It all came together, weather included, in fine fashion.
By Dominick Cross

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


















After all of the hype and accolades, Festival International de Louisiane lived up to and even surpassed it all during its whirlwind tour of downtown Lafayette last week. A great mix of music, art, food and merchandise, as well as absolutely the grandest weather one could ask for, made the 26th annual event one for the record books.

For those who may have missed it, on opening night, Kristi Cornell was named the Festival Volunteer of the Year. Cornell, probably the most optimistic person you’d ever hope to meet, earned the honor after 18 years of quietly going about her duties as a volunteer in her calm manner and a ready smile.

In fact, quiet is such a trait of Cornell’s that she downplayed the honor and didn’t even want to talk about it with us. She’s that kind of person. She’s doing what she wants to do. What she loves to do. You can see it in her eyes and sense it in her spirit. That’s Kristi Cornell. Congrats to you.

Here’s a look back at Festival International:

As the Pine Leaf Boys were tearing it up on stage at Scene Chevron Heritage, there was no room for anyone to dance where people usually do — in front of the band. Seems like tired people plopped their chairs right up near the barricades to sit down and watch a Cajun band perform. To sit down and watch a rockin’ out Cajun band can be sacrilegious in some circles and krewes. Little heads up here, ya’ll. That’s not a violin, it’s a fiddle. Scene Chevron Heritage ain’t Carnegie Hall, or even the Heymann Performing Arts Center — it’s a Festival International stage. Let your hair down and put your chairs up, or, if you’re tired, as some of us get to be, maybe scoot back a little so the folks can dance.

Kumpa’nia, a choreographed percussion ensemble from Quebec, was decked out in red (on Friday, anyway) and executed its shows with wit, rhythm and humor.
Beats Antiques. In a word: Wow. Wow. Wow. OK, that’s three words, but you get the point.

Pedrito Martinez Group displayed surprising sound considering the lack of a brass section usually accompanying music from Cuba.

Gary Clark Jr. showed that American rock is alive and well.

Khaira Arby and her lovely voice lived up to all expectations. A Festival treat to be sure.

Chico Trujillo did what it does best and with tons of energy, fun and zest.

Lindigo brought back the sounds, memories and energy of Festivals past.

Question: Why the hell would anyone bring a puppy, dog or any pet for that matter to Festival? Please people, for dog’s sake, leave the animal at home.

Michael Juan Nunez & the American Electric were just that ­— electric. You could run on the power and vibe the band exuded throughout the rest of the day.

FIGHTs — Total Indie pop combined with youthful exuberance that came across just as it was billed. Shades of Givers?

Over at Scene Chevy des Jeunes, Naybor’s Basement showed us that the future of rock is in good hands, at least when it’s in the hands of young Louisiana musicians. In addition, Emma May’s personal songs, that certain stage presence and her sense of deprecating humor should keep her going for years to come in the singer/songwriter realm.

Texas Tornados smooth and polished Tex-Mex and flawless at that.

A little suggestion for Scene Malibu Fais Do Do. It wouldn’t hurt to put orange plastic fencing around those cement stops in the parking lot like they do on ski runs where there’s a rock or some other obstruction that could be hazardous to one’s health. It would be especially beneficial in the dark when navigating around crowds of people, strollers and chairs. The fencing doesn’t have to take up space, just basically the width and length of the cement parking-thing/hazard and about 3 feet high. It needs to be done.

Canailles — Unpretentious, energetic, fun, original, organic and delightful. A Festival favorite by multiple accounts.


Brother Dege                                                                                                              Photo by Robin May

After another dose of Canailles in the early Sunday afternoon sun and only a hint of the Bayou Teche’s LA 31 Route de Rock, I had to literally chill out for a couple of hours and deal with getting back my long-lost Festival legs.

Rusted Root was basically what one expects from an American band with an ear on the pulse of world music. A great way to close out Festival. Too bad it has a hang-up about photographers shooting in the pit after the first three songs. Hey, this is a Festival, not a gig.

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