A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Sean Ardoin’

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on July 3, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2407; A Landing A Day blog post number 841.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (30o 18.985’N, 93o 1.146’W) puts me in southwest Louisiana:

Here’s my local landing map:

And a closer look at my titular Lake Charles (both the lake and the city):

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Bayou Arceneaux:

A quick note about bayous.  Some are quite small, and are deemed (by yours truly) as creek-equivalent, while others are quite large and are deemed river-equivalent.  The Bayou Anceneaux (which I deemed a creek) makes its way to the Bayou Serpent (which I deemed a river).  This was my first hit for the Bayou Serpent!

As you can see, the Bayou Serpent slithers its way to the Calcasieu River (4th hit).

I zoomed back to show how the Calcasieu eventually discharges to the Gulf:

I have a decent Google Earth (GE) Street View look at my landing:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I sent the OD just a few hundreds yards north to get a look at the Bayou Arceneaux:

And here ‘tis:

See what I mean about it being creek-equivalent?

So.  I took a quick (and admittedly half-hearted) look at the little towns near my landing.  But I immediately knew, that absent an amazing hook with one of these towns, that I would feature Lake Charles.  Why, you might ask . . .

Well, there’s a man from Lake Charles (who, along with his wife and others) who I know personally.  Here’s the story:

Back in the early 2000s, Jody and I had a string of years where we went to the New Orleans Jazz Fest.  For those of you who have no clue, the Jazz Fest is a huge event, attracting many 10s of thousands of people to the N.O. fairgrounds.  Typically, the festival happens the last weekend in April (three days) and the first weekend in May (four days). 

The Jazz Fest features all sorts of music, performed simultaneously on ten (+/-) stages.  There’s jazz, gospel, rock n’ roll, Cajun and Zydeco music.  Light on folk; zero on classical.

We have a number of dear friends in New Orleans – Susan & Kelly, (parents); Rachael & Joel (kids, now adults).  Susan and Jody go way back to hippie days in San Francisco in the early 70s.  So, back in the late 90s – early 00s – we’d stay with Susan (who, at the time, lived within easy walking distance from the Jazz Fest). 

So, one year, we brought my son Jordan (age 13-14) to experience Jazz Fest.  Jordan and I were wandering around, looking for a stage to hang out and listen to music.  We walked near the Fais Do-Do* stage, which features Cajun and Zydeco music. 

* “Fais Do Do” means Cajun dance party.

Even from a distance, we heard some bad-ass bass guitar, warming up.  Slap bass, really funky.  I said to Jordan:  “we gotta check this out.”

So, the band getting ready to play was “Sean Ardoin and Zydekool.”  I had no clue who they were, or what they would do, but I knew they had a great bass player.

Well.  Sean came out, and he immediately had the crowd in the palm of his hand.  He was bigger than life, had a great voice, was full of energy (and, he had a great bass player).  His music was funky rock ‘n roll, anchored by Sean on the accordion.  I loved it, loved it, loved it.

When I hooked up with Jody and our friends at the end of the day, I said “Sean Ardoin and Zydekool” was far and away my favorite act.

More about his [former] bass player – Trip Wamsley – in a bit.  Here’s a picture of Sean at the Jazz Fest.  That’s his nephew Trey Ardoin (who we also got to know) with him.

The next year, Susan had some other house guests who also wanted to go to Jazz Fest.  They were limited to just one of the two weekends.  So, we took the other weekend.  With some trepidation, I went on line to check out the various acts for the two weekends. 

And, yes!  Sean Ardoin and Zydekool was playing the weekend that we’d be there.

Of course, we (Jody and other family members in addition to Jordan) went to see Sean at the Fais Do Do stage.  He was opposite Bonnie Raitt – ouch – but we had no doubt who’d we see.

He was great once again.  After the show, Jody suggested that we hang around and try to meet Sean.  Jody (ever the connector) led the way, and we connected.

Sean (more or less):  “I’ll be playing at Tipatina’s (in New Orleans) in just a few weeks.”

