Heart of Louisiana: Scott jams draw Cajun music scholars

SCOTT, LA (WVUE) - The tradition of older musicians teaching young people how to play Cajun music is alive and well in the Southwest Louisiana city of Scott.  On almost any Friday night you can listen, learn and join in the musical fun in a Cajun music jam session.  FOX 8's Dave McNamara takes us to Lafayette Parish and a front porch jam in Scott in tonight's Heart of Louisiana.

It looks like a tiny oasis just off the Interstate 10 exit for the town of Scott.  A duck pond, partially shaded by cypress trees and decorated with iris, sits near the entrance to the Begnaud house.  This Acadian-style home-turned-visitors-center is also a cultural gathering place for this very Cajun community.

Every Friday night, local musicians are joined by those want to be, and they spend hours two-stepping and waltzing their way through Cajun French songs.

Some of the players are in their 80s and masters of this traditional music. They sit side by side with teenagers who are eager to learn.

"It's real inspiring because they've been doing it for 70 years at least, and I'm just starting so it's kind of -  they help me and they were helped when they were young, so it's the process," said 16-year-old Jacob Leblanc.

Leblanc got hooked on the music when a cousin brought him to this weekly jam session.

"(To) this particular jam a little over four years ago, and that's when I got interested and I wanted to play the accordion because I saw someone who played the accordion and I wanted to do it too," Leblanc said.

And just like the food that's spread on the table, it's also potluck on who will join the free-wheeling performance.

"It may be somebody from France, from England, from Seattle - right there from Texas, right there from Maurice," said Begnaud house manager Angela Jean-Batiste. "We never know who's going to come, and we never know what kind of visitors we get, so that's why I believe every Friday night is a spectacular night for us because we never know who's going to show up."

One thing you will always find on the table is boudin.  The city of Scott is known for its spicy Cajun sausage and is the official "boudin capital of the world."

"We have 80 people employed by boudin in the city of Scott," said Mayor Purvis Morrison. "We have four establishments in the city of Scott that make their own boudin.  Last year 2,000,000 pounds of boudin was sold out of the city of Scott."

As daylight fades, the music continues.   The people at this front porch Cajun party are immune from the busy traffic at the interstate exit a couple of hundred yards away.  They celebrate the success of the younger players who are staking their claim to this old music.

"They say if the music dies, the culture dies with it because it's an integral part of everything," Leblanc  said. "Every time there's festivals you have to have music - get-togethers, there has to be music."

You'll see nothing but smiles and a welcoming attitude from people who are eager to sing and play, to learn and to share their town's French heritage.

This Friday, the Begnaud  house jam session takes a night off to make way for Scott's annual boudin festival.  Of course there will be live bands and lots of Cajun boudin in Scott Friday through Sunday.  For more information, click here.

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