Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival to feature Cajun guitar workshop

The 42nd Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival has announced the addition of an interactive workshop entitled “Beginning Cajun Guitar,” which will feature instruction by Lafayette-based guitarist and songwriter Yvette Landry with support from fiddler Beau Thomas. The workshop will be held at 12 p.m. on Saturday, July 23 in the N-Club Room of Prather Coliseum on the campus of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. Guitarists of all experience levels are encouraged to bring their instruments. Admission to the workshop is included with paid admission to the festival. The 42nd Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival will be held, 9 a.m.-10 p.m., on Saturday, July 23 in Prather Coliseum at 220 South Jefferson Street on the NSU campus. Admission is $10 for the entire day, $6 after 5 p.m., and free for children ages 12 and under.

The workshop “Beginning Cajun Guitar” was added to the festival lineup following the cancellation, due to illness, of a harmonica workshop featuring blues musician Ed Huey. Landry’s workshop will focus on playing rhythm guitar in traditional Cajun music using open and closed guitar chords. Several traditional Cajun songs will be used as examples. The workshop will also demonstrate how to incorporate “bass runs” when changing from chord to chord in order to add bass and rhythm when playing as part of a traditional Cajun ensemble.

“Sharing music is like sharing sunshine,” Landry said. “Even on the darkest days it can bring joy. So come help spread a little Cajun sunshine!”

Landry plays a variety of instruments in bands such as the Lafayette Rhythm Devils and Bonsoir, Catin, as well as fronting her own bands, The Yvette Landry Trio and Yvette Landry and the Jukes. Her debut award-winning album titled “Should Have Known” was released in 2010 and was named Offbeat Magazine’s “Best Country/Folk Album” and Landry “Best Country/Folk Artist.” Landry has traveled the world and played countless cultural festivals and venues and toured Russia and served as a Cultural Ambassador on behalf of the Library of Congress to perform at the Festival of Traditional American Music and graced the stage at both the Library of Congress and John F. Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Landry is an educator, teaching American Sign Language and Song Writing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She has also taught bass, guitar, accordion, and vocals at notable music camps including Cajun/Creole Week at the Augusta Heritage Center and the Louisiana Folk Roots Camp. Recently inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, Landry strives to bring cultures and traditions together, ensuring that they will be passed along. Since her debut album in 2010, Landry has released four more CDs and was nominated for Offbeat Magazine’s “Best of the Beat Awards” in two categories (Best Roots Rock Artist and Best Roots Rock Album).

Thomas, born and raised on the Bayou in Abbeville, began playing the fiddle at the age of 17. With absolutely no training or musical background anywhere in his family, he immediately realized he had a gift from above. Within six months he was literally halfway around the world on a three-week tour. When he returned home, he began playing professionally and has since shared some of the largest stages with the finest world class musicians, far too many to list. Thomas plays every style of music and is most known for his unique and crafty improvisational solos. He has recorded on over 1,200 recording sessions locally and for numerous international artists. One of his latest received a Grammy award with recording artist Jo-El Sonnier. Thomas is a Louisiana State Fiddle Champion and winner of many local awards which he considers a great honor as there are so many accomplished musicians in Louisiana. His greatest joy is having the opportunity to work with virtually every artist around his home area of Southwest Louisiana.

Landry and Thomas will also perform a music set at the festival from 11:00-11:30 a.m. 

Support for the Festival is provided by grants from the Cane River National Heritage Area, Inc., the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the Louisiana Office of Tourism, the Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Natchitoches Historic District Development Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Foundation and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council.