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

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The Lucky Playboys

Click here for photos of The Lucky Playboys posted on Flickr.

Shown in full-size photos, from top, are Ward Lormand, D'Jalma Garnier, and Rick Benoit. The thumbnails show Blake Castille, Garnier, Lormand, and Kenneth Richard, who performed with the group at 2004 Festivals Acadiens.

Note: As of 2008, the Lucky Playboys no longer were performing regularly and the group's web site is down, but they did perform late in the year at Tipitina's in New Orleans.

If you loved the sound of Filé—and who didn’t?—you’ll find a lot of the same unique mixture of Cajun, Creole, Zydeco and swamp pop sounds in the music of the Lucky Playboys. After Filé’s 20-year odyssey ended in 2002, founder Ward Lormand put together a new group that includes Filé veteran D’Jalma Garnier, Creole musician extraordinaire who has roots both in New Orleans and in Southwest Louisiana, including an apprenticeship under the legendary Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot. Lormand, who performed in 15 countries while touring with Filé, was one of the Cajun accordionists honored for their work in carrying on the tradition at the 2006 Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette, the world’s premiere Cajun music event. Click here for more details about these musicians on LSUE’s Filé page.

Other members of the band include bassist Rick Benoit, who has played with swamp pop stars like Johnnie Allan and Warren Storm, among others, and with Cajun groups like Sheryl Cormier and Cajun Sounds and the Jambalaya Cajun Band; guitarist Blake Castille, who also performs with his father, Hadley Castille, and who has toured with other Cajun and Creole groups; and, on drums and rubboard, Danny Kimball, whose musical experience began in 1966 with the garage band The Bad Roads (which is still performing 40 years later) and extends in all kinds of directions, including playing drums with the Red Beans and Rice Revue.

The group’s first CD, Plus d’chance—Que d’ l’esprit: More Luck—Than Sense, was initially packaged in 2004 with a book, Zydeco Shoes: A Sensory Tour of Cajun Culture. The cover of the CD was designed by the late Earl Hebert, whose art is also featured in the book (Hebert, who was Lormand’s godfather, did the art for the last Filé CD.)

The CD, as well as individual MP3 files of the 15 songs, all of them winners, is now available through the Lucky Playboys’ website.  On “Les petits yeux noirs,” Ward Lormand’s vocals and the inventive accordion, fiddle and guitar instrumentals make the band’s interpretation of this Cajun classic fresh and appealing. The band offers the same kind of pleasures in their versions of other standards like “Ossun Two-Step,” “Cowboy Suit” (“La valse de vachers”), “Criminal Waltz,”  and “Madame Edouard” (“Petite et la grosse”), as well as “Frog’s 2-Step.”

Guest vocalist Kenneth Richard performs his song “Evangeline” on the CD, a tribute to the legendary Acadian heroine. He also wrote “Cayenne Pepper,” an English song with a jaunty bounce about a hot woman with a cool attitude at the Cayenne Club.

Rick Benoit’s vocals give listeners a nicely polished version of the Creole classic “’Tit Monde,” and he also sings the swamp pop hit “Mr. Sandman.”

Whether he is singing with his voice or his fiddle, D’Jalma Garnier takes us to the heart of Clifton Chenier’s “Baby Please Don’t Go,” aided by more nicely balanced guitar and accordion from Castille and Lormand. Garnier and the band capture the appealing Caribbean lilt of Canray Fontenot’s “Malinda.” Garnier reprises one of the most memorable  Filé  songs, his own composition, “La Vie Marron,” about a runaway slave.

Kenny Alleman, another veteran Cajun musician, plays drums on the CD. Rick Lagneaux and Crystal Plamondon (during one of her visits from Canada), provide background harmonies. The CD was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Lagneaux’s Totally Swamped Recordings.

The Lucky Playboys are shown at 2005 Festivals Acadiens. From left are D'Jalma
Garnier, Blake Castille, Ward Lormand, Kenny Alleman, and Rick Benoit.

Posted 1-2-07.

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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