(Check back to learn about the 2012/2013 Residency)
2011/12 Songwriting Residency
During the Spring 2012 semester the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Chair for Traditional Music presented its first-ever songwriting class at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Professor Mark DeWitt invited accomplished local songwriters to share their experience and knowledge with the class of budding songwriters. The guest artists helped students with their songs in progress as well as presented lessons on lyrics, phrasing, composing and creativity.
The outcome of the class was a concert of students and guest artists Sam Broussard, David Egan, Yvette Landry and Nathan Williams. The artists performed original songs from their repertoires in the Comeaux Chair Songwriter Showcase on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm, Burke Theatre in Burke-Hawthorne Hall. Each of the guest artists performed individually or with other songwriters. Never before had all of these artists performed on the same night.
Guitarist and songwriter Sam Broussard is a solo artist and also a member of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. He brought to class two lines and challenged the students to come up with two more lines that rhymed, complemented the first two lines and created dramatic tension. After several attempts and several trips to his dog-eared rhyming dictionary, Broussard was satisfied with the next two lines. He then asked, "What's this song about?" A response came from a student that delighted Broussard and then more ideas poured forth on the white board.
Songwriter and pianist David Egan, has toured with bands Filé and Jo-El Sonnier, and has written songs performed by Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball, John Mayall, among many other performers. His latest album is entitled, You Don’t Know Your Mind. Egan emphasized that it is more important to keep writing than to wait for the perfect song to appear. He led the students through a session of putting music to lyrics written by their peers.
Multi-instrumentalist Yvette Landry, is a member of Bonsoir Catin and Lafayette Rhythm Devils and the Yvette Landry band. Her CD, Should Have Known, recently won Best of the Beat, OffBeat Magazine’s "Best Country/Folk Album" and "Best Country/Folk Artist" of the year. Her mission in class was to show the students what it means to pay attention to detail when writing a song. Students were asked in small groups to develop a song about a parking lot. At the end of the session, they listened together to "Out in the Parking Lot," a song written and recorded by Guy Clark and Darrell Scott, whose level of songwriting craft was immediately clear to everyone present after completing Landry's assignment.
Accordionist, pianist and 2012 recipient of the Zydeco Music Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award, Nathan Williams Sr. has led Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas for a quarter century. He showed students the demo recordings of some of his songs-in-progress on his smart phone that he uses to work on songs when on the road. He invited students to jam with him and led them through his own music as well as zydeco standards. For many of the students, this was their first attempt at playing zydeco. They learned about song form and about the importance of the ability to communicate their music to other musicians.
The Songwriter Showcase was Sponsored by The Dr. Tommy Comeaux Endowed Chair in Traditional Music and The UL Lafayette Concert Committee.
BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet in Residence at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
March 21 – 26, 2011
Multi Grammy award-winning band, Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet, were in residence on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus from March 21 – 26 as part of the first year of programming by the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Endowed Chair of Traditional Music.
Band members worked with student musicians on campus individually, in master classes and with ensembles. They also worked with dance students, music media students and were interviewed in the KRVS studios for future radio broadcast and for archival purposes.
The highlights of the week included a concert by Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet on Friday, March 25 at 7:30 pm in Ducrest/Gilfry Auditorium in Angelle Hall. Tickets were $10 (free for students, faculty and staff).
The band performed selections with the UL Lafayette Symphony, Michael Blaney, conductor, in the second half of the show with arrangements by Danny Devillier.
Free and open to the public was a Cajun-Bluegrass Flatpicking Guitar Summit with guitar masters David Doucet (of BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet) and David Sonnier (of the Louisiana Purchase Bluegrass Band) on Wednesday, March 23, 7:30 pm, Angelle Hall, Room 153.
Mark DeWitt, current holder of the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Endowed Chair of Traditional Music, hosted a free symposium open to the public on Friday, March 25 from 1:30 – 5 pm, Angelle Hall, Room 153. This event included a public master class featuring performances by the newly formed Traditional Music Ensemble, coached by members of BeauSoleil, followed by roundtable discussions with additional musicians (including Wilson Savoy, David Greely, Joe Hall, and Kristi Guillory) and all those in attendance about goals and future programming for the traditional music program on campus. UL research scientist Tommy Michot and faculty members Istvan Berkeley, Ray Brassieur, John Troutman, May Gwin Waggoner, and Robert Willey concluded the afternoon with their visions of the future of traditional music research at the university. The public was invited to attend.
These programs were part of the College of the Arts 5th annual Festival of the Arts. The 2011 SPARK Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet at a Gala Festival Finale on Saturday, March 26 at Dupre Library.