Heart of Louisiana: Swamp Pop Reunion
VILLE PLATTE, La. (WAFB) - This unique south Louisiana music had its heyday in the 1950s and ‘60s. And in the city of Ville Platte, they still celebrate their swamp pop music.
For 16 years, these aging Louisiana music legends have been getting together once a year and singing their hit songs. It’s the music their audience grew up dancing to and listening to when they were teenagers.
“We do this to honor these wonderful people who created this wonderful genre of music,” said Sharon Fontenot.
Fontenot runs the Swamp Pop museum in Ville Platte and organizes the annual reunion concert.
“We do it to preserve the music, and we do it hopefully to pass it on to the next generation so that swamp pop music will never be forgotten,” said Fontenot.
This music filled the old dance halls that dotted the south Louisiana landscape a few decades ago. Musician Kenny Tibbs stayed busy working for Chevron during the day and singing swamp pop at nights.
“Most of us had daytime jobs, but we play music at night. And I can remember playing every night of the week. Sometimes two jobs on Saturday nights at two jobs on Sunday,” said Tibbs.
Swamp pop evolved from rock and roll and New Orleans blues musicians like fats domino. And when young musicians along the bayous and Cajun prairie heard this new sound, they put down their fiddles and accordions and added the piano, electric guitar, and a horn section. Singer Johnnie Allan still gets his fans excited when he sings some of his popular songs. He’s one of those artists who switched from Cajun to swamp pop.
“I could hear the winds of change flowing down. The of bayous of Louisiana, definitely rock and roll was the in thing that was going to be the music of that time,” said Allan.
Throughout the evening, there are occasional breaks in the concert. When memorial plaques are handed out to the families of swamp pop musicians, those who are no longer with us who helped create this uniquely Louisiana sound more than 60 years ago. One of those honorees is the late Phil Phillips, who scored a top hit with sea of love.
“If you knew my dad, you knew that he loved his fans, and we appreciate that you are continuing to keep his legacy alive,” said Ethopia Kennison, Phillips’daughter.
It’s a night of singing and dancing of friendships and memories with songs that define a generation of south Louisiana teenagers.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the music and Ville Platte’s Swamp Pop Museum.
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