Bestowing a saccharine sample of Lafayette’s forthcoming festival season upon locals eager to frolic the streets, the third annual Geronimo Music Festival summoned musicians, enthusiasts and common connoisseurs of les bon temps for a celebratory gathering honoring the soul of an independent music scene taking hold in the Acadiana area.
“It is at long last becoming blatantly obvious just how easily we can paint this town neon red,” said local musician Jake Hebert, 25, one of the organizers of the festival who also plays with the Geronimo-billed band Bird City. “I credit our success to the creativity, connectedness and open-mindedness of the youth in this and the surrounding areas.”
Geronimo featured more than 30 independent artists from Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and beyond with styles ranging from the melodious folk tunes of Calico and the Off-Brand Band, to the dark, bluesy-rock crooning of the legendary Dax Riggs, to the face-melting metal of Wildfires.
“We obviously want bands that draw, and we absolutely want to bring diversity, but it’s also important to expose Lafayette to bands they’ve probably never heard of,” said Tiffany Lamson, 22, of the band GIVERS, who played to a sea of sardines Saturday afternoon as the Blue Moon Saloon’s opening act. For two years, Lamson has served as owner and production manager of the festival after inheriting it from band mate and original Geronimo mastermind Kirby Campbell.
The festival, which was held in May last year, was pushed up a couple months “to try and entice the college scene to participate,” Lamson said. “I think it worked out better in March. Beautiful weather, and the kids ran wild in it.”
Artmosphere, Sadies and the Blue Moon Saloon housed the event, with an additional outdoor stage between Cedar Deli and Borden’s. The Cedar Deli Stage and Borden’s Marketplace offered face painting, retail booths and hourly bike rentals by downtown’s Recycled Cycles shop.
Although the festival encountered a few roadblocks throughout the day, the relentlessly convivial spirit of the event remained constant.
After OhJ dropped off the bill, London-based band The Scoundrels (who—unbeknownst to many—are currently living at McGee’s Landing in Henderson and recording with local music veteran C. C. Adcock) took over their 3:15 p.m. slot and played to a still-joyous crowd.
“I wish people were always that excited about music in Lafayette,” said Geronimo attendee Michael Gauthier, 20, a junior political science major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “The festival has gotten bigger and better every time and is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Not even cops could kill the vibe when police responded to a neighborhood noise complaint shortly before the Cedar/Borden stage’s final 6 p.m. Caddywhompus vs. B L A C K I E set and shut it down completely, as organizers weren’t able to obtain a sound permit on time.
“We took a chance to set up anyway,” said Hebert, who also served as manager of the outdoor stage. “We’re a bunch of rock and rollers—what do you expect? Thankfully, all of our artists were still able to perform.”
The misplaced performers were squeezed between New Orleans’s Sun Hotel and Washington D.C.’s Frau Eva at the Blue Moon stage, and the festival resumed.
“Next year, rest assured it will be in place,” said Lamson of the mishap, who said she anticipates a major increase in attendance for the next festival. “We are looking at more venues to involve, but as of now we are just basking in the celebration of how well the community stepped up to support us. That’s a warm feeling.”
Although southern Louisiana is well-acquainted with the revelry and merriment of music and dance, Geronimo’s success is representative of a new kind of inspired youth pushing toward the forefront of Acadiana’s deeply rooted, uniquely significant culture—yet with a persistence to embrace that long-standing uniqueness and make it something of their own.
“People drove in from all areas of Louisiana on Saturday to see the artists,” noted Lamson. “Just think if Lafayette could be seen as a place where more recognized artists could stop in and play, and the local artists (would) get the recognition they deserve in the South and beyond.”
“We’re not going to stop until we get what we want,” said Hebert. “A vibrant, thriving scene.”