Tribute to D.L. Menard, Erath Fourth of July Celebration, July 2, 2017
Note: D.L. Menard died July 26, 2017, at the age of 85 after a long illness. It's hard to imagine him gone: he was so full of life, even in a wheelchair at the final performance with his family shown in these photos. His eyes sparkled when he smiled and joked with the crowd. It was a transforming experience to hear and watch him tell stories in a uniquely emphatic Cajun voice accompanied by broad gestures with his hands and arms through which he shared his inexhaustible vitality with everyone. His song “La porte d’en arrière” is the true Cajun National Anthem. He wrote many other wonderful songs. His music and his performances were always honest and heartfelt, an extension of who he was, full of love and joy that enriched the lives of everyone he encountered.
“C’est pas de la pluie qu’après tomber, c’est juste les anges qu’après pleurer.”

Erath, the home town D.L. Menard, honored the 85-year-old legendary Cajun musician with a tribute July 2, 2017, as part of Erath’s annual Fourth of July Celebration. D.L. opened his set during the tribute by singing “La porte d’en arrière” on a stage situated one block south of the location of the filling station where, 55 years ago, he wrote the world’s most famous Cajun song. Jotting down lines during breaks while pumping gas and fixing flat tires, he composed the words to “La porte d’en arrière” in 30 minutes.

For the tribute performance, D.L. was joined on stage by three of his children and seven of his grandchildren, along with Terry Huval and Reggie Matte of the Jambalaya Cajun Band. The band also opened and closed the show.

Before D.L. performed, artist Tony Bernard presented him with a large portrait. A print of the painting was also on sale after the show. Erath Mayor John LeBlanc read a proclamation making July 2, 2017, D.L. Menard Day in Erath, and he also presented D.L. with a key to the city.

In his introduction, City Councilman Robert B. Vincent, president of the Erath Fourth of July Celebration Association, recalled D.L.’s explanation that the initials in his name stand for “darn lucky.”

Dr. Barry Ancelet, retired folklorist and French professor from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, told the crowd that “La porte d’en arrière,” not “Jolie Blonde,” is the true Cajun national anthem. The song, which has sold more than a million copies, has remained popular since its initial release in 1962. Today it is covered by just about every Cajun band performing in Louisiana.

Prior to my arrival in Erath, the Acadian Museum, located near the stage, opened a new exhibit, “Revisiting the Life of D.L. Menard—The Cajun Hank Williams.” For some excellent shots of that event and of the tribute performance taken on stage, check out the photos by Missy Rosa on the Fourth of July Celebration’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/erath4thofjuly/. The Daily Iberian also had a good story about the event: www.iberianet.com/news/menard-honored/article_1ab736c8-5f...

For a listing of Cajun and Zydeco bands and Mardi Gras photos included on these Flickr pages, go to www.cajunzydecophotos.com or www.cajunzydecophotos.com/mobile.
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