Facing the Music
From larger arenas to intimate clubs to outdoor festivals, acadiana residents have lots of options for experiencing great live shows.
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444 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette • 337/265-2100
Back in the day, music fans in Acadiana had two choices when craving a glimpse of big-name headlining acts: Go to New Orleans, or go to Houston.
Those days (thank goodness) are long-gone thanks to Lafayette’s Cajundome. Within the past three years, the Cajundome has welcomed rap superstar Lil Wayne, teeny-bopper sensations Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, country standouts Brad Paisley and Hank Williams Jr. and the legendary Elton John.
The cool thing about the Cajundome is that although it’s a basketball arena, it’s a college basketball arena, meaning the scene is a lot more intimate than an NBA or NHL venue. Usually, the stage is backed up against Sections 200 to 204 at one end of the court. Floor seats are obviously prime real estate, but sections along what would be the basketball sideline provide great views of the stage, as well.
Grand Opera House of the South
505 N. Parkerson Ave.
Crowley • 337/785-0440
This impressive second-story opera house was built in 1901 for the handsome sum of $18,000. Such names as Babe Ruth (yes, that Babe Ruth), Enrico Caruso, Clark Gable and Huey Long graced this stage before it closed in 1940. In 2004, the Grand Opera House underwent a $4.5 million renovation and officially reopened as a 501(c)(3) organization. Live music acts are often booked here, along with dramas, comedies and children’s events.
Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center
346 Civic Center Blvd.
Houma • 985/850-4657
With a crowded calendar full of events such as wedding receptions, high school graduations and something called a bus safety seminar, the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center doesn’t consistently offer up live music. But when it does, it’s one of the most underrated large venues in Acadiana. The beauty of this building is the massive floor space – 37,000 square feet for those keeping count. With that much room, nobody should get turned away at the door. Plus, it makes for an expansive dance floor with plenty of elbow room.
L’Auberge Casino Resort
777 Ave. L’Auberge
Lake Charles • 337/395-7777
A bit of an explanation: The stage at the L’Auberge du Lac isn’t necessarily grand, but the venue is. Unlike some of its Acadiana casino brethren, L’Auberge doesn’t have a massive indoor music stage, so management improvises by setting up an outdoor stage in the resort’s Pool Island area. This spring, L’Auberge featured a three-day concert series with favorite cover bands The Chee Weez and The Molly Ringwalds. The casino also welcomed an Asian music act and plans to continue offering diverse music tastes for its patrons. When the weather gets cold, live music can be enjoyed in the cozy confines of the Jack Daniels Bar – an intimate 165-seat setting.
Paragon Casino Resort
711 Paragon Place
Marksville • 800/946-1946
Operated by the Tunica-Biloxi tribe, the Paragon is undoubtedly the entertainment jewel of northern Acadiana. There’s something here for everyone: gaming, dining, family fun, Louisiana history and culture. Oh, there’s also great live music. Bigger acts generally play in the Mari Showroom. Recently, the Paragon has attracted the likes of The O’Jays and country stars Big & Rich. In the past, legends such as Loretta Lynn and The Beach Boys graced the Paragon stage.
Cypress Bayou Casino
832 Martin Luther King Road
Charenton • 800/284-4386
What are you in the mood for tonight? Cajun? Zydeco? Country? Jazz? R&B? For those who can’t make up their musical minds, the best bet is to head to the Cypress Bayou Casino – which offers, for lack of a better phrase, a sampler platter of live performers. With five bars/clubs on the property, the Cypress Bayou does an excellent job of offering musical diversity. And for such a remote location, the Cypress Bayou has attracted national stars such as Lionel Richie, ZZ Top and Dolly Parton throughout the years, along with local favorites such as Jamie Bergeron, Travis Matte and Wayne Toups.
Rosa Hart Theatre at the Lake Charles
900 Lakeshore Drive
Lake Charles • 337/491-1256
Located on the south end of the massive Lake Charles Civic Center, the Rosa Hart Theatre offers an aesthetically pleasing setting for concerts. With a fixed capacity of just under 2,000, even balcony seats offer a tremendous view of the stage.
200 Park Ave.
Eunice • 337/457-6577
As far as second acts go, good luck trying to top the Liberty Theater in Eunice.
This historic downtown building, found on the corner of Park Avenue and Second Street, originally opened in 1924 and attracted headliners such as Tex Ritter and Roy Rogers.
After falling on hard times, the Liberty Theater was resuscitated in the 1980s thanks to a massive restoration project. Since reopening its doors, the Liberty has been the home of Rendez Vous des Cajuns – Acadiana’s answer to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.
432 N. Main St.
Jennings • 337/821-5509
The calendar of events at the historic Strand Theater (it’s been around since 1933) is primarily dominated by a community theater group, though they do sometimes surrender the stage for live music acts. Easily, one of the best “shows” at the Strand is the annual Cajun Squeezebox Shootout Accordion Championship, where awards are given to the top musicians in the youth, junior, adult and professional divisions.
Lamar-Dixon Expo Center (Swamp Pop Music Festival)
9039 St. Landry Road
225/621-1700 or 225/769-9994
www.lamardixonexpocenter.com or www.swamppopmusicfest.com
The Swamp Pop Festival – a celebration of this indigenous genre of music that’s equal doses of Cajun, zydeco and blues mixed with a pinch of rock ‘n’ roll – is held in the middle of July at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center. And before you ask: Yes, the place is air-conditioned.
The only thing cooler than the setting for this festival is the story behind it. It began it 1998 as a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis. Each year, this particular festival has grown with more patrons and more bands, but it’s never wavered from its philanthropic purpose.