I needed to get a Mardi Gras fix, so I set out on I-10 eastbound, and hit the Isle of Capri Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana this past Saturday night. Jo-El Sonnier and The Louisiana Dream Team were playing as part of their Mardi Gras Madness celebration. I drove for five hours, crossing the border of Texas, passing towns like Port Arthur, Beaumont, and then Vidor, which has a billboard pronouncing it was “Where The Music Began.” Evidently, they have had an inordinate amount of nationally known musicians for a town that size.
When I got to Lake Charles, I walked through the lavender doors of the casino into a neon world, with the dinging of the machines with that faintly metallic hum that all betting establishments have. Mardi Gras beads were in profusion, some of them were flashing like the pagers you get when on line at your favorite restaurant. (They made me hungry...Pavlov’s Dog at work?) Mardi Gras means gaiety is everywhere. Tomorrow comes Lent. What are you giving up? Heavens, I could give up just about everything but not music, not ever.
Jo-El Sonnier, The Ragin' Cajun, is a revelation, his music spans the flavors from Cajun to Zydeco, to traditional country, to well-chosen and sometimes unexpected covers. It is all soulful stuff, and his band smokes. He has a brand new album out called Where’s That Music Comin’ From? I was looking for video on Jo-El, and came upon something from a very eclectic TV show from way back when. Night Music only lasted for two seasons, and was hosted by David Sanborn. It amassed an amazingly diverse list of virtuosos artists creating a musically bold show.
Here is Jo-El with Richard Thompson and David Sanborn doing “Tear Stained Letter.”
- Jessie Scott
PS: I was on the phone talking to someone during my drive, who said that there were tornadoes in Louisiana, and to be careful. Had I gone further east, I would have driven through Rayne, LA, where they touched down. Our hearts go out to them.