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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 34.0° F  Fair
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MUSIC

Sconnies in Cajun country, Part 4: Exposure at the Louisiana International Music Exchange

Madison must see the Red Stick Ramblers.
Madison must see the Red Stick Ramblers.
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Note: This is part of a series of posts from Andy Moore, who is in Lafayette, Louisiana, this weekend to attend the Festival International de Louisiane where he will find and book artists to perform at Madison festivals. He'll be filing updates through Sunday, April 26.

Part 1: On the plane to Lafayette
Part 2: Belly up to the buffet
Part 3: Early in the morning at Lafayette's Blue Moon Saloon

Okay okay I know already. 80 degrees in Madison today. That's exactly what it was here in Lafayette. I'm happy for you. I'm happy for me, too. I spent the afternoon inside Lafayette's air conditioned Cite des Arts building. It's a cool old urban building renovated to house social and cultural events in town. It's like the Goodman Center with an exclusively arts intention and a small theater inside.

This is the site of the annual LIME presentation. LIME stands for Louisiana International Music Exchange and the afternoon is all about showcasing Louisiana musicians before a gathered throng of festival organizers and journalists. We rode to LIME in the festival shuttle van with Jo Lazzeti who represents the Arts Minister of Brazil. She had heard of La Fete de Marquette which was fun. The LIME music was great but so was the free food. Crawfish enchiladas, sausage and chicken gumbo, catfish bites. Oh I want my Mommy it was so good.

Record labels set up tables of swag and literature in rooms adjacent to the theatre and invited guests are encouraged to exchange business cards for CD's, stickers, press kits and the like. I felt like a bit awkward, able to talk sincerely about booking shows with only a small handful of prospects. I only took away a couple of CDs because of that. Others stuffed their LIME (green) cotton carrying sacks until they overflowed and belched compact discs over their sides, sending them clattering onto the polished hard wood floor.

Six full bands played three song sets in the main theater. While bands changed over in the theater soloists played in the dining room. Joe Hall and the Cane Cutters feature Hall on the 10-button diatonic accordion. Hall's accordion was built by Larry Miller of the famed Bon Tee Cajun Accordion Company. Hall's fiddle player is Blake Miller, Larry's grandson. Hall's drummer Jay is Blake's first cousin and is now the lead builder of Bon Tee Cajun. Hall looks to the ceiling during "J'ai Ete au Bal," and braces himself for the drastic key change during the mid-section of the song. This is a cool cajun trick, the chord changes and it has the effect of turning the page of the story in the song and, for the listener, giving the same physical thrill one gets in a roller coaster dip.

Soloist Chaz Landry sang a great song about a pro wrestler known as "J-Y-D" he watched on TV with his mom growing up in Baton Rouge. The wrestler was one of the rare black performers on the circuit and, in setting up the song, Landry spoke about how J-Y-D worked hard to improve civil rights in those days by "ripping through people's asses."

Kristi Guillory is the tornado-strength lead singer and accordion player for the Lafayette-based band Bonsoir Catin. The four-woman ensemble takes the two-step and dials it high with intense harmonies and hard charging fiddle. We have them signed for the Sunday of the Waterfront Festival , June 14.

The afternoon closed with the audacious Red Stick Ramblers, a band Madison must see. The Sugar Hill recording artists claim to play "everything Louisiana is known for" which is a ballsy boast. They pull it off in no small part because of guitar savant Chaz Justus who sat in last night with Feufollet at the Blue Moon. The Ramblers headline the Blue Moon Saturday night. We're there.

Final thought as the sun sluices through the humid blue horizon here in cajun country. It's a thought about the tough nature of the music business, a hard way to live no matter where a musician works. "Exposure" is a big word you overhear at places like the LIME event, as in overhearing promoters trumping up the fact that their festivals will "provide good exposure." This is code for "we can't pay much."

My friend and photographer David Hecht said this reminds him of a great quote he heard from Clyde Stubblefield who, when a smooth talking booker talked about exposure. "Exposure is great," the promoter said. "Yeah," said Stubblefield. "And you can die of exposure."

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