Heart of Louisiana: Town of Gueydan

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:50 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A Cajun two-step is irresistible for some of the couples at this Saturday morning jam session in the Gueydan Museum. The museum is located on Main St. in a 1902 Bank Building. For the past few months, Gueydan has been showing off its deep roots in Cajun Music.

“I had no idea the depth and expanse of musicians in history that we have in this town,” said museum volunteer Cathy Hair.

Hair put together this exhibit. It features instruments and photographs of some of the earliest Cajun musicians. You can see their fiddles, the triangle, and three accordions from the 1800s.

“I like hearing about history. I always tell them it’s not the item, it’s the story behind it, that’s what’s always interesting.”

Hair points to these white pants worn by one of the original, Acadian expatriates to settle in the area. Charles Hebert wore them for his wedding in 1802.

“They’re over 200 years old and every male member in the family that’s gotten married had worn these pairs of pants,” said Hair.

But today is about the music, musicians, young and old show up to play at the monthly Saturday jam session. Nellis Pio Saltzman leads the group and belts out the lyrics in Cajun French.

“The stories they tell you know of life and how much of a misery it was them days to make a living and try to support your family. But they would sing about it and make it better,” said Nellis Pio Saltzman.

Salzman’s son, Adam sits next to him playing the accordion, and the other players show up. Like 19-year-old Lukas Meaux who started his own Cajun band. He sings in French, even though he doesn’t know the language.

“I try to sit down with my grandma every now and then and talk to her and I say, ‘Am I saying it right?’ ‘Yea, you saying it right.’ I’ll make sure I’m saying it right first cause I don’t want to go play a dance and some old people come up here and start fussing at me, beating me up, ‘Hey you saying that wrong,’” said Lukas Meaux.

Lynn Segura and her husband, Dale were the first to dance today, they met dancing to Cajun music, 30 years ago.

“I told him, I said, ‘Honey, you haven’t lost your touch, and this is fine. We have to start dancing again,’” said Lynn Segura.

This musical exhibit goes through the end of the month, but in mid-August, they have another exhibit that will open that features this area’s connection to ducks. Gueydan calls itself, the duck capital of America, it’s part of this small town’s history, and it’s personal stories that are shared along with the music in this old building on Main St.

For more information on Gueydan and its Cajun music, go to HeartofLouisiana.com.

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