Rotarian Leonard Fontenot invited Floyd Soileau, owner of Floyd’s Record Shop, and Rotarian Martel Ardoin (Mark Layne with KVPI) to discuss the history of Swamp Pop, the Swamp Pop Museum and the record store. Soileau said the state was blessed with a large musical heritage, from the Louisiana Hayride in North Louisiana, New Orleans jazz, rhythm and blues and the more diverse Cajun, Zydeco and Creole music of South Louisiana. Swamp Pop music was invented when young musicians blended Cajun influence into their sound to create a unique and distinctive type of music.
Soileau said he created a record label with Doug Ardoin in 1957 and recorded Rod Bernard. Other artists, such as Johnny Allen, Tommy McClain and Warren Storm also recorded for Soileau’s label. Soileau then said the term “Swamp Pop” was coined in 1970 when fans of the music visited Ville Platte and one guy told him, “We really love your ‘swamp pop’ music.” The term has stuck all these years, and Soileau said Ville Platte is lucky to have a radio station like KVPI to keep Swamp Pop alive and bring the music to younger generations of fans.
A couple of big hits Soileau regrets not getting to record for his label are “Mathilda” and “Sea of Love,” which became monster hits.
Soileau closed by discussing the fate of the small town record shop in America. He said he has heard within four years, record stores will be non-existent and a thing of the past, thanks to the popularity of digital downloads, I-Pod players and I-Tunes. He added he hoped to be the last one to have to turn out the lights.
Layne then spoke about the future Swamp Pop Museum, noting he had a good idea to capitalize on all of the great local music, Floyd’s Record Shop and the Evangeline Club. He then had Ville Platte declared the “Swamp Pop Capital of the World.” He said the building and a board is in place to show appreciation for the artists for many years to come. He noted funding is underway for the museum.
He then said Shane Bernard’s Swamp Pop History Book is a good place to start when learning about the music and its special place in our culture in South Louisiana. Layne added Fridays are the most listened to days on KVPI, locally and online all around the world. He also added he hated the music at first, but now, he loves it and is a big convert dedicated to preserving its heritage.
November 4, Meeting
Dan Noack with the Pine Prairie Energy Center was the guest speaker for the November 4, meeting of the Ville Platte Rotary Club. He spoke about the salt dome natural gas storage facility located in Easton and shared a slide show of the facility. He said the domes are among the largest ones on the gulf coast, beginning at 1,200 feet in depth and continuing to 10,000 feet. The salt domes start at 4,200 feet and end at 5,500 feet. He said brine used to store the gas is disposed of safely off the domes, where fresh water is injected. Noack stated the facility currently had four compressor units running on 350 to 400 acres of land, totalling 21 billion cubic feet for all three caverns. He also said the company has 15 full-time employees and an average of 30 contractors on the site each day, and added two operators are always there 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, to make sure things are running smoothly.