When I was young I thought I knew everything. Understood everything. What is it about the innocence of youth that makes people think this? Is it innocence? Yes, I guess it is. Maybe a little bit of ignorance thrown in with it, though. The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t know everything. Not even close. When you are young, you know your immediate family and you kinda know your place in it. When you start looking into family history, you realize that your family is much bigger and spread out.
This is particularly true for the idea of music in my family. When my family had the Landry Family Band in the 70s and 80s, we (maybe I should say I) thought we were so innovative and different. People would even say that it was “special” or “extraordinary.” We weren’t famous or anything, but we did play together every week at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Lake Charles. We’d also play for events or parties. It was pretty special, but it wasn’t the first time that family members performed music together.
Just look at this photo from the 1890s. The name of the band was Kelly’s String Band and there were some family members in it from my Patureau family line. In the front with the funny looking trumpet (not a string) is my great great uncle Alcide Patureau (my father was Bob Landry, his mother was Erie Patureau, her father was Max Patureau, and Max & Alcides’s father was Ferdinand Patureau who was originally from France). Alcide’s (& Max’s) brother Omer is the one in the middle with the banjo. The guy on the right with the mandolin is Alcide and Omer’s (& Max’s) nephew Ferdinand Hebert (son of Aline Patureau Hebert). The two guys standing up are Nick Manola and Wade Landry. I don’t know of any relation to them.
So at least 80 years before our Shakey’s day, there were family members performing for other people’s entertainment. And I’m sure there were probably more before that in the unknown history of the family. This is the earliest photographic record of a band in my family. I’d love to know what they sounded like and what kinds of music they played.
I have this other photo of two of these members who must have branched out on their own with their dueling banjos. (Or maybe they were a duo before the band got together. Not exactly sure of the date for the first photo.) This is Omer Patureau and Ferdinand Hebert in a photo dated 1894. Both photos show that they were taken in Plaquemine.
As I’ve said before, people in the past did not have as readily available access to entertainment and information as we do now. Maybe when people came from their homes and listened to them entertain, they heard things like people saying they were “special” or “extraordinary.” And maybe they were.
As I get older and particularly with the passing of both of my parents, I do look back at those times playing music with my family and they are special to me. And they will become more special as time goes by. This I do know.