A fun way to hear Cajun music, and even play along if you are so inclined, is to find a jam session. The participants usually range from the older, more experienced players, to talented younger musicians, to novices who are trying to learn the songs. Dave Mcnamara found one such jam session at Lafayette’s Blue Moon Saloon.
The Blue Moon started as a guest house in downtown Lafayette. It’s the kind of place where traveling musicians sit on the front porch and play music - all kinds of music.
Over the years, the backyard has evolved into a saloon with a bar, stage and dancefloor. And on Wednesday nights, the place is filled with musicians playing Cajun music and those who like to listen and dance.
“Centrally located, hospitable, clean, a place I can meet locals and also fellow travelers, and at the end of the day, walk outside and maybe have a beer and listen to some good music,” said owner Mark Falgout.
Falgout has seen the Wednesday night jam sessions grow over the past dozen years.
“It's a lot of folks that come from out of town, a lot of locals who come here every week that's kind of their church, you know?” Falgout said. “They’ll be here every Wednesday, regardless.
Steven Cohen plays professionally in local Cajun bands. He plays the Blue Moon on Wednesdays to relax.
“I just can close my eyes and listen to the accordions and fiddles, so it's just kind of a break kind of thing,” he said.
Fiddler Hugh Robertson is from upstate New York. He was playing bluegrass in West Virginia when he heard a Cajun band. He was hooked and moved to Lafayette.
“And bluegrass was fun, but they didn't have a couple of the elements that you need for a good party” Robertson said. “And that would be drinking and food and dancing.”
Dave Markson is on vacation from Wisconsin. He brought his acoustic bass along in hopes he could experience Cajun music.
“I knew that if I did get to Lafayette that I wanted to seek this place out and hopefully get involved in this jam session,” he said.
Most of the chords are simple, so it’s a chance for the less experienced players to join in. It’s also a fun hangout in the middle of the week. There’s no charge for listening or dancing. But it’s also a tradition that keeps this unique brand of music alive as younger players take up the accordion and fiddle, and sing the songs of Cajun ancestors.
In addition to the Wednesday night jam sessions, the Blue Moon features live bands playing Cajun and Americana music most weekends.
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