Press, NextCity.org: Lafayette Trades Oil for Cajun Songcraft to Drive Economy

Mark Falgout, who owns Warehouse 535 and popular honky-tonk The Blue Moon Saloon, was one of CREATE’s initial beneficiaries when he used the city fund to host the first stateside edition of the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation’s songwriter workshop, which this past May became the South Louisiana Songwriters Festival, or SOLO. Some of that festival’s participants performed at the Caesar Vincent concert.

“I was able to attract the foundation in because the city was on board,” Falgout says. “The city was able to get on board because I had contacts with the foundation.”

CREATE’s dollars were a welcome change for the music promoter after past experiences with the Lafayette Economic Development Authority, where requests for funding to help promote the Lafayette sound at events like Austin’s South by Southwest and music expos in Nashville were rebuffed as more of a tourism concern.

“As a community, the business leaders are starting to gather the idea that the cultural side is an important economic driver,” he says on the steps of Warehouse 535 as patrons thank him on their way out the door.

For Falgout, the first-ever local songwriting festival was not only a solid business proposition that drove customers to his venues, but also an opportunity to keep Cajun music fresh.

“If I’m going to be in the music business, it all starts with a song and that craft is being lost here,” he says. “We’re teaching [local musicians] so that once again Lafayette becomes a hub of creative, new, relevant material as opposed to just the historical context of Cajun zydeco.”

Madison Barras