Archive Files of Cajun, Creole, and Zydeco Musicians
Posted between 1999 and 2008

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   Bonne Chance

Click here for high res photos on Flickr.


 Shown in the photos on this page, all taken at the Liberty Theater, are George Prejean, vocals; Nathan Mouton, fiddle; Brett Denais, accordion; Patrick Pellerin, guitar. In the photo at left, Denais is singing "“Ton coeur est barré.”

Bonne Chance was on stage at the Liberty Theater June 9, 2007, but it didn’t feel at all like we were watching and listening to a staged performance. It felt like we had joined the members of Bonne Chance on the back porch or in the parlor for a down home jam or bal de maison--friends and neighbors getting together for good times and good music. The four members of the group are all excellent musicians, but listeners are going to receive at least as much pleasure from experiencing the obvious enjoyment they share playing together as from admiring their technical skills.

During their Liberty show, host Barry Ancelet joked that one of their original songs, “Rayne Two-Step” (an instrumental), might have been composed while they were waiting for a sauce to finish cooking (he then offered his own impromptu French lyrics about a rainy day in Rayne). That’s the kind of easy-going, relaxed feeling that Bonne Chance creates, embracing the tradition but also improvising and embellishing as the mood suits them.

The band was formed in May 2005 by guitarist Pat Pellerin and fiddler Nathan Mouton. Both are from Rayne. Pellerin works in the oil industry, and Mouton is a pharmacist.  Brett Denais, a Lafayette firefighter from Milton, joined them on accordion (Denais also leads the band T-Rouge). Their main vocalist is George Prejean from Church Point.

Among the songs Bonne Chance played at the Liberty were "Hicks Wagon Wheel Special," Dewey Balfa’s “Quand j’étais pauvre,” “Alida,” “Ton coeur est barré” (with excellent vocals by Brett Denais), “Adieu Rosa,” “La valse de Kaplan,” “Bayou Noir / Back of Town Two-Step” medley, "Le rêve du soûlard,” and “Johnny peut pas danser,” all performed with an acoustic sound that was pure and beautiful.  Mouton, Denais, and Pellerin capture the essence of the old style with fiddle and accordion melodies driven along by the rhythm of the guitar, and Prejean sings from the heart, the way Cajun music is meant to be sung.

One of the continuing surprises for anyone who becomes acquainted with Cajun music is just how many musicians are out there playing at home or in jam sessions, especially the number of younger musicians who keep the tradition going just because they love the music.  When they get together as a group and let the rest of us in on their music, it is a wonderful treat for everyone. Bonne Chance is certainly an excellent example of why Cajun music continues to thrive.

Posted 6-27-07.

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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