Everyone in Lafayette goes on vacation in July, theoretically at least. Not a summer goes by that, by Independence Day, folks grouse about the city’s looming shutdown, the point at which everyone packs it in for the Gulf Coast to wait out the heat. But the truth is, when it comes to entertainment, Lafayette never takes a break. This July, enjoy a lineup of new and old faces in new and old places. If everyone’s on vacation, then no one is.
Tuesday, July 3
Keith Frank with Brass Bed and Lost Bayou Ramblers
Image courtesy of Patrick Williams Photography via Facebook.com/KeithFrankZydeco
One thing I know about Keith Frank: He’s gonna make me sweat. I don't often talk about my band Brass Bed in the proceedings of this column, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t terrified to share a bill with the King. Keith Frank is a legend in the zydeco world and beyond. He holds status on Creole trail rides and the mainstream festival circuit alike, with a modernized take on zydeco that’s both cocksure and hilariously self-aware. A veteran of the scene for 30 plus years, he’s not stopped adapting to new musical lingos. Frank’s “Haterz” is a global phenomenon. It puts soul into line dancing; something I hadn’t thought possible of an activity most notably on view at honky tonks. Ask the Chocolate Platinum Soul Line Dance Class of Berkely, Calif., Let’s Mess Up Soul Line Dancing of New Orleans and this unnamed soul line dancing class with 300,000 views of YouTube. Independence Day is for the haterz. I’m sweatin’ it.
Saturday, July 7
Scenic World with Sharks’ Teeth
The Wurst Biergarten
Image courtesy of Kate Roy via Facebook.com/scenicworldsounds/
Scenic World’s first record Synths & Sensibility rang with promise. A youthful band with an interest in bygone synth pop and new wave, the dour dance beats of the 1980s fit them charmingly but awkwardly, like a teenager in his dad’s member’s only jacket. Even at a nascent stage, Scenic World’s arrangements were disciplined and thoughtful, displaying a knack for tickled digital synth textures and run-on, symphonic guitar lines. On the band’s self-titled follow up, out in July, Scenic World warms up its tones and dons a musical wardrobe that fits snugly and stylishly. From the get-go, pop sensibility came naturally to this group of upstarts. Now they wear it effortlessly and with substance. Check out “Sadder Eyes,” one of the best recordings to come out of the Lafayette music scene in recent memory.
Saturday, July 21
Creole Rendezvous: Gerard Delafose and the Zydeco Gators
Heymann Park Center
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/Gerard.Delafose
Zydeco scion Gerard Delafose is a standard bearer of a creole legacy. He’s the nephew of Geno Delafose and grandson of John Delafose, two outsized figures in the zydeco pantheon. At Creole Rendezvous, Gerard kicks off a new concert series celebrating Acadiana’s Creole community, a culture heralded for musical and culinary contributions to Louisiana and the world beyond. The zydeco traditions of families like the Delafoses were made for the trail rides of rural Acadiana. Set in Heymann Park, in the heart of Lafayette, the soulful, R&B grind of Gerard Delafose and the Zydeco Gators puts a new spin on country come to town.
Sunday, July 22
Kevin Naquin & The Ossun Playboys
Image courtesy of Facebook.com/Kevin.Naquin.Muscian
In my other life as a scrawler of political notes, I more commonly interact with Kevin Naquin the Lafayette City-Parish Councilman, not Kevin Naquin the 21st Century Zydecajun. Politics is about pleasing as many people as you possibly can; Naquin’s done a good job of that in two decades on dance hall circuit. Like Wayne Toups before him, Naquin’s repertoire is rangey. His Ossun-based outfit can exhilarate with breathless Cajun two-steps or slow the floor down with whiskey-sweet country ballads. In the midst of navigating a parish budget crisis as council chairman, Naquin managed to put out a stellar new record of crowd pleasers, Man in the Mirror.
Saturday, July 28
Jess Williamson with Tasche & The Psychedelic Roses, Renee Reed, Blayze Viator
It’s difficult not to draw an immediate comparison between Texas chanteuse Jess Williamson and her label mate, Welsh singer Cate LeBon. Like LeBon, her voice is big and womanly, resonating on tracks like “I See The White” like wind in a cavern. Her latest record Cosmic Wink puts drive and pulse to her metaphysical meanderings. Texturally, her music is decidedly Western. She surfs on desert dunes, ducking between tumble weeds on a lazy path to the Pacific Coast. It stops well east of Laurel Canyon, taking up impermanent residence in Joshua Tree, staring in a daze at the desert sky. Willamson’s appearance in Lafayette is the chance to see a talent on the rise.