Photos above were taken during a
at the 2008 Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week
at Chicot State Park in Evangeline Parish.
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From Now On,
Michael Doucet’s first recording on the Smithsonian Folkways
label, is the product of studio sessions, but everything is
laid-back and casual, the way musicians groove alone or together
at home just for their own pleasure, playing whatever moves
them. That’s the kind of spontaneous enjoyment this CD offers.
Those familiar with the
many directions in which Michael Doucet has taken Cajun music
with his band BeauSoleil will not be surprised by the range of
selections on the CD, but they will be pleased by the way he
explores the possibilities, either on his own or together with
two other top musicians, one Cajun and the other from New
Six of the songs feature
Doucet playing solo on either fiddle or octave fiddle. He is
joined by fiddler Mitchell Reed on five numbers and by New
Orleans jazz and funk guitarist Todd Duke on six others.
On “Le Two-Step de
Basile” Doucet delivers yet another exquisite solo virtuoso
performance. For “Bee de la Manche,” he strokes the octave
fiddle to bring out the raw, earthy feeling of Canray Fontenot’s
song that he originally recorded with Canray in 1981. The octave
fiddle contributes a rich, sonorous beauty to “Contradance de
Mamou. “Reels de Mamou,” which combines several fiddle tunes,
draws on another older dance style. “Wade’s Two-Step” is an
accelerated version of a waltz by Eunice fiddler Wade Fruge with
whom Doucet used to play. .
“Madame Young” was
originally recorded in 1929 by Dennis McGee, whose deep roots in
the Cajun tradition had a profound influence on Doucet during
their long friendship that ended in 1989 when McGee died at age
96. In his track notes, Doucet explains that the tune was
slightly altered by Cajun fiddler Doc Guidry to become “Allons
One of the many rewards
of the CD is the opportunity to hear twin fiddling with Mitchell
Reed, who, before he joined BeauSoleil, had long established
himself as one of the top Cajun fiddlers as a member of groups
like the Mamou Prairie Band, Tasso, Charivari and others (he
currently also plays fiddle with Racines). Though Doucet and
Mitchell Reed do occasional twin fiddle numbers during
BeauSoleil performances, Reed spends most of his time on bass.
On the CD, Doucet and Reed channel Dennis McGee and Sady
Courville for inspired collaborations on “Chez Denouse,” and
“Happy One-Step” and on “L’amour ou la folie,” the title song of
BeauSoleil’s 1998 Grammy-winning CD. They also play “Brasse le
gombo vite” and Chère
Evangeline (based on a Swedish folk song learned from an English
Doucet never picks up
the accordion on stage, but, with the comfortable ease of a
back porch musician, he gives us his version of “Amédé’s
Accordion,” a tribute to the intricate style of the truly
legendary Creole musician Amédé
In the collaborations
with Todd Duke, Doucet and Duke trade leads as they glide
through the twists and turns of “Fonky Bayou,” arrive in the
heart of Hoagy Carmichael’s “New Orleans,” and give us their
rendition of one of the most popular jazz numbers of all time,
“Saint Louis Blues.” “Madame Boudreaux” is actually a Cuban
rumba that became a New Orleans Creole song before it was
Cajunized by Nathan Abshire as “Mama Rosin.” Doucet’s lyrics
celebrate a woman who loves to cook gumbo and go dancing.
On the opening cut,
Doucet’s octave fiddle matches Duke’s funky guitar to the tune
of Allen Toussaint’s “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky.” The CD
ends with Doucet switching to guitar for “You Gotta Move,” a
quiet, haunting blues sung in English with the lyrics repeated
in French at the close.
Accompanying the CD is a
long, very informative biographical sketch by Andy Wallace.
Doucet’s lively track notes tell us where the music came from
and why he likes it.
As far as I can tell,
Doucet is the first Cajun musician to release a CD on the
Smithsonian-Folkways label. In 1987, after the death of Moses
Asch, the founder of Folkways, the Smithsonian acquired the
label’s entire collection of more than 2,000 records, including
a limited number of Cajun releases that continue to be available
on-line and as custom-produced CDs. The label is legendary among
fans of folk and world music. (Some forty years ago, while an
undergraduate at LSU, I recall searching out the address of
Folkways Records to order a copy of Woody Gutherie’s “Dust Bowl
Days.”) It is thus especially noteworthy that Doucet has been
chosen for a new recording under the auspices of the
Smithsonian, which is carrying forward the mission of a record
label that has played an essential role in preserving the
world’s musical heritage.
release feature Michael and David Doucet on many cuts
In 2007, Arhoolie Records’ Chris Strachwitz
released two CDs with musical selections drawn from material
recorded in New Orleans as part of a film documentary project
about Arhoolie. The CD, A New Orleans Visit—Before Katrina,
features Michael Doucet on fiddle and his brother David Doucet
on guitar, billed as Cajun Brew, in performances of “La jog
plombeau,” “Malinda,”, “Bosco Stomp,” “Tasso,” and a jazzed up
version of “J’ai passé devant ta porte.” In addition, Michael
performs with other musicians, including Miss Lollypop singing
“Hey! La Bas,” accordion and harmonica player Bruce “Sunpie”
Barnes, and clarinetist Sammy Rimmington.
here for more pictures of Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil.
here for 2002 photos.
for more information from Doucet's booking agent.