We took a trip down to Lafayette for Festival International this weekend, an open air deal consisting of three stages across the town, along with countless market stalls and crafts exhibitions, all celebrating world music and culture. Most familiar with a number of these bands was new arrival Carsten, a friend of Steve and Debbie who had flown over from L.A. He and I got on well (we were kindred city-types amid these backward country hicks!) over his few-day visit with some in-depth film discussion/dissection (he’s in the industry) and an incredibly amusing running joke about Hollywood clich├ęs after Lafayette was flooded with rain and our sodden group wandered the streets like a rag-tag bunch of survivors in some bad post-apocalyptic B-movie.

Our other new compatriots were Tim, whose big house (it could comfortably sleep 10 if necessary, with some great art including a cool old Mexican ink-sketch) we used as a base camp and ended up spending the night, and Phil who…well, he was Phil. Completing our A-Team of concert-goers were Steve and Deb’s kids, Dave and Nick. Aside from the torrential rain which, I lamented loudly, was probably far worse weather than back home in the land of the sun – err, England – the festival was great.

Lucky Dube and the Lilt Ladies!The weather cleared up and by evening it was cool and dry for some of the best bands. My favourite was long-haired funky South African reggae artist Lucky Dube, accompanied by a group of backing singers, Lilt Lady stylee! Uplifting and soaring vocals coupled with his magnetic stage presence made this a real stand-out experience. Also noteworthy was the final act we saw, Baaba Maal. The traditionally-driven rhythmic music from Senegal had the crowd pulsating, but more haunting was Maal’s unforgetably mesmerizing voice.

In the morning we stopped off at Lake Martin, a beautiful swamp-lake with some mean looking aligators. It could have offered some incredible photographic opportunities, but was marred a little by the weather which still broke into a rather British drizzle at regular intervals. Back home by the evening, I cooked pancakes for the first time, and since Carsten’s plane was delayed by the poor weather, we finished the day with a serious Scrabble marathon session . Frickin’ American spellings. The pilgrims were clearly dyslexic.