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Monday, August 1, 2011

Les Bon Temps Rouler at Pequot Library

Les Bon Temps Rouler at Pequot Library:
Cajun musician Papillion 
entertains families Friday night
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to 8/1)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Southport, CT – One of the most devastating hurricanes the United States has ever experienced led to his doing permanent annual gigs in the northeast and, on Friday, July 29, the performer was visiting the area again.

Papillion, billed as a Louisiana musician and storyteller, was the attraction at Pequot Library in Southport this past Friday evening when the institution presented a Cajun and Zydeco program on the great lawn. Several adults and their young children attended, sitting in chairs or blankets and enjoying a picnic dinner as they listened to the guitarist strum away and relate stories about his rich Bayou history.

Ironically, if it had not been for Hurricane Katrina’s unwelcome visit in August 2005, and the total interruption it caused in his capacity to earn an income in his home state of Louisiana, Papillion may not have come up to this area at all.

“It blew me up here,” the bearded, 40-ish looking Southerner said. “I had presented a workshop in the Ansonia area, in the spring before Katrina, and made good connections there. A few weeks after Katrina came through, the directors called me and offered assistance where they could. They flew me up and booked me at preschools, elementary schools and libraries, and that just lit the match in terms of my getting a foothold in the Northeast.”

Now the musician comes up three times a year for three weeks at a time. He stays in an apartment/guest room at the Julia Day Nursery School in Ansonia, which has been provided to him annually free of charge since Katrina.

Papillion said his Cajun music is very much about family and celebrating that experience. “I do stuff about life, values, matters of the heart, grandparents,” he said. “It’s for all ages – there are multi-levels in what I share. Kids rise up to sophisticated themes.”

Papillion explained that he was born and raised in French Louisiana, as were his parents, grandparents, etc., and that many of his song themes are built around his family history. “My way-back ancestors, whom we call ‘Acadie’, came from Canada – Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.”

Local audiences here in Connecticut have given Papillion a very warm welcome he said. “One of my best indicators is when I am playing Fais Dodo (the Cajun Dance) and see Connecticut mommas and papas and grandparents all dancing with their babies,” he added.

Children’s Librarian Susan Ei said the Cajun format fits well with library programming. “Our summer reading theme is ‘One World, Many Stories,’” she said. “There are many stories in our own country and the Cajun aspect is one of them.”

There was no question families were enjoying the presentation. Fairfield mom Erin Russell, with husband Bill (Pequot Library’s board president), four-year-old daughter Maggie and twin one-year-old sons Henry and Edward, said, “I can’t think of a better way of spending a Friday night than listening to Cajun music.”

For more information about the performer, visit