Heart of Louisiana: Cajun triangle

You might occasionally hear the sound of an accordion coming from this vehicle inspection station in the town of Scott.  At age 87, Don Montoucet still inspects cars, but his real passion of music.

Montoucet says, "My daddy was an accordion champion player in 1921."

Montoucet says his dad didn't want anyone touching his accordion and kept it locked in a case.  But that didn't stop a young boy from getting his hands on it.

Montoucet says, "I had filed a little pin that I'd open the box, and I guess I didn't put the accordion back like it was to see. And he knew something was going on… So one day he sneaked up on us while I was just a going.  'Whoa,' he says,' now I know why he's learning so fast!'"

The big break came when a local Cajun band needed a new accordion player after the death of accordion king Lawrence Walker.

Montoucet says, "One of his players said, 'Just so you play like he did, we won't have no problem.'"

Montoucet and the Wandering Aces cut records and played dances from Breaux Bridge to Russia.    That's where Don remembers a drinking contest with his much younger bandmates, who were downing glasses of tequila.

Montoucet says, "So I got on the bandstand, the last song I played I went right on my back, never quit playing. Can you imagine? People were screaming and yelling and clapping their hands."

The crowd thought it was the floor show. Montoucet says, "I was drunk on my back."

Montoucet got another musical skill from his grandfather - he copied the design of his grandfather's triangle.  The metal comes from old rusting hay rakes he would find on farms across south Louisiana.

Montoucet says, "That's hay rake teeth. And I straighten it out to make a triangle."

The tone of these triangles became legendary among Cajun musicians.  Montoucet would heat the metal until it was red hot, then bend and bang it into shape.

He says, "It would take a while. If I remember right it would take about 250 licks to make a triangle with that big forge hammer... that's work!"

Montoucet doesn't make the triangles anymore.  Part of it's old age and arthritis. But it's also nearly impossible to find the metal that creates that special tone.

Montoucet says,  "My oldest son says one day, he says, 'Daddy, when you won't be able to get no more  hay rakes, what are you going to do?' I said, 'Well, don't you think it's time for daddy to retire?' And it became that way. It's time for me to retire, oh yes."

Montoucet can still be heard some Friday nights playing at a local jam session in Scott.  And he still inspects cars.

If you want to check out the weekly Cajun jam, it's held on Friday nights at the Begnaud House , the historic visitors center in the town of Scott.  For more information, go online to http://begnaudhouse.com/