We quit writing about music in 1995 but once in a great while we feel moved enough to post a music-related piece.
D.L Menard is coming to town.
“The Cajun Hank Williams” (an appellation bestowed upon the man by journalist Bob Norman in 1973) takes the stage at the big Cajun-Zydeco Festival at Louis Armstrong Park this Saturday, June 24th 2017 at 5:45pm
Mr Menard was born in Erath, Louisiana (Vermillion Parish) on April 14th 1932. As a child, Menard experienced music the way thousands of kids did: by listening to the “border blaster” stations out of Del Rio, Texas. These megawatt channels rode over every station that tried to get in their path and could be heard for hundreds of miles in any direction.
Menard woodshedded with an $11 Montgomery Ward guitar before joining Elias Badeaux and the Louisiana Aces. If you were in a dancehall in Louisiana back then you were fortunate to see Papa Bear Suire, Badeaux, Coon Touchet, Joseph Lopez and young D.L tearing up stages with a sweat-soaked group of Cajuns ripping across the dance floors.
That original outfit ruled the Louisiana roost for 15 years before falling apart in 1967.
Those early years were lean for Menard. His most famous song “The Back Door” was written on breaks while he was working at Primeaux’s Phillips 66 service station. He wrote it in English because he didn’t know how to write in French-only sing. His parents were amazed the first time they saw him perform a song in French. It was Grand Texas or Big Texas. That cut would go on to become one of his most famous.
After the Aces broke up, D.L kept right at it playing festivals and touring the US and the rest of the world. To keep his family (seven kids) on firm ground Menard traveled up to Magnolia, Arkansas to learn how to make custom furniture. He’s made thousands of chairs since then and in some circles is just as famous as a builder as he is a musician.
D.L Menard has come a long way from his days as a teen-aged cane cutter for the Erath Sugar Company. If you’re smart you’ll be in Armstrong Park on Saturday to see one of Louisiana’s greatest musicians command the stage.