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October is Folklife Month

Louisiana honors its culture bearers

October is Folklife Month

Photo by Cedric Angeles

Katrice LaCour.

October 2020 marks Louisiana’s sixth annual Folklife Month, a celebration of the state’s living traditions and the individuals who sustain them. Organized by the Louisiana Folklife Commission in partnership with the Louisiana Folklore Society and numerous community partners, Louisiana Folklife Month is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. This year’s events will honor six tradition bearers selected by local folklorists and other cultural workers; the recipients share a record of continuing and exceptional accomplishment in perpetuating the state’s traditional cultures.

For more information about Louisiana Folklife Month and the effects the COVID-19 pandemic may have on events, please visit louisianafolklife.org.

Rick Adams, Singer-Songwriter

Alexandria

Rick Adams.

Rick Adams is a central Louisiana musician who has played guitar and written songs since he was twelve years old. For the last twenty years, Adams has been active in the music community, performing locally and regionally in two bluegrass groups and becoming a founding member of Reverend Charley’s Patent Medicine Show. This eclectic folk group has recorded two albums to date, featuring songs frequently referencing Louisiana’s distinctive cultural landscape. In addition to his ensemble and solo performance work, Adams supports and encourages other songwriters at venues throughout the state, participating in songwriter festivals such as Third Street Songwriters Festival in Baton Rouge and the Mississippi Songwriters Festival in Ocean Springs. He is presently working on his third solo album.

Katrice LaCour, Zydeco Musician

Natchitoches

Katrice LaCour, a long-time resident of Natchitoches, leads the zydeco band The LaCour Trio. LaCour’s passion and dedication to zydeco stems from his Creole heritage: “I was always told ‘know where you come from and know who your people are.’ In everyday life, whether I’m teaching kids or performing, I always try to incorporate my family heritage and culture into whatever I’m doing. Every culture is unique and passing that along to others is the best way to keep it alive.” Aside from playing music professionally, LaCour has taught orchestra for the past eleven years at the Northwestern State University Elementary and Middle Lab Schools in Natchitoches. In 2019, students in the program performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Bogalusa Italian-American Club, St. Joseph’s Day Altar Tradition

Bogalusa

Bogalusa Italian American Society

The first wave of Sicilian immigrants came to Bogalusa in 1905 to work in the lumber industry. Over time, Italian-American families helped define the culture of Bogalusa, which included a devotion to their patron St. Joseph, who is credited with breaking a severe drought that hit Sicily in the Middle Ages. For the past forty-six years, the Bogalusa Italian-American Club has prepared an altar to St. Joseph and educated the public on the tradition of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest. The altar, bearing decorative breads, cakes, Italian vegetables, redfish, and flowers, reaches the ceiling. Members of the society represent saints in a pageant while the community joins in the feast of pasta, vegetables, bread, wine, and Italian cookies. The group currently has twenty-six active members and continues to keep the St. Joseph Day altar tradition alive for future generations.

Grayhawk Perkins, Choctaw/Houma Nation Storyteller, Educator, and Musician

Mandeville

Grayhawk Perkins.

Of Choctaw and Houma Nation descent, Mandeville-based Grayhawk Perkins is a lifelong storyteller, educator, and musician. He has worked for more than twenty-five years as a cultural coordinator for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where he helped spearhead the creation of the Native American Village, an interactive venue showcasing tribal crafts, food, music, and dance. Perkins is also one of the last speakers of Mobilian, an ancient trade language once used in the Gulf South. In 2012, Perkins launched a collaborative musical project toward preserving the endangered language. Partnering with the French quartet known as Mezcal Jazz Unit, he recorded Thirteen Moons, an album blending blues, funk, and jazz with Native American tribal rhythms and themes.

Goldman Thibodeaux, Creole Musician

Mallet

Goldman Thibodeaux. Photo by Zack Smith.

Goldman Thibodeaux is one of the only musicians performing la-la, the precursor to zydeco that emerged in the early twentieth century in small towns in St. Landry Parish. Thibodeaux and his Lawtell Playboys make regular appearances at festivals and events across the state, including the Northwestern State University Folk Festival and the Cane River Music Festival, as well as at his annual church bazaar at St. Ann’s in Mallet. He has taught at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia, part of the college’s Appalachian Studies programming for students of all ages in American traditional music, dance, craft, and folklore traditions. Ensuring his musical lineage continues, Thibodeaux is teaching his music to his grandson Brock, starting with the frottoir and ’tit-fer (washboard and triangle).

Lawrence “Black” Ardoin, Traditional Creole Accordion Player

Lake Charles

Lawrence Ardoin. Photo by David Simpson.

Lawrence “Black” Ardoin, a great-nephew of Amédé Ardoin, is the musical link between traditional Creole music and today’s zydeco. Born in Duralde, Louisiana, to a sharecropping family that supplemented its income with music, Ardoin filled in as a drummer for Louisiana legend Canray Fontenot and eventually took his father’s spot in the band. After becoming an accomplished accordion player of the “old sound,” he expanded his repertoire to include other native genres like swamp pop. Ardoin is a retired machinist, and that income supported his band through much of his thirty-eight years on the job. Ardoin now operates Habibi Temple, most famously organizing the zydeco showdown between Beau Jocque and Boozoo Chavis. Today he plays with his son Sean and Andre Thierry with Creole United.