David Greely concludes his
liner notes to his 2009 CD, Sud du Sud, with an invitation to
join him for a different side of Cajun music and culture: “Welcome
to our kitchen. Put away your earplugs for a while.”
For those of us who have
spent years photographing bands in front of the stage right next to
booming speakers, earplugs have become a necessity, but, as Greely
demonstrates with 14 cuts on this CD, the musical nuances expressed
by the unamplified fiddle have an emotional power that giant
speakers cannot match.
Before the accordion in
Cajun and Creole culture there was the fiddle, played at family
gatherings or with friends, producing music that captures a depth of
feeling straight from the heart. As Greely explains, “Its rhythm is
in its heartbeat and it doesn’t need to be pounded out through a
public address system.”
Greely includes several of
his own compositions along with his interpretation of songs drawn
from archives of Cajun and Creole music.
The CD features several
tunes from field recordings. Greely is accompanied by Linda
Handelsman on piano as he plays “McGee’s A Minor Waltz” by Dennis
McGee, recorded by Barry Ancelet in the 1970s,. “Cotillion/Chatagnier”
is a Dennis McGee fiddle tune followed by Greely’s own composition
named for Chataignier, the town where Dennis was born. Joel Savoy
is on second fiddle.
“Cajun Polka: Varise’s
Polka, Chacoter, Sheahan’s Polka” is a twin-fiddle medley played
with Roscoe Theriot and featuring tunes from Varise Conner and one
written by Greely. The medley recalls a time when Cajun dancing
encompassed more than waltzes and two-steps. “Old Cajun Waltz” is
another Varise Conner tune.
“Paul Junius Malveaux’s
Tune” is a fiddle version of a tune from a Creole harmonica player,
with rhythm supplied by Scott Kettner playing the pandeiro, a
Brazilian hand drum.
“Les filles de Vermilion”
begins with a brief recording of the original a cappella ballad sung
by Lula Landry, followed by the same melody played by a classical
string quartet, with the musical arrangement supplied by David
Greely’s son, Gustave, a Hollywood film composer.
Fiddler Wade Fruge played
“Galop” by himself. Greely’s version transforms the song into
four-part harmony with a quartet of fiddlers.
un ouvrier” is based on a 1934 field recording made by John and Alan
On “Bayou Teche Waltz,”
Creole fiddler Cedric Watson trades fiddle leads with David, who
supplies the vocals.
The CD begins with music
familiar to Mamou Playboys fans at live performances (but never
recorded by them), here turned into fiddle tunes. Joining Greely and
trading lead fiddle parts with him is Gina Forsyth, accompanied by
Sam Broussard on guitar, performing Pee Wee Broussard’s “Cankton
2-Step” and Sidney Brown’s “The Rolling Pin Special.”
In addition to the new
companion pieces to older songs from the archives mentioned above,
original compositions on the CD include “Café
Waltz,” inspired by Café des
Amis in Breaux Bridge and featuring Gina Forsyth on lead fiddle,
with Sam Broussard on guitar; “Kräfta” (the Swedish word for
crawfish), which combines Greely’s “vicarious love for Nordic
traditional music” with his “Cajun foundations”; and
“Lune de Miel” (“Honeymoon Waltz”), a delicate,
beautiful waltz, written for Linda Handelsman, who accompanies
David on piano and to whom the CD is dedicated.
The bilingual liner notes
provide interesting background and insights into the music and the
Click here to go to the first page on Steve Riley
and the Mamou Playboys.