning around 7:00. Phyllia was still sleeping, so I slipped off towards home stopping in Baton Rouge to hunt for photo emulsion for some prints I need to run next week. I had to search all over. My regular supplier was out.

I got back home in time to rest and get ready for the fireworks show in Hammond with friends. I had lots of stories to tell and I had a great time telling everyone about meeting D. L.

I got to meet D. L. Menard
D. L. Menard in action
The great songwriter, David Egan
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    • Mary Gale I love every word! You take me there. It's great reading about your family history, and that you had such a conversation with D.L. He's living history. And to top it all off, you got to hear The Dreamer, David. Thanks so much for writing and sharing this! xoxo
      July 4, 2010 at 11:17pm ·
    • Patty McGehee It is so weird. I had no intention of making that visit with D.L. about me. I feel selfish, in retrospect.
      July 5, 2010 at 6:29am ·
    • Mary Gale Remember, he asked you where you were from. Then the ball got rolling about the family: the history, the surnames. He was interested in the connections with the yellow fever. He talked about his family. It all tied with his La roots, too. I believe he really enjoyed that visit! And he used that little opening line that musicians learn on the road (even if he was home): "Where you from?" Patti, it was perfect. Enjoy the moment! I certainly did, after reading how you wrote it!
      July 5, 2010 at 9:23am ·
    • Patty McGehee He was so gracious. I felt honored.

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