The folk magazine Dirty Linen is no more, but it leaves a legacy of love for all folk music styles.   Author Georgianne Nienaber prepared an article entitled “Tab Benoit : When a Cajun Man Gets the Blues.”  The last issue was January 2010, so her article wasn’t published.   Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, it’s now available.

Tab Benoit doesn’t play Cajun music, so why am I writing this post?  He did play with BeauSoleil several times recently, though not playing Cajun songs.  Benoit has been a tireless campaigner for saving Louisiana’s wetlands, a cause I heartily endorse, especially with the recent BP debacle in the Gulf of Mexico. And, if you read the article, you’ll find Ann Savoy quoted about halfway through.  And she’s an important Cajun musician, married to accordion player and maker Marc Savoy, and author of the pivotal Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People.  (It’s subtitled Volume 1, though no other volumes has appeared, unfortunately.)


BeauSoleil closed out the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo yesterday in New Orleans.  They were joined by Tab Benoit, and a final jam with George Porter, Jr. (of the Meters) and other musicians.  The set ran a little over an hour, and was punctuated with numerous exhortations and caustic comments about the BP oil spill, currently fouling Louisiana waters and marshes.  BeauSoleil consists of Michael Doucet on violin and vocals, his brother David Doucet on guitar, Jimmy Breaux on accordions, Billy Ware on percussion, Tommy Alessi on drums, and the newest member, Mitchell Reed on bass and violin.  BeauSoleil recorded many albums with Sonny Landreth on electric guitar, before he left the group a few years ago.  Landreth didn’t sing with BeauSoleil, and his guitar work did not dominate the band’s sound.  BeauSoleil has always seemed to work to balance the members contributions.  Michael Doucet leads on violin but there’s always solos from the rest of the band.   Benoit joined the group a little more than halfway through the 75 minute set.  The songs he played were not Cajun standards, and I assume they were his originals.  The set list included:

  • Newz Reel (from their Grammy-winning CD L’Amour ou La Folie)
  • Donnez-moi Pauline (Give me Pauline)
  • Sud de la Louisiane (The South of Louisiana, Alex Broussard song about the wonderful animal life in Louisiana, preceded by negative comments from Michael Doucet about the fouling of Louisiana by BP)
  • I spent all my money loving you (Bobby Charles song, on their CD Alligator Purse, performed differently from the CD, e.g., no organ)
  • L’Ouragon (The Hurricane, from the CD La Danse de la vie)
  • The Problem (from Alligator Purse, with the chorus “the man at the top has got to go.”)
  • Tab Benoit joined band for a few songs, including:
  • My bucket’s got a hole in it (Hank Williams)
  • Not Fade Away/Iko Iko (big final jam with Porter, etc., from their CD Bayou Cadillac)

My photos of the day are now available on flickr.

BeauSoleil was in fine form as usual.  Michael Doucet performed his usual wonderful violin parts, swooping up and down the scale, always in perfect rhythm.  Mitchell Reed joined BeauSoleil before the 2009 Jazz Fest, primarily on bass, but often playing twin fiddles with Doucet, always a real treat.  Doucet used two beautiful violins on stage; some photos of them are in the group above.  You can see them facing one another, bowing away furiously, to the delight of the crowd.  David Doucet took a few acoustic guitar solos, though fewer than I recall in other BeauSoleil performances.  Ware and Alessi provided rock steady percussion backup.  And Jimmy Breaux tore it up with his accordion playing, using both Cajun (diatonic) and double-row accordions.  Benoit was not just another Sonny Landreth, not that it would be a bad thing!  He played his own rock style, rather than Landreth’s blues slide style.  He sang several songs, which I did not recognize, so I assume they are his originals.

Besides Michael Doucet’s comments throughout were all about the terrible situation that BP has caused and state and federal governments have exacerbated.   Benoit made an impassioned please before the final song, asking everyone to get involved and to find out the facts for themselves, cautioning the crowd not to believe BP.  This was the most political performance I’ve seen from BeauSoleil.  Benoit is well known as a proponent of coastal restoration, with his free Voice of the Wetlands Festival, founded 2004, in October.

BeauSoleil is performing with blues guitarist Tab Benoit at least three times in late May.  The first is at Tipitina’s, Friday, May 21.  The second is at Ruby’s Roadhouse in Mandeville, LA, Saturday, May 22.  The third pairing is Sunday, May 23, where the Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo will close out its main, Orleans Stage, with the pairing.  Benoit is a fine blues guitarist, originally from Houma, Louisiana.  Benoit is an accomplished artist on his own, and the organizer of the Voice of the Wetlands Festival, held in October.  His style is reminiscent of Sonny Landreth, so these performances promise to be reminiscent of BeauSoleil’s days before Landreth struck out on his own.

The Boogaloo is a free music festival in New Orleans.  It started in 2006, as a way to boost the Mid-City neighborhood following the flooding of New Orleans caused by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers following Hurricane Katrina.