Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Red, White, and BOOM! Lafayette

I did something yesterday that I've never done before. 

I played on stage with a 60 piece orchestra!

Photo courtesy of Daniel Sanda
Yes!  The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra.  But before I go any further, I must give you some background information.

Last week, in an effort to preserve zydeco music, I taught my educational program, "Zydeco from A-Z" to approximately 25 kids at the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra headquarters. 

We gathered the kids together and taught them:
  • what zydeco is
  • how it started 
  • what instruments are used 
  • how zydeco got it's name 
  • the difference between Cajun and Zydeco 
  • and demonstrated zydeco dancing
Then we broke off into groups, each band member took their group to a classroom to teach about their particular instrument.  Each day the groups rotated and learned about each instrument in a zydeco band.  They even got to play!

Now, fast forward to the event "Red, White, and BOOM!" organized by the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra.  An event held downtown that spread out over a three park setting to accommodate all ages.  Our park, Parc International, had the traditional patriotic music, hot dog eating contest, and such (I attempted the watermelon seed spitting but laughed too much to enter the contest). 

From what we saw, this event was highly organized with an abundant supply of volunteers.  Particularly well informed and helpful volunteers, from a band's perspective.  We didn't even have to get our own water!  

 Photo courtesy of Daniel Sanda

We played a 45 minute set, took a break, then joined the orchestra for a three song performance.  Our song list was Movin' on up, Cisco Kid, and My Zydeco Shoes.  The stage felt energetic, intense, and very full!  Anybody that knows me, understands how much I love horns, but this was ridiculously awesome!  I had every horn you can imagine and a full string section... Absolutely amazing!  

Photo courtesy of Daniel Sanda
Earl having fun "directing" the orchestra!

On our last song, we invited the kids from class to join us on stage.  Each kid had an instrument to play.  Accordion, Washboard, percussion instruments.  The older kids played bass, guitar, and drums.  We were so glad to see the smiles on their faces (and the parents that rushed the stage to take pictures).  I was so enthused having the kids on stage, that I forgot to end the song at the appropriate time!  Oops...

Photo courtesy of Shelley Lynne

We enjoyed teaching this group of kids, and what a payoff at the end of the week for all of us!  I wish ALL of the kids from class could have made it and had a front and center view of the entire performance.

For me, that's what this music is about.  Bringing families, cultures, and communities together regardless of age or background.  That certainly was accomplished by pairing a zydeco band with a full 60 piece orchestra.  

Do you have an amazing 4th of July story?  Do tell....

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