Lisa LeBlanc

Acadian singer-songwriter Lisa LeBlanc returns to Festival International de Louisiane this year, performing her trademark “folk-trash” songs with an Americana bent. Born in the tiny New Brunswick town of Rosaireville, the award-winning musician started playing music at an early age.

“Started young, like a lot of Acadian artists growing up with the kitchen party culture,” LeBlanc said. “Jammed a lot with my family who were into a lot of classic rock. Started playing guitar at 14, picked up the banjo at 19.”

LeBlanc now makes her home in Montreal where her self-titled debut album went platinum since its 2012 Canadian release and her mini-album “Highways, Heartaches and Time Well-Wasted” was released last fall. “Highways” contains five original tracks and one cover of “Katie Cruel,” a traditional folk song arranged by LeBlanc.

We caught up with LeBlanc on a world tour; she had just returned from three weeks in New Zealand, then a stint in Vancouver where both locations offered a warm respite from the Canadian cold. Since April remains within the confines of a Canadian winter, she was thrilled to be spending that time in warm Lafayette, Louisiana, for her third visit to Festival International.

But that’s not why the multi-talented musician — she performs on guitar, banjo and vocals — is looking forward to returning to Lafayette.

“I absolutely love this place,” she said of Lafayette. “I’m extremely excited to be part of festival and I’m super excited about coming back.”

Lisa LeBlanc

After being asked to participate, LeBlanc compared the feeling to the anticipation of Christmas. She took on a smile that lasted for days, she said. Since her earlier trips south, LeBlanc has fallen in love with the culture, food and warmth of Lafayette’s people and, most importantly of all, the Cajun music.

“You go to some places and you say, wow, OK, this marks me for life,” LeBlanc described of her Louisiana adventures.

Her first trip to festival was in 2011 where she performed a couple of sets with other French-speaking musicians. She returned in 2013 as a tourist and enjoyed the festival’s bands hailing from around the world as well as Louisiana and learned to play Cajun music, jamming with local musicians.

Lisa LeBlanc 2

“That’s how I learned a couple of Cajun songs and it soon became one of my favorite styles of music,” she said.

It was also during her last Lafayette trip that LeBlanc took the opportunity to visit the great American music towns of Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans and Austin. All these experiences were incorporated into her latest album, “Highways, Heartaches and Time Well-Wasted,” which she will tap into at this year’s festival.

“Louisiana was incredibly inspiring, going back to Acadian roots and discovering traditional Cajun music was a big eye opener,” she said of the trip. “‘Gold Diggin’ Hoedown’ was inspired by a man I saw in a Nashville bar.

“Doing a month and a half road trip, being my first, was just great and also had a lot of time to write and see shows, meet musicians.”

The album’s a collection of Americana songs recorded in English with musicians Maxime Gosselin on drums and Jean-Philippe Hébert on guitar along with Brad Barr, Émilie Bernard, Pierre-Guy Blanchard and François-Régis Pagé. The album doesn’t contain Cajun songs, but LeBlanc’s experiences in Louisiana are hiding in the shadows.

“There’s not a direct influence you can hear on the album,” LeBlanc explained, “but I think there’s a couple subtle influences.”

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This year, LeBlanc is contemplating driving to Lafayette from Montreal so she can once again tour America. Like most festival musicians, she is taking the opportunity to perform at other U.S. venues and cities; after Festival, LeBlanc will perform in Nashville.

“I’ve been on the go for two months now,” she said in March. “I love it so I’m probably going to come down with my car.”

She will perform at Festival International beginning at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at Scène Stabil Drill International and at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 25, on Scène Lafayette General Fais Do Do.

Chere Cohen Head ShotCheré Coen is a Lafayette-based freelance travel and food writer and author of “Exploring Cajun Country: An Historic Guide to Acadiana” and several other Louisiana-based books.

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