Wilson Savoy with Drew Simon on drums at Festivals
Acadiens in September 2005.
Cedric Watson, above, and Drew Simon, below, at the
Liberty Theater in Eunice.
Blake Miller (grandson of accordion maker Larry
Miller) on fiddle with Wilson and Cedric at
The photos in this section were taken at Baton
Rouge's Fest for All in early May 2006.
here to go to the Official Web Site of the Pine Leaf
Boys, which is highly informative, but, more
importantly, one of the most entertaining web
addresses in all of Cajun and Zydeco.
While walking through downtown
Lafayette on the way to a performance of Bonsoir,
Catin at the Blue Moon Saloon in early November
2005, I was surprised to encounter a young man
sitting on his front steps playing the accordion and
singing in Cajun French, a scene from the Southwest
Louisiana countryside decades ago transplanted into
a 21st century city landscape. A closer approach
revealed that the musician was Drew Simon, a member
of the Pine Leaf Boys, playing at the residence in
the middle of the city that serves as the band's
home and headquarters. The Pine Leaf Boys are the
latest group in what in recent years has become
something of a renaissance of French music in
Lafayette led by young musicians, many of whom grew
up in smaller towns in Southwest Louisiana.
The Pine Leaf Boys are ready,
willing, and highly able to play Cajun and Creole
music 24/7. Toss them an instrument–it doesn't much
matter which one since each plays several–and they
will launch into some Canray Fontenot, Belton
Richard, Aldus Roger, Amédé Ardoin, Michael Doucet,
Iry LeJeune, or traditional songs recovered from the
past and reinvigorated by young musicians whose
extraordinary talent is matched by their energy on stage.
By the time of this
write-up in July 2006, I have had the group's first
CD, La Musique, for nearly half a year, but the
music is still just as lively and enjoyable as the
first time I heard it. No one can sit still
while listening to Wilson Savoy's "Pine Leaf Boy
Two-Step," fast and bouncy like all of the best
two-steps with a joy somehow made even more intense
by lyrics about the pain of abandonment.
is the son of Marc and Ann Savoy. Marc, whom many
consider to be the greatest living Cajun
accordionist, and Ann have long been a major
force in efforts to preserve traditional Cajun
The Pine Leaf Boys certainly
remain faithful to that tradition, but in their
attitude and approach they also have managed to help
younger audiences recognize that it's much more hip
to be dancing to music that their ancestors helped
create than to be following styles manufactured by
distant music producers as just another disposable
commodity to generate profits.
In addition to "Pine Leaf Boy
Two-Step," Wilson Savoy also sings "New Family
Waltz" by the late Milton Adams, a
frequent visitor at the Savoy Music Store Jam
sessions, and Blues de Bosco, a perennial Cajun
favorite, as well as other songs noted below.
Drew Simon's vocals on the
late Phillip Alleman's "I'm Not Lonesome Anymore" perfectly
captures the icy scorn of a man addressing the woman
who has left him (with Wilson's brother, Joel,
sitting in on steel guitar, Alleman's instrument).
Simon, who first gained notice as a member with his
brother Ryan in the band Acadien, also does an
excellent job covering songs by other classic Cajun
vocalists, including, on this CD, Iry LeJeune's "La
Branche de Murier" and Belton Richard's "I'll Have
to Forget You." Simon's "Festival Acadien Waltz" is
based on Octa Clark's "Jamboree Waltz," and he also
sings his version of the "Lawtell Two-Step."
In his performance of "La
Belle Josette," Cedric Watson has taken an old
ballad from the Alan Lomax collection and
turned it into a beautiful, upbeat folk song with a
fiddle-accordion duet carrying the tune. Watson, the
Creole fiddler from Texas who has embraced his
Louisiana roots and gained a lot of fans from all
over, also sings Canray Fontenot's "Les
Barres de la Prison." and "Chez Moreau" (an original
song to the tune of "Two-Step de Tante Nana").
On "Homage à Poullard (a tribute to Ed Poullard and his
late brother, Danny), Cedric sings "Jolie Bassette,"
preceded by Wilson's "Quo Faire," both classic songs
from the Creole tradition. Cedric joins Wilson on
the twin-fiddle tune "La Valse de Vieux Charpentier,"
and, with Wilson on vocals, they play another
accordion-fiddle number, "Valse de Josephine."
Other members of the band are
Blake Miller on base and second fiddle and Jon
Bertrand on guitar. All of the band members speak
French, another encouraging sign for the future of
traditional Cajun music.
The group's first recording,
released by Arhoolie Records, includes French and
English lyrics of most songs. Lyrics not on the CD
are provided at the Official Pine Leaf Boys
What's a "pine leaf'? In the
interviews with the band I have heard or read, no
one provides a straight answer. We'll never
find out by asking. Instead, the answer is in the
music: just keep listening and you'll understand.
–David Simpson, LSUE
Click here for the online version of OffBeat
Magazine's October 2006 cover story on Wilson Savoy
and the Pine Leaf Boys.
Click here for photos of the Pine Leaf Boys during
2006 Mardi Gras.
Click here for a review of
Cedric's 2006 CD with Corey Ledet.