SWLA Cultural Notes from Jim Phillips, President of The Attakapas Historical Association:
Some of our good friends and neighbors are working hard to foster Acadiana culture in Evangeline Parish. Inspired by having several years of The Dewey Balfa Heritage Camp & Festival held in the beautiful hills surrounding Chicot Lake, locals just could not give it up when The Louisiana Folk Roots moved the camp and festival to Lafayette. Thus, the inaugural celebration of “Le Grand Hoorah!” was born on April 10 and 11 of 2015. The organizers believe their hard work and efforts mark the beginning of a new era of cultural preservation in Acadiana. Set in the idyllic environs of Evangeline Parish’s own Chicot State Park just north of Ville Platte, Louisiana, “Le Grand Hoorah!” has been launched as a “party with a purpose”.
Let’s read about “Le Grand Hoorah!” from the PRAIRIE HERIGATE INC.’S literature:
Not content to be just another throw-down that will leave you glad that you have Sunday to recover, the “Hoorah!” promises to bring together the most dedicated and fun-loving torchbearers of Cajun and Creole culture in an effort to create and foster relationships focused on preserving the music, food, language and folk arts of the people of Acadiana; all while celebrating our heritage with a multifaceted event that is sure to raise the bar for festivals in Louisiana. The “Hoorah!” of course boasts some of the best music and food around, but also camping, hiking, boating (motorized and kayak/canoes), fishing, and fun for the whole family.
“Le Grand Hoorah!” is sure to be an event you will look forward to every year, but even after the last breath of accordion bellows in the last brush of the fiddle bow; after the last clank of the spoon on a cast iron pot in the quenching of the coals; the fun may be over, but the work will continue. “Hoorah!” and it’s not-for-profit parent organization Prairie Heritage, Inc. will utilize money raised at the festival to fund programs throughout the area that continue to support our unique culture all year long. Projects to benefit initially will include French immersion programs such as the one held at Chataignier Elementary headed by Les Amis de Français de la Paroisse Evangeline, and a flagship apprenticeship program spearheaded by Prairie Heritage, Inc. that will pair young cultural enthusiast with masters of a cultural art to encourage and facilitate the passing of the torch from one generation to the next.
Prairie Heritage, Inc.
719 West Magnolia St., Ville Platte, Louisiana, 70587
(337) 363 – 2193
Esprit du Coeur (Linda Castle on the left and Tina Pilione on the right) plays music from the French speaking regions of Southwest Louisiana, in a style that predates the introduction of the accordion into Cajun and Creole French music. Twin fiddles: one playing lead; one playing rhythm, low lead, and harmonies. The second fiddle pulses the rhythm and dances with the soaring melodies that tell the stories of love, loss and life.
Inspired by the great guitarist and Cajun fiddler Al “Pyook” Berard, with whom both Linda and Tina were fortunate enough to play with while he graced this earth, Esprit du Coeur feels his presence at every performance. “Peace on Earth…and Love!”
Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Tina Pilione (fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass, accordion, steel guitar) has studied and played with Cajun fiddle masters Wade Fruge, Dennis McGee, Dewey Balfa, Cheese Reed, Doc Guidry, Dick Richard, Tony Thibodeaux and others. Tina has over 25 years experience teaching fiddle, guitar and accordion and playing with various Cajun dancehall bands in SW Louisiana. In her spare time she builds accordions at the Savoy Music Center in Eunice, LA and raises and trains border collies on her ranch in Richard, LA.
Linda Castle, fiddle and vocals, started playing Cajun fiddle in 2001 and hasn’t looked back since. She’s studied with a multitude of Cajun and Creole fiddlers including Mitch Reed, Al Berard, and Ed Poullard, to name a few, and got her most recent chops playing twin fiddles with Al Berard every chance she could get. Linda is thrilled with the opportunity to dive deeper into the twin fiddle repertoire and style with Esprit du Coeur.
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Editors: Sue Schleifer, Sally O. Donlon, Jim Phillips Consultant: Shane K. Bernard