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Friday, August 7 • 8:45pm - 9:35pm
Dennis Stroughmatt et L'Esprit Creole - French Creole

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Albion, Tennessee
Cajun/Creole Fiddle

Originally from southern Illinois, Dennis Stroughmatt grew up in the shadow of the French Creoles of Vincennes, Indiana, where he was introduced to local French music. Dennis's great-grandfather Benjamin Stroughmatt was a fiddler and the first fiddle his son (Dennis's grandfather, Chancy Stroughmatt) gave to Dennis when he was 17 (apparently won in a card game around the turn of the 20th century) had belonged to Benjamin, a barn dance fiddler who lived most of his life working on the Mississippi, Wabash, Ohio, and Illinois rivers from Muscatine, Iowa, south to Memphis, Tennessee and beyond.  His family were "house boat" people, nomadic for three generations, traveling the rivers and working — anything from fishing, to mussel shelling, moonshine, cotton, and music.  Chancy was born in 1904 and lived until 1998, so Dennis spent a great deal of time with him growing up, learning about the songs his great-grandfather played. 

While attending college in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Dennis became involved with the French Creole population of the Old Mines area. He spent about three years attending weekly house parties or "bouillons," learning to speak Creole French with many Creoles in the area including Kent Beaulne and Pete Boyer, and learning to play the fiddle styles of the Missouri French. He also recorded old-timers' oral histories and uncovered scratchy wax cylinder recordings.

Wanting to learn more about American French music and culture, Dennis moved to Lafayette, Louisiana. There he worked and interned at the Vermilionville Folklife Village, where he increased his fluency in French (though more dialectically Cajun) thanks to Blanche Quebedeaux and Evelyn Goller, and spent countless hours with Cajun and Creole master fiddlers including Faren Serrette, Black Allemand, Canray Fontenot, and Merlin Fontenot.

Dennis ultimately returned to Illinois to complete a Masters of History at Southern Illinois University, and soon after, attended The University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, Canada where he was awarded a Certificate in Quebec French Language and Culture in the fall of 1999.  After returning to the United States he worked with Louisiana-based Cajun groups such as Sheryl Cormier and Cajun Sounds, The Acadian Aces, The Bayou Teche Band, and Creole groups The Ardoin Family Band, The Morris Ardoin Creole Trio, and Dexter Ardoin and the Creole Ramblers. He currently focuses most of his time and energy with L'Esprit Creole on the French Creole music and language of The Illinois Country, the old upper Louisiana colony of Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana. 

According to the Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture, the word Creole comes from creare (Latin for "to beget" or "to create"). Portuguese colonists called New World slaves of African descent crioulo, which was eventually applied to all New World colonists living along the Gulf Coast, particularly Louisiana, regardless of ethnic origin. The Spanish introduced the word as criollo, and from the late 1600s to the early 1800s, the word evolved to Creole, and generally referred to persons of African or European heritage born in the New World.

The history of the French Creoles was not isolated to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, however. It made its way up the Mississippi to Illinois and Missouri over three hundred years ago. The Creole Corridor of the Mid-Mississippi Valley consisted of approximately a thousand square miles of the Mississippi River Valley, from Ste. Genevieve and Kaskaskia north to Cahokia and St. Louis. Along the Wabash and Mississippi River corridors, they remain today with their songs, stories and language.

http://creolefiddle.com/creolefiddle.com/Home.html 

Performers
avatar for Dennis Stroughmatt

Dennis Stroughmatt

Originally from southern Illinois, Dennis Stroughmatt grew up in the shadow of the French Creoles of Vincennes, Indiana, where he was introduced to local French music. Dennis's great-grandfather Benjamin Stroughmatt was a fiddler and the first fiddle his son (Dennis's grandfather... Read More →


Friday August 7, 2015 8:45pm - 9:35pm
MAC Stage 300 M.A.C. Ave

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