Sunday, June 13, 2010

The first Esplanade Street Stage band, Dikki Du & the Zydeco Krewe did not appear.  I never heard any reason why.  It’s unfortunate because they don’t play New Orleans, and I’ve never heard them.

The first band was then Li’l Malcom & the Houserockers, a solid band who doesn’t appear in New Orleas too often.  They have a good mix of old and new, some French, and some waltzes.  Waltzes are a good way to give a hard-dancing crowd a break, and much appreciated.

Over on the Barracks Street Stage, the excellent young band FeuFollet played.  The band has been together for ten years or so, beginning as early teens.  Not all of the original members are still along for the ride, but their current membership has been stable for the past two CDs.   The addition of singer and guitarist Anna Laura Edmiston has given the band a great sound.  They’ve been mentioned as the future of Cajun music, and I find that hard to argue with.  The sound includes modern-day folk but also tunes and lyrics from way back.  And they’re got a new CD, En Couleurs. [http://www.louisianamusicfactory.com/showoneprod.asp?ProductID=6858]   One tune, “Ouvre la porte” came from the University of Louisiana Lafayette archives, so they’re taking time to listen to their ancestors.  But they are firmly in the present, as their “Parlez nous a boire” in a rock style showed.  This is one of the finest young Cajun bands, with the Lost Bayou Ramblers and the Pine Leaf Boys.

During the afternoon, I talked to local violinist John Dowden.  He knows lots of musicians and lots of stories.  He told me about an LP by Aldus Roger with Belton Richard on drums that must be quite something to hear.  And we discussed the new magazine, Louisiana Music.  There’s only one issue so far, and it’s devoted entirely to Nathan Abshire, with lots of photos from family archives.  Though it’s expensive at $10 a copy for 56 pages, it makes a fascinating read.

Cedric Watson et Bijou Creole were next at the Barracks Street Stage.  Watson is a former member of the Pine Leaf Boys and an excellent player of accordion and violin.  When I stayed at the Blue Moon Saloon and Guest House in Lafayette for two weeks in the early Katrina evacuation, Watson and Savoy lived in the block and would set in with various bands as well as play on their own.  He’s recently gone his own way, with one solo CD and one with his band, Bijou Creole (‘Creole jewels’).  Watson spoke directly to the crowd, announcing that he was off to Montreal the next day.  The Creole touch is evident in his music, primarily through syncopation.  Watson wins the Music Experimenter Award of the weekend for bring up a kora player.  The kora is an African instrument consisting of a large, round, gourd-like body, with a long neck from which multiple strings run from neck to body.  An expert player is a wonder to hear, producing a harp-like sound.   He played a few numbers with the band before leaving, one slow (Clifton Chenier’s “I’m on a wonder”) and one fast one.  Watson started one song slowly, like Beau Jocque did the “Motor Dude Special” on his live album.  It was “Tee Black,” which has the same tune as the “Motor Dude Special,” also associated with Boozoo Chavis.  They did a jure entitled “Rockaway.”  Jure is an old music style, requiring only the human voice and body.  It uses no instruments, just clapping, stomping and singing.  The Lomax recordings feature “Rockaway” and a couple others.  Lynn August recorded two jures on his album “Sauce Piquante.”

Over at the Esplanade Street Stage, Corey Ledet & His Zydeco Band were making their presence well known.  Ledet is not well known, but I like his style.  He can play old time or not.  From the Clifton Chenier songbook, he played “Marcher Plancher,” “Party Down” (left off the Blue Angel Club), and “Black gal.”  There was even a line dance going on in the street.  Later, he brought down the house with “Git It, Li’l Pop” That’s the same song as “Git It, Beau Jocque” just with his nickname.

I left before either of the closing acts, Terrence Simien or Steve Riley came on.  It was a long, hot day.  Simien isn’t my favorite, and I’ve seen Riley many times, not that there’s anything wrong with that!  So it was farewell to lawn chairs, oak trees, a few breezes, the solar-heated hand sanitizer, and all my friends.  Now it’s time to start planning Festivals Acadiens et Creole, Oct. 8-10, in Lafayette.

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