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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Leonard Earl Johnson (photo credit Frank Parsley) covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for ConsumerAffairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, Country Roads Magazine, Palm Springs Newswire and the anthologies: FRENCH QUARTER FICTION (Light of New Orleans Publishing), LOUISIANA IN WORDS (Pelican Publishing), LIFE IN THE WAKE (NOLAfuges.com), and more. Johnson is a former Merchant Seaman, and columnist at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans; and African-American Village. Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. Winner of the Press Club of New Orleans Award for Excellence, 1991, and given the Key to The City and a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Orleans City Council for a Gambit Weekly story on murder in the French Quarter.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

More Tales of the Festivals / June 2019

Park International  /  Courtesy: Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette

LEJ's Louisiana

Yours Truly in a Swamp

A monthly e-column by Leonard Earl Johnson, 
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
 E-mail: Subscribe@LEJ.org
 Archives: www.LEJ.org  
June 2019
6 January 1923  ~  1 June 2019

© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved
NOLa to LFT to LA to SF                                          Courtesy: Amtrak.com 
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More Tales of the Festivals


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by  Leonard Earl Johnson

New Orleans is a rail head town, meaning all trains in and out terminate and originate here.  Good for on-time departures.

But, when an inbound train is next-day late, the schedule folds like a yard-sale tux (see last month's column).   

Today, we are aboard Amtrak #1, the Sunset Limited ~ West, smartly on time, high up on the tall Huey P. Long Bridge looking down at the Mississippi River.  

Great ships pass below on their way out to Sea ~ and skyscraper buildings along the bank reach up to spear tourist-filled airplanes descending to rain money like candy from Cinco de Mayo piñatas.

It is the season of festivals in Louisiana, a state that knows a thing or two about partying. 

Our next stop:
Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette.


Lafayette is nicknamed "The Hub City" of French Louisiana. 

It is where French Canadians settled after expulsion from Nova Scotia by the brutish New England British, in 
Le Grand Dérangement.

 This diaspora come-late, 1755, New Orleans had been a settlement since 1699.   It established Louisiana's second French colony ~ isolated by the Atchafalya Basin ~ with motherland ties to French Canada.


It was more than a hundred years ~ not until 1881 ~ before a railroad was built connecting Lafayette to New Orleans, and it was only in the 1960s that President Dwight D. Eisenhower's post World War Two Interstate highway system finally reached across the Atchafalaya Basin to Baton Rouge.

Prior to this, travel between these regions was cumbersome and slow, involving many water crossings. 

Festival International de LouisianeLafayette is a celebration with the stated purpose of bringing together French colonial cultures from all over the World, as expressed in music, art and food. 

Keep in mind, 

the United States ~ most surely Louisiana ~ is a celebrated part of Worldwide French colonial culture.  

Flying Balalaika Brothers

Curiously "Festival," as locals call it, also includes acts from such non-French outposts as Russia, homeland of one of Festival's perennial favorites, the Flying Balalaika Brothers, performing on Scene (French for stage) LUS International, on opening night, and on two additional Scenes during the the next three days.  

Parc San Souci  /  photo: Tom Vaught
click image for higher resolution
Festival boasts many Scenes around downtown Lafayette, along with art, craft, and food pavilions scattered among green spaces.  Also a selection of excellent  downtown restaurants, music bars, coffee shops, art galleries and museums afford comfortable indoor respite

 Three favorites ~ among the many ~ are Pamplona Tapas Bar ~ where we always find a mini-festival loose inside; 
Rêve Coffee, where lap-toppers and book-readers gather; 
and the terrific new Cloves Indian Cafe ~ with amazingly low prices and huge windows overlooking Boulevard Jefferson's
 Festival activity. 


"Open and free,
 for Joie de vie!"
L. A. Norma says, stepping off the train, in full view of Parc International, a few yards away.  It's Scene is huge and sports a proscenium painted round with the flags of French heritage countries. 

SOLA Violins  /   Photo: Anya Burgess

A block further, Parc San Souci ~ with fountain, and sculptour with the missing "y".  A half block more, at Rue Vermilion and Boulevard Jefferson is the 

luthier, Sola Violins.  
Operated by owner Anya Burgess, who also plays along with Christine Balfa, and Kristi Guillory in the popular group, BonsoirCatin  performing widely throughout Acadia, and at both New Orleans and Lafayette festivals.  Burgess, along with shop assistant, Chris Segura, are noted violin makers.

 Directly across Boulevard Jefferson from SOLA are the exhibition galleries, workshops and theaters of the 

AcA / Acadiana Center for the Arts

AcA  /  photo:  Philip Gould
A bit further, in front of the United States District Court we found SceneTV5Monde.  

Performing there where Anders Osborne, with Tiffany Lamson (founding member of the hometown-gone-world-touring, indie-pop group, the Givers) and the Belgian ~ now living in New Orleans ~ showstopping cellist, Helen Gillet.  

"It doesn't get any better than this," L. A. Norma tells a Parisian family we had met on the train in from New Orleans.

We stayed in Acadiana after Festival to accept an invitation from Floyd LeBleu, one time Lafayette High School football coach, who returned to law school at age forty, to become a Cajun barrister renowned.  LeBleu took us to his hometown of Opelousas (founded in 1720).

"Louisiana's capitol-in-exile during The War Between The States," LeBleu tells us on the thirty-minute drive north, along Interstate-49, "The Cajun Freeway."

"During the tenure of Sheriff Cat Doucet, from 1936 to 1940 and again from 1952 to 1968, the section of Opelousas along Highway 190 was a haven of gambling and prostitution, the profits from which he skimmed a take." ~ Wikipedia

We are led by LeBleu not to sin, but to seafood heaven for those who live to lunch, as we 'La do'.

 SOILEAU'S (pronounced Swallow's), at 1618 N. Main St., "since 1937,according to their card.  

"Quel repas!"
(What a meal!)

Peppers stuffed with seafood, stuffed potato, crabs, shrimps, and more. Tartar Sauce that cries to have other chef's claiming such arrested on site.  

"Bon appétit, 
venez chez Acadia!" 
("Bon appétit come to Acadia!")

LEJ.org ✍️
Photo credit:  Alyce Morgan
Corrections and Comments welcome  

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For music links scroll down to
Lagniappe du Jour, Today

For archived 
L. E. J.'s Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp  
go to www.LEJ.org

Subscribe@LEJ.org  (free)

© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
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Don't hold your breath on my figuring out le Internet.  I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer, but contact me 

if you want on the list ~ that may get e-mailed a monthly heads up. 

If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org 

They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

Lagniappe du Jour, Today  

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The Traveling Wilburys - 
Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison

 End Of The Line
(not on stage at Festival but on a train and in the spirit) 

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Givers, NPR Desktop Concert

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Flying Balalaika Brothers

Festival International de Louisiana, Lafayette

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Anders Osborne

website / music

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Helen Gillet

website / YouTube

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LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org
~ Hosted on GOOGLE Blogger ~
and periodically 
at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the
It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org
© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
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Coming July's column    

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Post date July First, 2019
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© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
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