JENNINGS – The Jefferson Davis Parish Tourist Commission and Southwest Louisiana Acoustic Cajun Music Jam are preserving Cajun culture and heritage through music.
Today, they hosted their 4th Annual Battle of the Bows Cajun Fiddle Competition at the historic Strand Theater in downtown Jennings.
”When the Acadians came here in the 1760s, the only instruments they brought with them were their voices and their violins, their fiddles,” said Southwest Louisiana Acoustic Cajun Jam board member Kenneth Lyon.
Fiddle music goes deep into the heart of Cajun culture.
It’s been played for centuries in back porch settings where Cajun musicians passed their heritage on through stories sung in French, accompanied by accordions and fiddles.
“There are a lot of what we call back porch musicians who don’t play out; they don’t play in any public forum anywhere. They just play for friends and family, and this competition has encouraged some of those, especially some of the older ones, to come out and participate,” explained Lyon.
Battle of the Bows also encourages the youth to carry on Cajun fiddle music, such as 9-year-old Owen Meche from Arnaudville, who has been playing fiddle for a year and a half now.
He’s played in several competitions and still gets butterflies when he gets on stage.
“Well, [I’m] nervous about messing up, and I was excited, well, because it’s fun to play at these things. And, it’s also fun to play the fiddle. It’s very nice,” said Owen.
This year’s competition had a strong representation of youth players from music schools that teach traditional Cajun music.
Meche has been learning the fiddle at the Brazos Huval School of Music in Breaux Bridge.
“I played “Ma Oncle Charot,” and I played the “Bayou Teche Waltz.” These two songs are my newest songs because what Braz likes to do is he likes to gives me my newest songs, like the ones I barely know, and he makes me play at competitions. So, he basically does that to make me get better,” explained Owen.
The Southwest Louisiana Acoustic Cajun Music Jam holds a biweekly playing session at Greens Café in Jennings.
It’s open to all musicians of any age and skill level with the primary purpose of preserving Cajun culture and heritage through the fiddle.