“We were Cajuns when Cajun wasn’t cool,” said Mrs. Floyd Sonnier, above. “My husband was a fierce Cajun. “Floyd (now deceased) was known as the artist of the Cajuns. As a child, he picked up bits of charcoal from the fires and drew with them. Pen, ink, and charcoal brought to life the people and places he loved.
His grandparents above…his daughter as a child below. He published two books and has a website:
Clarence Junior Martin is a famous accordion maker. He builds 150 a year, his nearest competitor and friend, Mark Savoy builds 26 and the next guy builds 7. He was making accordions when accordion wasn’t cool, that is, anywhere but Cajun Country. His daughter Penny, explained how embarrassed people would be, and the flak and teasing they took because they played an “outdated” instrument! Shucks, now the small accordions Martin makes, (which sell for $2400 and up) are the centerpiece instrument of Cajun and Zydeco Bands. Its called a melodeon and is most closely related to a harmonica. It arrived in Southern Louisiana with the German immigrants in the 1800’s. A former builder and cabinet maker, Martin started building accordions and never looked back.
Martin’s daughter, Penny is a school principle by day and plays guitar, triangle, and bass with the family. Martin plays his favorite, steel guitar. “I can’t compete with my grandson, (on accordion) he’s better than me,” he proudly claims. Raised around his grandfather’s shop all his life, Joel wasn’t interested in accordion until age 7. He suddenly discovered its appeal when a kid his age was playing with one. Joel has two CD’s out and has written a couple songs. ( Joel’s father, recently deceased, also played in the family band.)
Most of the great Cajun bands, (like Richard LeBouef above) can be seen using Martin accordions with his signature crawfish on the bellows. Don’t miss Martin Accordions if you visit Lafayette.
Another cool place was the only Borden’s retail ice cream shop in the United States. We stopped for a cool scoop because, Borden’s was always cool!