Gras Day in 2008, I was a couple of blocks away from the
main stage in downtown Eunice during the late afternoon
listening to what I assumed was Steve Riley’s fiery,
fast-fingered accordion improvisations playing “La porte
d’arriere.” As I got nearer, I realized with some
amazement that the accordionist was actually15-year-old
Briggs Brown sitting in with the Mamou Playboys.
veteran musician who has been playing for seven years,
Briggs has released two CDs, Tee Cajun in 2005
and in 2008 Vieille memories – Bons temps,
featuring his band Briggs Brown and the Bayou Cajuns.
the great great nephew of the late Sidney Brown, a
widely admired Cajun accordionist who is equally well
known as one of the first Cajuns to build accordions.
Brigg’s father, Greg, who plays bass in the band, has
also recently become an accordion builder (one of the
accordions Briggs plays was made by his father).
sister, Megan, a 19-year-old student at LSUE, is the
band’s female vocalist. The band also features two of
the top male vocalists in Cajun music, drummer Ray
Thibodeaux and guitarist Homer LeJeune. Ray’s son,
18-year-old Travis Benoit, plays fiddle. Travis is a
2003 recipient of the Cajun French Music Association’s
New Dawn Award. Briggs received the same award in 2006.
musicians on the 2008 CD are the Magnolia Sisters’ Jane
Vidrine on guitar and Steve Riley on fiddle.
beautiful, delicate soprano makes “Marie mouri,” David
Greely’s musical version of a slave’s poem, hauntingly
sad. Her vocals are nicely complemented by Travis Benoit
on fiddle, who is seconded by Steve Riley. She also sings “Chers amis” and Zachary Richard’s “Belle Louisiane,”
recorded with her own harmony vocals. In addition, she
sings the English lyrics to Fred Charlie’s lovely waltz
“I Had a Dream Last Night.” (Megan is also a
folk singer who composes her own songs in English:
during the past year we enjoyed her performances at LSUE
poetry evenings held at Café Mosaic, a coffee house in
Thibodeaux handles the vocals on “Marksville Two-Step,”
“World in a Jug (Bosco Blues),” “Belizaire Waltz,”
“Allons à Lafayette,” and “Teche Special.” Homer LeJeune
sings “Calcasieu Waltz,” “Les flammes d’enfer,” and
“Lake Charles Playboy Waltz.” On “Pine Grove Blues,”
Thibodeaux is the lead vocalist with LeJeune handling
the traditional response comments. On “Zydeco sont pas
salé,” LeJeune is the lead singer, seconded by
The CD opens very appropriately with the instrumental
“Traveler Playboy Special,” the signature number of
Sydney Brown’s band. The other instrumental on the CD is
“Fond de culotte two-step.”
As part of the Mamou Playboys’ performance during the
2008 Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week, Briggs
Brown was invited to join the band on stage for a couple
of songs before a crowd that included a number of other
young Cajun musicians. To cheers and applause from
everyone there, Riley said that, while some may have
wondered for a while whether the Cajun traditions would
continue, the future is now in the very capable hands of
a new generation.
Briggs Brown and other young members
of his band, joined by older musicians who have been
steadfast over the years in their commitment to their
heritage, are, as the title of the CD suggests, making
old memories come alive in the present, keeping the good
times going for future generations to enjoy.
In addition to listening to the band’s recording, you
can catch them live at D.I.’s Cajun Restaurant (located
west of Eunice between Basile and Jennings in the rural
community of Tee-Mamou) and at other venues listed on
the band’s mySpace page.
Megan Brown is
shown at the Liberty Theater.
The top two photos show Briggs
Brown at the Liberty. Travis Benoit is shown in the next
photo when the band played in downtown Eunice during
Mardi Gras. The first thumbnail shows Briggs at the
Balfa camp when he performed with the Mamou Playboys. In
the next row are Homer LeJeune, left, and Ray
Thibodeaux. Greg Brown is on bass in the next row, which
also has a photo of Megan Brown with the Mamou Playboys
at the Balfa camp.