For 59 years, Richard’s Club on Highway 190 near Lawtell was
ground zero for the Creole/zydeco music scene. The legendary dance hall, built by
Eddie Richard in the 1940s, originally booked touring R&B acts traveling
between Houston and New Orleans, including B.B. King and John Lee
Hooker. But Richard’s became best known as one of the main stops along Acadiana's “Chitlin
Circuit”, billing itself as the “Grand Ole Opry of Zydeco,” propelling the fame
of local legends Clifton Chenier and Buckwheat Zydeco. In the '80s, the club
helped revive the career of Boozoo Chavis and was responsible for giving current
standard-bearers like Geno Delafose and Chris Ardoin their start.
Richard’s has been dormant since 2006, when the dilapidating
building shut its doors due to dwindling business. Two years later, new owner Michael DeClouet is re-opening the dancehall, now renamed the Zydeco
Hall of Fame. DeClouet bought Richard’s soon after it shut down and has since
given the building a basic and much needed face-lift. DeClouet stresses the
building maintains it’s original character; he's kept the small wooden tables
and old 1950s bucket chairs, and there’s still no air conditioning. The club expects
to be back in full swing tonight, anticipating a packed house for its grand
re-opening weekend. Chris Ardoin & NuStep kick things off tonight. Saturday
features Keith Frank & the Soileau Zydeco Band. Sunday is the Old Time Jam Session,
from 6-10 p.m. with special guests including Roy Carrier, Willis Prudhomme, Lawrence
Blaque Ardoin, Preston Frank and Nathan Williams.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.