Jody chimed in (more or less): “that’s Greg’s birthday.  Greg –  wanna come back to New Orleans?  We’ll call it your birthday present.”

So, back we came, and our connection with Sean was further cemented when after the show, Sean mentioned he’d be at a music festival in Rhode Island that summer – the Rhythm and Roots festival in Charlestown.  Surely, we’d be able to come up at hang out a while.

So, up we went (from our home in NJ).  Suddenly, Jody was the unofficial band photographer, and we found ourselves hawking Zydekool t-shirts.  Our discussions went to the next time we’d see them, and Jody mentioned that she was thinking about a celebratory dance party, marking the 10th anniversary of her company, Hill Environmental Group.

Yes, the band was going to be up in the Northeast in October, and yes, they’d be delighted to play at our party.  The party, held at a historic unfurnished barn up near Princeton, was a smashing success.

And then Sean said something like, “in a couple months, we’re going to Rio de Janeiro to play at a music festival (the Jambalaya Jazz Fest) that features local bands from Rio, and bands from Louisiana.  Y’all want to join us?”

You’ll never guess what happened . . .

A quick Rio story – we were met at the airport by one of the organizers of the festival who was driving the band (and we, the “band parents”) to our hotel (on Copa Cabana beach).  We asked him how he was publicizing the festival, and he pulled out the front page of the entertainment section of El Globo, one of the local newspapers.  And there was a great photo of Sean at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, taken by none other than Jody!  We got instant street cred!

Obviously, we became friends with Sean and his wife Vanessa.  In the coming years, the band stayed at our house for all of their Northeast trips; we spent Mardi Gras in Lake Charles with Sean & Vanessa (including Zydekool playing at the Port Arthur TX Mardi Gras celebration).  That visit included the famous Ardoin family Mardi Gras dance party, where they invite 1,500 of their closest friends.  Sean & Vanessa have visited us in NJ (sans Zydekool).

We (mainly Jody and her brother Skip) put together beach party in the Bahamas (on the out island of Eleuthera) to raise money for school computers, with Sean as the headliner.

Sean calls Jody “Big Sis,” and Jody (of course) calls Sean “Lil Bro.”

So before jumping into some Sean videos, how about his erstwhile bass player Trip Wamsley (who was with Sean for several years back in the day).

Here’s a Trip Wamsley interview, with some interspersed bass solo.  He’s selling GK amplifiers, but he talks about himself and his music.  Note he’s playing a fretless bass . . .  


Here’s a piece Sean did for WXPN (Philadelphia!), where he talks about the roots of Zydeco music:


Here’s one of my favorites that I heard back in the day at Jazz Fest – “Mama.”  The song starts out a little slow (for a minute or so, but then he picks it up).  Pay attention to the accordion:


Here’s “Around the World.”  Talk about street cred!  You must pay close attention to the words at about the 1:47 mark!!!!


Wow.  You gotta listen to Sean doing Adelle’s “Hello.”


OK.  One more.  This is great:   a cover of Pharrell’s “Happy,” with great scenes of Lake Charles:


I’ll close with this GE shot by pmjparty, of a lake just south of Lake Charles:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day







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Hackberry, Cameron and Holly Beach, Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on May 12, 2014

First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48). I call this “landing.” I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near. I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Landing number 2099; A Landing A Day blog post number 527.

Dan – Oh oh. My third OSer in a row, thanks to this landing in . . . LA; 37/36; 5/10; 148.8. Note that LA has been a long time USer that recently slipped to a PSer and is now an OSer. Nothing like five landings in LA since landing 2065  (i.e., 5 out of the last 34 landings) . . .

Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows my proximity to the titular towns, Calcasieu Lake, and the Gulf of Mexico:

My watershed analysis is straightforward:  obviously, a drop of water at my landing ends up in the Lake. The Calcasieu River (3rd hit) flows into and out of the Lake.

