Cajun band spices up Mardi Gras

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To kick off the Mardi Gras festivities on campus, Jambalaya and D.L. Menard will be playing at a dance tonight in the Lee Drain Atrium. The event will begin at 8:30 p.m. and last around two hours. Student tickets, with a SHSU ID, are $5 and $10 without. Mardi Gras, historically the final day of Carnival, is the last day of celebration before Ash Wednesday. Although the holiday is age-old and well-known tradition, the Cajun culture is misrepresented by the media. “It’s an attempt on my part to help people in this area understand that what they see in the media about the Cajun culture and Mardi Gras is not necessarily the whole truth,” Terry M. Thibodeaux, Associate Dean of The College of Humanities and Social Sciences said. “Mardi Gras is a very different celebration in Louisiana than what you see in New Orleans on MTV. The Cajun culture is misrepresented a lot of times,” Thibodeaux said. “These are people that are still living down there and know from first-hand experience.” This will be the sixth year at Sam Houston for Jambalaya. The group has been playing together for over 20 years. Thibodeaux discovered the band years ago on a trip to Louisiana. “We started several years ago, six years ago now, we invited this band from Lafayette, Louisiana called Jambalaya that I had met on some of my trips to Louisiana to listen to Cajun music,” Thibodeaux said. “They’re super guys. They’re very approachable. They all have day jobs. This is their hobby but it’s also their passion.”Musician and sometimes-member of Jambalaya, D.L. Menard, has been a legend in the musical world for over four decades. His sound is reminiscent of Hank Williams, a legendary country/blues singer and friend of Menard. “Menard had a huge hit in the late 60’s called ‘The Back Door’, Thibodeaux said. “It really kind of set him up for his career and he’s been recording ever since.” Before the dance, a couple members of the band will host a small session from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Evans 105. They will play music, discuss song meaning and answer any audience questions. Jambalaya also has a presentation for the English 488 Texas Crossroads class, where they introduce students to Cajun culture and its local influences. In past years, the dance has been held in the LSC Ballroom. The new location in the Lee Drain Building is a more intimate venue. “We haven’t tried it there before but that’ll be an interesting area and hopefully the ambience for the band to play,” Thibodeaux said. “The ballroom is so large it kind of swallows you. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to try Lee Drain. It’s a smaller venue and hopefully it’ll be a little more intimate and people will be closer to the band. Here, they’ll be right out on the floor with everybody else.”Anybody interested in Cajun culture or music and dancing is invited to join. Dressing for the occasion is certainly an option. Mardi Gras beads will be present to lighten up the atmosphere, naturally without the usual “price.” “If they want to come in mask, that’s fine, or dressed up in their Mardi Gras costumes. That’s cool, too,” Thibodeaux said.