The ride over was not too bad despite the guaranteed congestion through Baton Rouge. We pulled into Betty’s, hurriedly set up and made our rounds to greet all of our old friends only to discover most had gone to the Fin, Feather and Fur Festival so we hopped back into the car and headed their way.
We arrived too late for all the tastings (sigh) but we had fun seeing so many familiar faces while an auction was going on to help support the local Volunteer Fire Department. At the end of the auction Sharon and I made the rounds to the cookoff contestants and were able to sample of few of the fares we missed including the “Peoples Choice” winner’s Corn and Crab Bisque… YUM!
The next day was St. Patrick’s Day so of course we had a party at Betty’s during happy hour(s). Corned beef, cabbage and all the proper fixings were served up and enjoyed by all. It was so great reconnecting with friends such as Dan and Merlene, Jim and Nanc and Sue Jean and Dan, Susan and Dan… and of course. making new friends such as Karen and Brian from Australia!
We also made a trip over to Martin Accordions in Scott, Louisiana. where custom accordions are handmade. This multi-generation family business has built “squeezeboxes” for Cajun and Zydeco musicians all over the world for over 30 years. Betty assured all in our group this would be a unique behind the scenes tour.
As the tour began, Junior Martin told us he is the one in charge, unless his wife shows up. His daughter, Pennye a retired principal also works at the shop performing administrative duties and is the spokeswoman for the tours. Next we were introduced to Junior’s grandson Joel who once worked at the store and still does occasionally but is now a full time musician though he does play at Martin’s shop for the tours. Junior Martin was quite the musician himself as he had toured with Marc Savoy.
We learned that Junior Martin opened up shop in the mid-1970s. Today the starting price for a Junior Martin accordion is $2,700 and the price goes up depending upon any custom modifications. They use about 40 different woods and depending on which wood is selected the price can vary quite a bit. Around the shop there were cubbyholes each holding an accordion in the process of being built. The best way to spot an accordion made by Junior Martin's is their crawfish design on the bellow.
The tour of the shop was not the highlight however, because Pennye, Junior and Joel also perform for the tour groups on a small stage set up in the shop. Here Pennye educates visitors about the history of Martin Accordions but better yet, she discussing the history of Cajun Music. As she talks about some of the history the family follows it up with a performance playing some select songs reflecting that historic time in the music scene.
They played songs from the late 1800’s all the way to current times where Cajun music and Zydeco now rule. Pennye says she does this because many of the visitors have never heard Cajun music or Creole or Zydeco and therefore don’t know the differences.
What a great tour and and even better musical performance…
NOTE: This blog was published using blogger since my 400 errors came back, sorry for the formatting but until I solve how to best use this for publishing it will have to do. We are now at Betty’s RV park for a month before continuing on toward Texas…