Sunday, November 6, 2016

New UL Press book by Fuselier, Gould looks at south Louisiana dance halls, past and present

            Dance halls were once an essential part of South Louisiana culture, with dozens if not hundreds dotting the landscape. Today, only a handful remain. Music writer Herman Fuselier and acclaimed photographer Philip Gould document these venues — both past and present — in their recent book “Ghosts of Good Times: Louisiana Dance Halls Past and Present” by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press.
The duo will discuss the book as part of Bayou State Book Talks beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the downtown branch of the Lafayette Public Library and at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
“Ghosts of Good Times” looks at the culture of South Louisiana dance halls, how they developed from Cajun and Creole house dances, the music performed there and the traditions surrounding them. Many helped develop the popularity of zydeco or were part of the Chitlin’ Circuit R&B nightclubs, such as Bradford’s White Eagle in Opelousas that saw the likes of Ray Charles, Duke Ellington and B.B. King. Other dance halls featured swamp pop artists and country and western bands.
Many of these legendary dance halls are gone and many more falling into disrepair. Gould captures the lingering buildings, haunting photographs that are beautiful as they are sad, accented by photos of better times, such as couples dancing, musicians performing and an occasional wedding.
“Ghost of Good Times” ends on a happier note, highlighting those dance halls still in existence, places such as Fred’s Lounge in Mamou, Whiskey River in Henderson and La Poussiere in Breaux Bridge.
The book is primarily written by Fuselier, with noted musicians, historians and residents offering essays. Fuselier is a native of Opelousas, the music and entertainment writer for the Daily Advertiser and Times of Acadiana in Lafayette and a journalist who has covered the Louisiana music scene for more than 25 years. Fuselier has contributed to numerous publications, CD liner notes and been interviewed for cultural stories done by NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and more.
Gould is a cultural documentary and architecture photographer whose photography has been published in more than a dozen books on subjects ranging from Cajun culture, Emeril Lagasse, A. Hays Town, Robert Dafford to French train stations.
            The Bayou State Book Talks is an ongoing program by the UL Center for Louisiana Studies.

Vote Tuesday
Nell Richardson and Alice Burke did two remarkable things in 1916 — they drove across the country alone in a time when good roads and gas stations were hard to come by and they advocated votes for women at every stop. Mara Rockliff tells the tale, with illustrations by Hadley Hooper, in “Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles.” And yes, they actually brought a cat with them. It’s a charming book, full of whimsical illustrations, and devoid of the backlash women received during this fight for one very important democratic freedom. The author saves the facts of the suffragist movement to the back of the book, instead delighting readers with the journey of two brave women. In this election week, why not share a book about the importance of voting, a right women did not have less than a century ago.

Help libraries
When Lafayette residents head to the polls on Tuesday, they’ll have the chance to renew a parish-wide millage that funds a wide range of library services and operations. The 2.91 mill property tax millage — the largest of three library millages in Lafayette Parish — was last approved by voters in 2006 and is up for renewal at the same rate. If approved, the millage will stay in effect for 10 years and will be used to pay for collection materials such as books, ebooks, audiobooks, DVDs and more. The millage will also fund computers, furniture, utilities and library staffing. The library system does not receive sales tax money, state funding or Lafayette Consolidated Government general funds and depends almost entirely (96 percent) on property taxes collected from the library millages, so it’s essential that this millage pass to keep our libraries functioning. Funding generated from this millage will also be used for operating the new West Regional Library, which is expected to open in 2018. For more information, visit www.LafayettePublicLibrary.org.

New releases
Lafayette attorney Steven Rabalais has published a biography of Gen. Fox Conner, an influential army general of the early 20th century who has fallen into obscurity. His book, “General Fox Conner: Pershing’s Chief of Operations and Eisenhower’s Mentor,” published by Casemate Publishers of London, attempts to shed light on the Mississippi native’s rise through the ranks and his influence on better known World War I and II generals, including Pershing, Eisenhower and George Patton. Rabalais will discuss the book Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Lafayette Barnes & Noble and on Dec. 10 at Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge. For more information, visit www.generalfoxconner.com/.

Book events
Multidisciplinary artist Tanner Menard will read from his poetry, accompanied by musician Chad Viator, in a performance titled “Nullity and the Luminous Whir” from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. today (Nov 6) at Nunu’s Arts and Culture Collective in Arnaudville.
The Lafayette Public Library Foundation’s sixth annual spelling bee for adults will be Thursday (Nov 10) at the Lafayette Science Museum. Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door. Local companies or individuals interested in entering a team or sponsoring should call (337) 593-4770 or email spellabration@lplfoundation.com.
Spencer Black and Christina Bertrand will read as part of the Thursday Night Reading presented by the UL-Lafayette English Department, EGSA and Sigma Tau Delta at 7 p.m. Thursday (Nov 10) at Poets, 1043 Johnston St.
George Graham signs his new cookbook “Acadiana Table: Cajun and Creole Home Cooking from the Heart of Louisiana” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday (Nov 10) at the Bird’s Nest in the Oil Center and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday (Nov 12) at Barnes & Noble Westbank/New Orleans.
Bobbie Malone signs her new biography, “Lois Lenski: Storycatcher” at 6 p.m. Friday (Nov 11) at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Also at Octavia Books is Jeanie Three Legs and Lydia Crochet, her human companion, reading and signing of “Jeanie the Three-Legged Dog: I Don’t Need Four Feet!” at 2 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 12). Jeanie was found in a rural area outside of Lake Charles. A portion of the proceeds from her children’s book will be donated to local rescue operations in Louisiana.
The 2016 New Orleans Book Festival will be Friday (Nov 11) at the Latter Branch Library and Saturday (Nov 12) at New Orleans City Park in New Orleans. A family friendly literary showcase, the festival features both local and national writers along with live music and presentations. For more information, visit http://nolabookfest.org.
The annual Bridge to Publication Conference, hosted by the Bayou Writers Group, will be Saturday (Nov 12) at the historic Central School in Lake Charles. There will be workshops by Christian fiction author DiAnn Mills, crime-mystery author BJ Bourg, and much more. Registration is $40 for Bayou Writers Group members and $50 for nonmembers but scholarships are available. For more information, visit http://bayouwritersgroup.com/
Shane K. Bernard signs copies of “Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou” at 3 p.m. Saturday (Nov 12) at Barnes & Noble Lafayette.
Vergie Banks will unveil the animation of her children’s book, “The Journey of Little Red Tricycle Meets Gumbo,” from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday (Nov 12) at the Acadiana Center for the Arts during Lafayette’s Second Saturday ArtWalk.
The Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s annual festival and writers conference Words & Music, will be Wednesday through Sunday(Nov 9-13) in New Orleans. New and established writers will join dedicated readers in a multi-arts festival combining advice sessions for writers seeking to improve their work and get it published, and round-table discussions for dedicated readers seeking to broaden their literary horizons. The 2016 theme is The Dark Side of Literature & Life. For more information, visit http://wordsandmusic.org.
Deborah Burst will sign her latest book, “Spirits from the Bayou,” at noon Saturday (Nov 12) at the Barnes & Noble Mandeville.


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Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country.” She writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.