Sharing the food, music, culture, and history at the heart of Cajun & Creole Country.

Rien Fertel

I’m a Louisiana-born and based writer and teacher.

My most recent book, out September 2022, is Brown Pelican, a human history of the very best bird.

I’ve penned three earlier books. The Drive-By Truckers' Southern Rock Opera, #133 in Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series, about a road trip based on a recent classic album about a road trip. The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook the Whole Hog, a personal/historical reflection on race, labor, and foodways in the Deep South, came out in 2016 from Simon & Schuster's Touchstone imprint. My first book, Imagining the Creole City, an intellectual and literary study of a circle of writers in nineteenth-century New Orleans, arrived in 2014.

I've written for Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Men's Journal, The A.V. Club, Pacific Standard, Southern Living, Saveur, The Local Palate, and many other print and online publications. I write the Lost Lit column for 64 Parishes, Louisiana’s official arts and culture quarterly magazine.

In addition to the freelance life, I’ve carved out a small niche in the teaching world. I am currently a Visiting Professor of History at Tulane University, and hold a PhD in History from Tulane and an MA from the New School for Social Research. I have taught courses at the University of Mississippi, Loyola University (New Orleans), and Bard Early College New Orleans, and have taught yoga classes at two juvenile jails in the New Orleans area, in addition to a reentry program for formerly incarcerated teens.

I call New Orleans home, and live part-time in a 100-plus-year-old church in St. Martinville, Louisiana.

Swamp Pop Music

Swamp pop represents, according to its foremost historian, Shane K. Bernard, the cultural collisions of “Cajun and Creole, black and white, French and English, rural and urban, folk and mainstream.” Sharing affinities with rhythm and blues, rock and roll, country and western, and rockabilly, swamp…

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Creole Music

An early 20th-century precursor to zydeco, la-la music melds indigenous American, African, European, blues, nascent rhythm and blues, and Louisiana Creole and Cajun traditions to form a popular genre that is both provincial and unmeasurably influential. Primarily associated with Black Creoles of…

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Zydeco Music

Zydeco is a continuously evolving Louisiana music genre that blends elements of many Black American folk and pop styles, including blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz, rock and roll, soul, funk, hip-hop, and rap. Though scholars surmise that zydeco contains deeper historical roots in West African…

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Cajun Music

Cajun music is a central component and marker of Cajun identity and culture in southwestern Louisiana. Largely accordion and fiddle based, and mostly sung in vernacular French, Cajun music has foundations in Indigenous American, African, German, Irish, Anglo-American as well as Francophone folk…

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The po-boy is Louisiana's most widely eaten homegrown sandwich. Similar to the hoagie or submarine, the po-boy — variously spelled poboy, po'boy, or poor boy — is culturally representative of its city of birth, New Orleans, and the regions where it is most commonly consumed: southern Louisiana and…

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Acadiana Musical Families

Marc Savoy Born in 1940, in the Acadian prairie town of Eunice, Marc Savoy remembers seeing and hearing a local tenant farmer named Hiram Courville play his accordion from his front porch each night. Marc not only longed for a “music box” of his own, but wanted to understand Courville’s deeper…

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