NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Sometimes our family interests or talents can skip a generation. That’s what happened to Cajun country music legend Vin Bruce of Lafourche Parish. It was his grandson he finally shared the stage with, and 10-year-old Benjamin Bruce is now carrying on his grandfather’s legacy.
“This song is about, like, how my grandfather is watching over me and how, like, I started the music and all with him,” Benjamin said.
The song is called “In My Grandfather’s Eyes.” It was written for Benjamin as a tribute to his grandfather, Vin. Vin started recording Cajun favorites in the 1950s and performed at the Grand Ole Opry. He died a few months ago.
None of Vin’s five children played music. It wasn’t until Benjamin came along that he had someone he could tutor.
“Benjamin started when he was about 2-and-a-half years old,” said Aline Bruce. “He says, if that's what you want to do, he says paw is proud. He just showed him a few notes, and he learned by himself.”
Aline would watch little Benjamin take the stage with her late husband.
“There was no person that was perfect in music,” Aline said. “That's why he had always told Benjamin, he says, ‘If you make a mistake, don't stop playing music. Nobody knows you're making one.’”
“If I would miss up on one of my keys, he would say, ‘Stop right there,’” Benjamin said. “He wanted me to do it right all the time.”
Benjamin recalls the first time he stood by his grandfather on stage. He was shy at first.
“He would say, ‘This is my grandson, Benjamin.’ And after, everybody would start clapping, and I would, I would hide my face with my hands,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin said he’s no longer nervous when he performs. He leads a band through some of his grandfather’s favorites on a Sunday night at La Casa Mexican Restaurant near his home in Cut Off.
“It gives me, like, a little pep in my step, and it gives me a pep in my voice, too,” Benjamin said. “I'm hooked on it now, and I know that like, now, now I gotta do it now because I'm popular.”
It’s an old-time country style of music that Vin Bruce mixed with Cajun lyrics. And before failing health forced him to put down his guitar, he had successfully passed on a love of these songs to his grandson.
“He says, ‘You know I can't do, I can’t play guitar anymore. And I can't sing anymore.’ That was the days when he was - he had to quit,” Aline said. “But he says, ‘I think that God took what I had and gave it to Benjamin.’”
And those old Cajun country classics still bring couples and their smiles to the dance floors.