Talent Night brings in all types

A gospel singer, book publisher, folk artist and businessman took turns sharing their talents during a recent River Road Talent Night event at the Cypress Cafe.

Plaquemine resident Dorothy Williams played the keyboard and sang one of her original poems as a handful of diners listened.

The setting was just what organizers Mary Gehman and Ruth Williams had in mind when they had lunch a few months ago in Cypress Cafe, the location of the Wednesday night events.

“We were having lunch one day here when I talked about the idea of having a talent night here, and Mary jumped on it,” Williams, an artist said.

Williams, who was born in White Castle and lived for many years in Manhattan, said the quaint family-owned cafe is the perfect setting to welcome artists “and all types of creative people to meet and share their talents.”

Gehman, an author who now works as a publisher nurturing new writers, said she provides a podium, microphone and keyboard and leaves the rest to those who want to share.

“You never know what you’ll get,” Gehman said.

That, she said, is the beauty of the sessions.

“We’re learning as we go,” she said, adding that a $2 cover was dropped after she realized it “just wasn’t needed.”

Hoping to draw “folks from Lutcher to Port Allen from both sides of the river, Gehman said her goal is to get “young high school artists, singers, performance artists and writers to join us and share their talents.”

Gehman, a retired Delgado Community College English teacher who moved to Donaldsonville after Hurricane Katrina, said she was fortunate that Cypress Cafe owner Dr. Devjani Lahiri agreed to host the talent night shows which are held at 7 p.m. each Wednesday.

Lahiri sat at a table near the microphone, clapping her hands to the music and listening as the presenters talked about their careers.

“It’s definitely something different to do on a Wednesday night in Donaldsonville,” Lahiri said.

On the fourth event of the new series March 13, folk artist Alvin Batiste, already a regular, started things off by displaying and discussing some of his ink drawings. Batiste, known for his vibrant colors in his primitive art works, said he uses a permanent marker to “doodle” whatever he sees or thinks about.

“I hope the word gets out and the crowds grow,” Batiste said. “When I was coming up, I wished for a program like this to showcase my talents and talk to others and learn,” he said.

Poets, musicians, dancers, comedians, visual artists or anyone else interested in taking part in River Road Talent Night can call (225) 323-4559.