Backing out some, here’s a landing map that shows my proximity to I-10, Beaumont TX, Port Arthur TX and Lake Charles LA:


By the way, I’ve been to all three cities: Beaumont many times thanks to my work at Mobil and the fact that there’s a Mobil refinery (uh, I mean ExxonMobil refinery)  in Beaumont; Lake Charles thanks to a friend (Sean Ardoin, a top-flight Zydeco musician who lives there) and Port Arthur, also thanks to Sean when we accompanied him there for a Mardi Gras gig (more about Sean later).

My Google Earth shot shows a watery, uninhabited piece of presumably-soggy landscape:

Backing out a little, you can see the lake and the Gulf:

Of course, I went to Wiki to check out each of the towns. There was a chilling common theme. I’ll start with Cameron:

In 1957, Cameron was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Audrey.  A storm surge of 12 feet (3.6 m) and 150 mile per hour winds caused the death of more than 300 residents of the town.

Nearly fifty years later, in late September 2005, Hurricane Rita hit the town. This time, however, virtually everyone evacuated, and only one man was reported killed in the town. He is said to have been sick and decided to stay in town for the storm. His body was found in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

On September 14, 2008, Hurricane Ike leveled Cameron with a 22-foot storm surge just as it was recovering from Rita. Ike destroyed over 90 percent of the homes in the parish seat and caused catastrophic flooding in every part of the parish. Damage due to storm surge and winds was far worse than what was seen with Hurricane Rita.  A 2010 report on the damage sustained from the effects of Rita and Ike states that few people returned to the town after the hurricanes, due to stricter building codes and high insurance costs that increased the cost of living dramatically. None of the stores have been rebuilt – only a gas station, bank, post office, and a restaurant remain (the latter two of which are still housed in trailers); most of the residents still live in mobile homes.

Here’s a Wiki shot of some of the Rita damage in Cameron:

800px-FEMA_-_39194_-_Aerial_of_storm_damange_Ike Cameron Wiki
Next, Holly Beach (where I’ll skip Wiki and go right to TheCajunRiviera.com, a property rental website):

The Perfect Cajun Getaway

Welcome to “The Cajun Riviera” a nickname given to Holly Beach, Louisiana by locals and visitors alike. Located along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Louisiana, the beach-front community as undergone a new birth. A natural disaster on September 24, 2005 changed the quality of life as we knew it. Hurricane Rita totally destroyed all of what was a great vacation get-a-way for people from all parts of the country.

Then just as Holly Beach was trying to rebuild, Hurricane Ike came ashore on September 13, 2008 re-destroyed all the hard work done after Hurricane Rita.

[I skipped some of the write-up, but much rebuilding has been done and RV rentals are also available].

So, once again, you can experience the roar of the crashing of the Gulf of Mexico waves and the pleasures of shell collecting, fishing, crabbing, swimming, people watching, and most of all just relaxing with a cold beverage. Whether you are seeking a peaceful retreat, a romantic getaway, or simply want to experience a natural wonder, you will find what you are looking for at The Cajun Riviera rentals.

Come stay with us and you will understand why Holly Beach should to be rebuilt to help preserve our Real Cajun Heritage. Check out Google Maps Street view for a real look at Holly Beach.

Of course, I went to GE and checked out StreetView.  Here’s a shot showing some of the rebuilding discussed above:

GE Holly Beach SV
Moving right along to Hackbeerry, here’s some of the Wiki piece:

The community of Hackberry was essentially destroyed by Hurricane Ike in September 2008.  Hurricane Ike’s 22-foot storm surge crawled 60 miles inland and devastated Hackberry. The small community was heavily flooded and all structures (houses, churches, buildings, etc.) were totally gutted. Flooding caused by the hurricane killed many cattle and other farm animals.

Just FTHOI (for the heck of it), here are the storm tracks of Katrina and Rita:

clean energy dot org katrina & rita

Ike’s track was a little further west than Rita’s, but Ike was a larger, more powerful storm that built up a huge storm surge to the east of landfall (obviously including SW LA):

Moving right along (from weather to music), it turns out that one of the long-time classic Cajun music groups is from Hackberry, and, appropriately-enough, is known as the Hackberry Ramblers. They were formed in 1933, and (with several personnel changes) are still around today.

