Back in the day our elders were horrified the rock ’n’ roll culture meant doom, especially the dreadful music that crept into their lives. From Elvis to The Beatles, even to The Boogie Kings, and that beat went on and on and on.
Bands such as Buddy Hart & The Heartbreakers, Joe Simon, The Fabulous Falcons, The Wheels, Dale & Grace, and even up to “modern” times’ Funk’s Hybrid, were featured at the Cedar Club in Morganza.
Many of you remember spending the weekend in Morganza listening to the live bands or playing rock and roll on the jukebox. Travelers came to play cards, have a drink, chew the fat, play a few rounds of bingo or dance the night away. It was a place where many couples met, dated, fell in love and were married. I, in fact, am the product of one such union.
It all happened in our little village at The Cedar Lounge, more popularly known as The Cedar Club. A legend in its own time and an icon in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, The Cedar Club was a watering hole for many locals and people traveling through Morganza.
On Dec. 31, the Cedar Club will reopen. Mark T. Allement is reopening the historical dance hall as The Cedar Saloon. Local master carpenter Kris Purpera is doing the work.
Allement lives in Batchelor, but spent a lot of his childhood in Morganza with his grandparents Amar and Anaise Allement. His partner, Shane Shows, of Lakeland, will be the manager of the saloon. Allement said he wants to help Morganza rebuild the town that was so special to him growing up. The place will have a gaming room for people to enjoy video poker, darts, pool and other games. Bingo, free food giveaways, and Cajun days are all things Allement hopes to have at the saloon.
The grand opening will be in January or February, but the doors will open for a sneak peek and New Year’s Eve party on Dec 31 from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Jimmy Delatte Kuntry Five Band will play on New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. More information can be found online at TheCedarSaloon.com.
The Cedar Lounge was built in 1947 by Frank J. Sansone, about a mile from Melancon’s cafe. The name is derived from the custom cedar wood bar. In order to accommodate more dancers, the bandstand was added. Air conditioning was not installed until the ’70s. A small grocery store was added in the back run by Happy Melson.
The Cedar Club quickly became a favorite bar in town. The Sansone family built “The Malt Shop” in the same parking lot. A small house was built in the back for the nanny who babysat local children. In the late ’60s and ’70s, Charlie and Rose Cashio ran The Cedar Club. This is a special time for me, as Charlie and Rose were my grandparents. I remember running in and out of the bar area and the bingo hall with my cousins.
The Cedar Club changed hands many times and in 1992, Donnie “Hair Bear” Derbes took over, changing the name to The Bear’s Den. The Cedar Club/Bear’s Den was purchased by Mark T. Allement, a descendant of Morganza natives, and the bar finally closed in 2016.