It was an honor to have Louisiana creole accordionist Joe Fontenot perform in my American music class at UCSD last night. Joe was born in the town of Mamou, Louisiana and grew up in a French-speaking home before moving to Los Angeles for work. I met him in 2015 at San Diego’s Cajun/Creole music festival Gator By The Bay. My own jug band had inexplicably been invited to perform and after we finished, as I was packing up I noticed an elder gentlemen with a heavy accent, old-school button accordion, and a particularly handsome Stetson hat setting up for the next act. I knew immediately that I needed to stay for his set and was not disappointed.
Last night, almost a year after Gator, Joe came down to UCSD’s La Jolla campus joined by guitarist Carolyn Russel share his music and stories of growing up in rural Louisiana, his occasional travels to the bayou regions, his Savoy accordions, and even treated us to a spontaneous and unexpected performance on the harmonica. A wonderful time!