Here’s a back-in-the-day video of the group singing “Grand Texas.” The song’s in French, and it’ll give you a feel for old-time Cajun music:

Keeping with the music theme, but moving much closer to my musical tastes (and my personal experiences), I’m going to head on over to Zydeco, a musical genre also centered in SW LA. Here’s just a little about Zydeco from Wiki:

Zydeco is a musical genre evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers which blends Cajun music, blues and rhythm and blues.

Interestingly, Wiki doesn’t mention that the music is part of the African-American Creole culture. While there are certainly white musicians who play Zydeco (I have known several), it’s basically a black musical genre (as opposed to Cajun music, which is generally white).

OK, OK. I have a bit of a story to tell. It all begins in 2002. My wife Jody, my youngest son Jordan and I went to New Orleans to visit our friend Susan and also to attend Jazz Fest, New Orlean’s annual premier music event.

So, I was hanging out with Jordan, wandering around from stage to stage trying to figure out what music we wanted to listen to. We were passing by the Fais Do Do stage (the venue that features Cajun & Zydeco music), and we could hear an awesome bass player warming up. I told Jordan that we’re hanging out here, ‘cause this bass player was going to be worth our time.

The bass player (one of the white Zydeco musicians I mentioned) was Trip Walmsley. The front man of the band was Sean Ardoin. The name of the band was Zydekool.

Sean’s set at the Fais Do Do stage was just great (Sean is the lead singer and accordion player), and the bass player ripped. I had a smile on my face the entire set, and declared that far and away, this was my favorite Jazz Fest musical act.

A year goes by . . .

Jazz Fest is played over consecutive weekends, and we were headed back to New Orleans to see Susan again and to see Jazz Fest again. Susan let us know which weekend as best for her. Anxiously, I looked at the schedule for that weekend to see if we’d be lucky enough to see Sean again. Bingo!

He was playing at the same time Bonnie Raitt was playing. Ouch. Jody & I would have loved to see Bonnie Raitt, but it was no contest (plus, there weren’t the huge crowds at the Fais Do Do stage). Once again, Sean put on a memorable performance. This time, Jody was part of it, and after the performance, she declared that we’d have to hang out and talk to Sean. So we did.

Keeping this as short as possible, we saw Sean again in 2003:

  • In New Orleans a month later when he played at Tipitina’s (a famous New Orleans music venue);
  • In Rhode Island later that summer when he played at a music festival
  • In New Jersey at our company’s 10th-anniversary party (he was in the northeast doing several gigs).
  • In Rio De Janeiro at a musical festival (Sean invited us, and we figured what-the-heck).

In the four or five years after that, we saw Sean many times (when he toured the Northeast, he’d stay at our house); and as previously-mentioned, we traveled to Lake Charles to see Sean during Mardi Gras.  We stay in touch; Sean & his wife Vanessa came up to visit us in Jersey just last year . . .

Just so you can see who I’m talking about, here’s one of Sean’s album covers:


I could go on and on with some more stories, but I won’t . . .

Here’s a video of Sean playing one of his early favorites, “Two Fingers in the Air.”

Here’s a great video of some two-step dancers dancing to one of Sean’s songs.  Of course, Sean & Vanessa are excellent two-steppers.  Of course, they tried to teach Jody & me how to two step.  Let me tell you, even the simplest of two step steps turned out to be beyond our capabilities. . . 

Moving right along . . . just south of my landing spot is the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Area.  Here’s a GE Panoramio shot of a gator by Tom Dudones:

tom dudones pano gator

Also in the wildlife area, here’s a Pano shot by “On^ste82”:

pano On^ste82

I’ll close with yet another Pano shot, this of Cameron Bayou by Durian Mac:

pano DurianMac sunset over Cameron Bayou



That’ll do it.



© 2014 A Landing A Day



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