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By Carol Evans
2VS Program Director 

Mais Oui! Prepare for a Bit of French, A lot of Music and Maybe Some Dancing!


September 28, 2017

Photo provided

Dennis Stroughmatt and the E'Sprit Creole will play at Seeley-Swan High School Oct. 8 at 3 p.m.

SEELEY LAKE - Dennis Stroughmatt and L'Esprit Creole (Don't call it Cajun!) will be bringing foot stomping, hand clapping music to our valleys Oct. 8 (note date change!), 3 p.m. at the Seeley-Swan High School Auditorium. Because this visit is as much about history and culture as it is music, we're pretty sure everyone will find it interesting-and lively.

The description of the trio includes "fingers and bow flying, Dennis Stroughmatt takes listeners on a musical odyssey not so different from his own musical journeys into Upper Louisiana Creole culture." Taught to play fiddle by local Creole fiddlers, Stroughmatt is now the authority on this regional pocket of American antiquity.

A vibrant blend of Celtic, Canadian and Old Time sounds, this unique music bridges gaps between contemporary Canadian and Louisiana Cajun styles. Their songs, stories and language remain largely intact and true to the traditions that have been passed down for generations.

Originally from southeastern Illinois, Stroughmatt was taught to play fiddle by Missouri Creole fiddlers Roy Boyer and Charlie Pashia in the tradition of their fathers. He became an adopted son of the French Midwest Creoles who settled near St. Louis, playing at weekly house parties or "bouillons." His journeys also included French studies in Louisiana and Quebec, and he now finds himself in a unique position as one who can speak knowledgeably and play in a variety of French styles. He has an innate sense of what is needed to get an audience on their feet, and keep a band on its toes. The musicians are passionate ambassadors of Creole music and traditions, expanding interest and excitement in a region that has been ignored by the history books.

Beginning in 1699, French colonists from Western France and Quebec merged with the native populations of Illinois, Missouri and Indiana to create a Creole culture that is still unique from its cousins in Louisiana and Canada.

The concert program will take the listener on a fascinating trip through The Illinois Country from both a historical and modern perspective, highlighting the enduring French identity, through ancient French folktales, haunting ballads and foot stomping fiddle tunes. The students in Seeley Lake, Condon and Potomac will have an opportunity to hear the stories and music from L'Esprit Creole Oct. 9 and 10 as the group travels to each school for outreach programs.

We encourage parents and others to attend the outreach programs as well. There may be cooking tips, history lessons or French lessons included in the school programs. Stroughmatt is knowledgeable on so many levels but his prized vehicle is the traditional French Creole music.

Hope to see you at the concert, and at the schools!


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