May 30, 2003 American Folklife Center Presents the Cajun Band, Charivari

Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
Public Contact: (202) 707-5510
Contact: Concert takes place at noon, June 18, on Neptune Plaza.

Cajun music will resound from Neptune Plaza at noon on June 18, when the American Folklife Center presents the southwest Louisiana band, Charivari, regarded as one of the finest Cajun bands playing today. Neptune Plaza is located at the west front of the Library of Congress' Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., in Washington, D.C., and the concert is free of charge and open to the public.

This outdoor concert is the third in this year's series of concerts, "Homegrown 2003: The Music of America," monthly presentations of traditional music and dance, which are drawn from communities across the United States and arranged with the help of state folklorists.

Co-sponsors of this concert are the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington. The American Folklife Center's "Homegrown" series is the grassroots component of "I Hear America Singing," a Library of Congress project celebrating America's music, which will be available on the Library's Web site later this year.

Charivari (pronounced "shah ree-va ree") takes its name from an old Cajun custom in which the friends of newlyweds throw a loud, raucous party at the home of the new couple on the night of their marriage. Charivari captures the spirit of this custom both in the fire and drive of their music, and their adherence to old-time down-home Cajun music.

The five-piece band is led by fiddler Mitchell Reed and singer and guitarist Randy Vidrine, who have collaborated to compose some of the group's most compelling material, which they mix with traditional waltzes, two-steps, fiddle tunes and Creole songs. Charivari's combining of traditional Cajun and Creole styles has created a fresh new sound that opens new musical ground, while staying true to its musical and cultural roots. The group has several recordings on the Rounder label.

"Cajun," a corruption of "Acadian," refers to the culture and people of southwestern Louisiana who settled the prairies and bayous west of the Atchafalaya Basin in the 18th century, after their expulsion from Canada by the English in 1755 in what is known as the Grand Derangement. Over the next 150 years, many other groups-Native Americans, Spaniards, Creoles-sought refuge in this isolated and inaccessible region, creating a unique and vibrant culture with French as the primary language. Over the past 30 years, Cajun culture, particularly the music and the food, have found an avid following all over the United States and around the world.

The inclement weather location for the concert is Coolidge Auditorium, on the ground floor of the Jefferson Building. Metrorail stops at Capitol South (orange and blue lines) and Union Station (red line) are the closest to the Library of Congress.

Subsequent Concerts in the "Homegrown 2003" Series

  • July 16
    The Minnesota Scandinavian Ensemble and Becky Weis: Nordic music
  • August 20
    Robert Turner and the Silver Heart Singers: Gospel music from Indiana
  • September 18
    TBA: National Endowment for the Arts 2003 National Heritage Fellow
  • October 8
    Wylie and the Wild West: Cowboy and country music from Washington state
  • November 12
    Chuna McIntyre and the Nunumpta Yup'ik Dancers: Alaskan music and dance

The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. The center includes the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. For more information on the Folklife Center, go to

Part of the Kennedy Center's Performing Arts for Everyone initiative, the Millennium Stage helps fulfill the center's mission to make performing arts widely accessible. The Millennium Stage introduces the performing arts to the local community and to millions of people who visit the center each year. These free, 6 p.m. performances are offered 365 days a year. Tickets are never required. Daily broadcasts of Millennium Stage concerts are available on the Internet. For a schedule and information on how to access the broadcasts, visit the Kennedy Center Web site:

The Folklore Society of Greater Washington (FSGW) was founded in 1964 to further the understanding, investigation, appreciation, and performance of the traditional folk music and folklore of the American people. The FSGW presents more than 200 folk events in the Washington, D.C., area each year. For more information, see their Web site at


PR 03-092
ISSN 0731-3527