If you make a South Louisiana sojourn, plan to take a Saturday morning side trip to Mamou to take in Fred’s Lounge. The basic facts:
It’s a bar that is only open early on Saturday – 7:30 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. – and they start a live Cajun music radio broadcast at 9:00 A.M. … but that doesn’t even begin to capture the experience. For starters, Mamou really is a one-traffic-light town … really.
The inside of Fred’s is like being in someone’s basement, including the classic metal poles for structural support. The band sets up in the middle of the bar but there’s no stage or even just any kind of elevated space. They surround the band with a yellow nylon rope (industrial strength!) to keep the dancers from falling into the band (but no chicken wire!). And there are dancers, trying their best to navigate in the available space … plus motorcyclists, bicyclists, tour buses of international visitors, and Louisiana people that have dropped in, frequently on their way to one of the other festivals or activities in South Louisiana.
The owner, Sue Vasseur, will periodically take the “bandstand” to read commercials on the radio in Cajun French. The whole vibe is accurately summed up by their signature hand-lettered sign – “Please DO NOT stand on the tables, chairs, cigarette machine, booths, and Juke-Box! Thank you, Fred”.
… hope to see you there.