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Events in the Louisiana program at the Festival spoke to the context created by the unique history and geography of that part of the continent, where rich forms of creolization, or cultural mixture, have flourished. Creative blending of cultural aesthetics and repertoires has also occurred in other places in our country, but in few places to as great an extent and with the public vitality of the traditional cultures of Louisiana. To hear the diversity of musical styles, to see the varied dance and craft traditions, and to taste the renowned foods of the region should all lead one to reflect on the social and environmental conditions that brought Africans, American Indians, Anglo Americans, French, Spanish and other groups together in ways that led to the rich mixtures of language and culture distinctive of "The Creole State."
The Louisiana program at the Festival of American Folklife presented the best of traditional life to show how folk cultural resources can help sustain the State in the future if properly encouraged. Previous festivals showed Louisiana folk culture primarily in terms of Cajun and New Orleans musical traditions. The 1985 Festival attempted to correct this imbalance by presenting the traditions of the entire State: south Louisiana, north Louisiana, the Florida Parishes and New Orleans
Perhaps because Louisiana as a whole still speaks with diverse and contrasting voices of tradition, the State was just beginning to recognize and support programs that conserve and promote its folk cultures at the time of the Festival. In 1985 the legislature in Baton Rouge was considering first-time funding for the Louisiana Folklife Program. The efforts of the Smithsonian Institution and other groups over the preceding 20 years through fieldwork, sound recordings and festival presentation had done much to assist the conservation and renaissance of Cajun culture. Those presenting New Orleans culture had long emphasized tourist promotion but with less attention to the conservation of what some have called "the cultural wetlands" of the city, that is, its root traditions and communities. But the cultures of the Florida Parishes and north Louisiana had remained virtually ignored until quite recently. Festival planners hoped that the celebratory mingling of all the regions and cultures of Louisiana at the 1985 Festival would bring them their due applause that could be heard back home.
Susan Levitas and Larry Deemer served as Louisiana Program Coordinators, with Kate Porterfield as Assistant Coordinator, and Nicholas Spitzer as Consultant.
The Louisiana program was made possible by the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism through the Louisiana Office of Tourism and private donations through the Louisiana Heritage Foundation.
Barry Ancelet, Ray Brassieur, Joel Gardner, H.F. Gregory, Joyce Jackson, Allison Kaslow, Ulysses Ricard, Jr., Susan Roach-Lankford, Nicholas Spitzer
Ulysses S. Ricard, Jr., Susan Roach-Lankford, Nicholas Spitzer
Barry Ancelet, Ifama Arsan, Maida Bergeron, Ray Brassieur, Joel Gardner, Joyce Jackson, Allison Kaslow, Sue Manos Nahwooksy, Ulysses Ricard, Susan Roach-Lankford, Kalamu ya Salaam, Nicholas Spitzer
Ulysses S. Ricard, Jr., Susan Roach-Lankford
Bel Abbey, blowgun, toy maker, Elton
David Allen, 1925-, walking stick maker, Homer
Rosie Lee Allen, 1929-, quilter, Homer
Barry Barth, float builder, New Orleans
Joseph Barth, III, 1951-, float builder, New Orleans
Tana Barth, float builder, New Orleans
Marjorie Wilma Battise, 1942-, pine straw basket maker, Elton
Hezekiah and the Houserockers, -- river blues -- Hezekiah and the Houserockers, river bluesJames Baker, guitar player, St. JosephHezekiah Early, 1934-, drums, harmonica player, vocalist, Natchez, MississippiPee Wee Whittaker, trombone player, Ferriday
The Ott Family, -- urban gospel -- The Ott Family, urban gospelE. L. Ott, 1936-, second lead, AvondaleElijah Ott, 1963-, tenor, AvondaleJerry Ott, Sr., 1943-, alto, MetairiePatricia Ann Roberts Ott, 1964-, tenor, soprano, AvondalePurvis Lorenzo Ott, 1961-, alto, AvondaleSolomon Ott, 1957-, bass, Avondale
St. Landry Playboys, -- zydeco music -- St. Landry Playboys, zydeco musicCalvin Carrière, fiddle player, OpelousasPhillip Carrière, drummer, OpelousasJ.C. Gallow, 1944-, frottoir player, MamouR.L. Joubert, 1935-, guitar player, OpelousasNolton Semien, 1939-, accordion player, Church Point
White Cloud Hunters, -- Mardi Gras Indians -- White Cloud Hunters, Mardi Gras IndiansCharles Taylor, 1954-, "Chief", New OrleansKeith Barnes, 1956-, "Spyboy", New OrleansTony Guy, 1969-, "Lil' Chief", New OrleansGeorge Harden, 1955-, "Flagboy", New Orleans Lionel Oubichon, "Uncle Bird", 1925-1995, New OrleansAlbert Richardson, "Al", 1913-, New Orleans
Young Tuxedo Brass, -- New Orleans jazz -- Young Tuxedo Brass, New Orleans jazzCharles Barbarin, bass drum player, New OrleansLucien Barbarin, 1956-, tuba player, New OrleansDavid Grillier, tenor saxophone player, New OrleansScotty Hill, trombone player, New OrleansAwood Johnson, trombone player, New OrleansGreg Stafford, coronet player, New OrleansJoseph Torregano, clarinet player, New OrleansMichael White, clarinet player, New Orleans
Zion Travelers, -- old-time gospel -- Zion Travelers, old-time gospelAdo Dyson, 1926-2005, first tenor, Baton RougeJames Harvey, 1937-, baritone, Baton RougeJoel Harvey, 1913-1991, bass, Baton RougeRobert McKinnis, 1953-, first tenor, Baton RougeBurnell James Offlee, second tenor, lead, Baton Rouge
Oliver Anderson, 1926-1986, tap dancer, parade marshal, New Orleans
Curt Blackwell, old-time fiddler, Covington
Clifford Blake, cotton press caller, Natchitoches
Thomas Edison "Brownie" Ford, cowboy skills, ballads singer, Hebert
Pleasant "Cousin" Joseph, old-time blues piano player, New Orleans
Issac Mason, tap dancer, New Orleans
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Smithsonian Folklife Festival records: 1985 Festival of American Folklife, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections, Smithsonian Institution.