011819 Scott H. Biram/Durwood, Lafayette, LA

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After enjoying countless trips to New Orleans, my first excursion outside of Louisiana’s largest city was an unqualified success.  It began on January 18th, 2019 after I had endured an excruciating self-inflicted car-rental fiasco at the Louis Armstrong Airport (I had accidentally booked the car with the wrong credit card),.  M’lady and I gathered the wherewithal to brush it off as a much more minor inconvenience than it actually was – ain’t nothin’ gonna steal our joy – and soon enough (okay, two hours later) we pointed our brand new Jeep towards Lafayette.

As we drove out of New Orleans I got my first appreciation for how impenetrable the geography is.  The highways are built on raised concrete slats supported by thousands of massive girders that plunge into the murky depths below.  Nobody touches the ground, it was like a scene out of Ray Bradbury’s Sound of Thunder.  Heck, there is no ground.  Below the highway and on both sides of it lie nothing but swamp and forests growing out of swamp.  There would just be no walking through the stuff, and no boating either save for the wide, straight swaths that have been cut through the mass thicket of trees to create navigable pathways.

I guess it was a half-hour or more before the highway hit terra firma and we left the swampy bayous behind us, and about another ninety minutes later we pulled into Lafayette and drove straight to the Blue Moon Saloon.

It’s not that I was hankering for a drink – though it was five o’clock somewhere and that somewhere just happened to be Lafayette at the time – no, the reason we went directly to one of the city’s many live music venues is because the Blue Moon was also an inn of sorts, and I had booked us into one of their four rooms for the weekend.

And I was pretty excited about it too!  Guests were granted free entry into the bar and given one drink ticket per person per night taboot.  Add to that the fact that getting to and from the show was just a matter of walking up a flight of stairs and, well, let’s just say I was pretty happy with the perks that came with staying at the Blue Moon.

The show downstairs was a one-man band from Texas called Scott H. Biram though we weren’t completely taken by his act.  That said, we were in fact 100% completely taken by the opening band, a four piece alt-country conglomeration called Durwood.

But first, a word or two about the venue itself.  The Blue Moon is a house that has been mildly renovated to create a bar out of what was essentially the back porch, and a very interesting bar it is, too.  One could be easily fooled into thinking that the covered and walled-in bar is not outside, but it is indeed outdoors.  It is enclosed (somewhat) by raw wood walls that don’t quite reach the roof, and the roof itself is merely a slanted and grooved piece of tin that stretches out from the large back deck – which serves as both stage and dancefloor.  Walking around the corner in either direction away from the stage/dancefloor one would soon find themselves out-of-doors without actually going through any doors.  Which tells me that the “inside” of the bar is actually outside.

But right now what’s important is what was going on inside the bar, which in this case was the aforementioned band, Durwood.  They were a four-piece: guitar/vocals, bass, guitar, and drums, and they were great.  Like, great.  Not only that, but from his very first warm-up note I knew (quite correctly, as the next hour would prove) that the guitar player was going to be fantastic.  He was a country picker and he never, ever ran out of ideas.  And the singer was also great, and he sang great songs, and the drummer was super-solid, and the bass player was perfect.  I liked ‘em, yes I did.

And so did the sizeable crowd, each one of them hippies and scallywags, ie: my kind of people.  After two or three songs a girl decided to break the invisible line around the dancefloor and started dancing with herself.  Soon a short, unique-looking guy standing in front of me ambled up next to her, moving a little.  He caught her eye and gave her a subtle, questioning look, eyebrow raised in query.  The girl casually nodded back and just like that they started doing a wonderful, fully choreographed dance that everyone ‘round them parts seems to know.  It was a fun shock to see the two of them effortlessly promenade in and around each other like they had been doing it for years, which I guess they had, just not with each other.  Anyway, it was awesome, and just as much fun to watch as the band.

Speaking of the band, they persisted in being fantastic throughout their entire set.  By the time the singer gave his last mockingly over-the-top “Thank-yew!” I was a fan, and I will continue to be one.  I sure hope I get to hear something of theirs again someday.

(I drunkenly spoke to the drummer after the show and discovered that he is one of Melvin Seals’ drummers – Melvin uses four different drummers depending on what part of the country he is touring in – and he’s played on a few Grammy-winning albums too, so like I said, super-solid.  He mentioned that he brought the guitar player to the band, whom he described as the hottest guitarist in the state, and I believe him.)

During the changeover between acts we happened upon the proprietor/manager/guy-who-had checked-us-in-and-given-us-beer-tickets.  He was at his post for the evening – which was the gate in the front yard – where he sat charging the cover charge for the bar.  He was a nice talkative guy but we were most in awe of his cat Catorce, named so because he was found on the 14th hole of a golf course.  The reason we were in awe of Catorce (aside from our overt interest in cats in general) was how he obediently and impossibly laid on top of the pizza box that the dude was using as a cash box like a furry paperweight.  Every time someone paid the cover charge the dude would lift up the pizza box lid and deposit the money (and often fish out change).  Meanwhile Catorce would be laying on the lid looking every bit like a dead thing until he would casually reach out a paw and hold onto the side of the lid to keep from slipping off.  Once dude finished the transaction and closed the box Catorce would let go of the lid and immediately return to playing dead.  It was quite curious to watch.

We saw it happen several times, and as owners/proprietors/managers of a genuine scaredy-cat back home, a cat that would never stand for…er…sit for such jostling, well, we were completely in awe of Catorce.

Bottom line: Lafayette is a cool place that seems rife with good music and interesting characters, and Lafayette’s Blue Moon Saloon (and Inn) is a microcosm of same.  Highly recommended.

(Somehow I didn’t mention dinner; all these years later I still think of it often.  On m’lady’s suggestion we walked to a nearby spot called Pop’s Poboys where I had one of the top twenty best meals of my life: a roast beef debris poboy with blue cheese cole slaw on the side.  Blue cheese cole slaw!!!  My goodness, it was all so, so divine.  Despite a myriad of wondrous culinary options in the area I went back to Pop’s again the following night and ordered the exact same thing, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time.  I wish I was there right now.

That’s Pop’s Poboys, corner of Jefferson and W. Convent in Lafayette, Louisiana.  Highly recommended.

You can read more about the meal – and about Durwood and the Blue Moon and everything else – here.)

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