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

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Steve Riley

and the Mamou Playboys

Click here for high resolution photos of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys on Flickr.

Click here to go to the Playboys' Official Web Site.

The Mamou Playboys released a 20th anniversary "Best of" 2-CD set on the Rounder label in April 2008. Click here for details.
In December 2008, the Mamou Playboys CD Live at the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was nominated to receive a Grammy Award in the Zydeco/Cajun category.
In 2009, David Greely released Sud du Sud, a CD of fiddle music. Click for a brief overview.



2006 Photos

Top row of photos taken at Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette October 15, 2006.

In second row, first 2 photos taken April 29, 2006, at Festival International right before a torrential rainstorm hit. Next 4 photos at Fest for All in Baton Rouge May 7, 2006. Last 3 (in their row) in Breaux Bridge May 6, 2006.

Click for larger versions.

Click here for 2005 photos & new CD, Dominos

Click here to see 2004 photos

2003 Update: Mamou Playboys Release New CD

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The photos above were taken Sept. 21, 2003, during Festivals Acadiens in Lafayette. It was raining off and on throughout the day, but that didn't stop a large crowd of Cajun music fans from gathering to cheer on the Playboys as they performed numbers from their new CD. The shots below were taken the preceding Saturday at the Liberty Theater.
In 2004, Bon Rêve was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Folk Album Category. The album won offBeat Magazine's Cajun Album of the Year Award and the Mamou Playboys received the Best Cajun Band Award.

Bon Rêve, the 2003 release by Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, has generated more excitement among Cajun music fans in Southwest Louisiana than any CD by any band in a long time. In Bon Rêve, the Mamou Playboys have returned to traditional Cajun music performed entirely in French. But, more than that, this CD shows just how rich that tradition has become.

There's a superb twin fiddle medley combining two Dennis McGee tunes; "Aussi toute seule que moi," a song adapted from a Hank Williams number by Vorance Barzas, son of Maurice Barzas, founder of the Original Mamou Playboys; Austin Pitre's "T'as fini de me voir"; the Touchet Brothers' "La vie je croyais je voulais"; two Aldus Roger songs, "La dernière valse" and "OST Special"; Lawrence Walker's "La valse de malchanceux"; and two songs by Belton Richard, who continues to be one of the most popular song writers and performers in contemporary Cajun music: "Jamais une autre chance" and "Paradis des musicians." The Playboys put their own stamp on all of these songs, but especially in their transformation of Lawrence Walker's "Evangeline Waltz" into "Evangeline Waltz Two-Step." As the liner notes explain, Lawrence Walker sometimes transformed two-steps into waltzes, so David Greely has returned the favor by revving up Walker's song into an addictive two-step that charges you with energy so that you want to hear it over and over.

The Playboys also offer their versions Creole music: Amédé Ardoin's "Blues de prison" and Carlton Frank's "Oh, mom," the song made popular by Keith Frank with his Creole Connection band. The CD ends with "La chanson de Savoy," sung a cappella, similar to the band's previously recorded "Je m'endors," but made even more evocative without instruments (and in this version the brunette gets everything and the blonde nothing).

There are four original numbers: David Greely's fiddle tribute to Cajun storyteller Marion Marcotte; "Vini, Jilie," based on a Creole poem written by a slave named Pierre ("Gros Jean" on the band's Happytown CD is another such poem); "Maline," an original song by Steve Riley, David Greely and Jean Arceneaux about a Cajun girl who wants to pretend she's not Cajun; and the title song, "Bon Rêve," Sam Broussard's wonderful tribute to to the Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot, with an arrangement that begins with twin fiddles, triangle, and Broussard's vocals, joined by Riley and Greely, then picks up speed with drums and Broussard's guitar, and, in classic Mamou Playboy style, gains even more energy when Riley adds his accordion.

The CD was released by Rounder Records.

Click here for more photos, including a photo of the entire band.

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Visit the Official Web Site of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.

Click here to see shots from the live ABC-TV broadcast in Erath, July 4, 2002.

Click here for 2001 pictures of the Playboys taken at the Eunice Cajun Prairie Folklife Festival.


Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys are one of the top Cajun bands. They tour worldwide while retaining strong ties to their roots in Acadiana where they perform regularly at area festivals, in night clubs, and, of course, in Mamou the night before Mardi Gras. Born in Mamou in 1969, Riley was playing accordion by age 7, and by age 16 he was touring with Dewey Balfa, who helped him learn to play fiddle. With the formation of the Mamou Playboys in 1988, Riley has become a major force in Cajun culture, bringing new vitality to traditional songs while adding new songs and incorporating zydeco, swamp pop and other musical styles.

David Greely grew up near Baton Rouge, remote from Cajun life, but after embracing the Cajun heritage of his grandfather and the French language, he has enriched that heritage through his skills as a songwriter and his interpretations of songs from the past.

The band has undergone changes. Roddie Romero joined the band playing slide guitar after the tragic death Jimmy Domengeaux in a traffic accident in early 1999. In fall 2000, Sam Broussard replaced Romero. Blaine Gaspard now plays bass, a slot previously held by Kyle Hebert  (who had joined the Playboys after Peter Schwarz  left to work on an MBA at the University of Texas). Kevin Dugas plays drums for the Playboys.

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, the group's first album, was released in 1990, followed by 'Tit Galop Pour Mamou (1991), Trace of Time (1993), Live! (1994), La Toussaint (1995), Friday at Last (1997), and Bayou Ruler (1998).

Though the 1998 release features several songs in English, the Mamou Playboys remain faithful to the spirit of Cajun music, offering new songs in French and new interpretations of traditional songs like "J'ai Été-Z-Au Bal" and "Je Suis Pas un Couillon," as well as several zydeco songs with Zydeco Joe Mouton performing on rubboard.

In 2001, the Playboys released Happytown. The album begins with Aldus Roger's "Creole Stomp" and Leroy Broussard's "Big Boy Waltz" before moving beyond traditional Cajun music to explore new ground: "Gros Jean," David Greely's haunting song drawn from a poem written in the early 1860s by a Creole slave; and his "Les vigilants," with Greely handling vocals, acoustic guitar and fiddle.  On "Patoutville," Greely is accompanied by Riley on guitar and Kevin Dugas on triangle. "La crève de faim" or "Starvation 2-Step" is another original Cajun song with Riley's instantly recognizable accordion work.

The final two songs blend in elements of pop music, but the Playboys are very much creating their own unique sound in "Éclairs de chaleur," with Greely on tenor sax and Derek Huston on baritone sax. and in "La Pointe aux Chênes." Both songs convey a sense of joy mixed with foreboding, a volatile combination of unpredictable emotions.

The album's cover depicts Moreauville during the great 1927 flood (the ironic title "Happytown" floats above the flood waters). The inside photo from 1937 shows dancers in a Raceland bar. Neither image refers directly to the songs, but together they do suggest the range of emotions explored in an excellent album that fans of earlier Playboys' music will find different but rewarding.

The album's title was suggested by an Opelousas Toyota dealership that proclaims itself "Happytown U.S.A." uses "Creole Stomp" in all of its advertising (you can glimpse a Courvelle Toyota ad playing on the TV in the background during an early scene in the movie Passion Fish).

In the top picture, Steve Riley is shown during an August 1999 performance in Eunice. Underneath, he is pictured at the 1999 Church Point Buggy Festival playing his usual single row, ten-button diatonic accordion, and playing a red three-row accordion in the zydeco style during a performance of a swamp pop group in Lafayette. David Greely is pictured at Festivals Acadiens in 1999 and playing saxophone with the swamp pop group. Immediately beneath the first picture of Greely, Sam Broussard is shown on guitar during Downtown Alive! in Lafayette September 13, 2001. Roddie Romero is shown at Festivals Acadiens, where the picture below was also taken, with Kyle Hebert at right. The other pictures of Steve Riley were taken in Eunice on Mardi Gras afternoon in 1999 while he was playing the "Mardi Gras Jig" as the courir paraded down Second Street and Monday night before Mardi Gras in Mamou in 1998. The picture immediately below was taken at Downtown Alive! in Lafayette September 13, 2001. It was shortly after the September 11 terror attacks, and, in addition to Cajun songs, Steve Riley sang "The Star Spangled Banner."

The photos at the bottom of the page were taken during Louisiana Folk Roots Heritage Day on April 20, 2002, the culminating event of Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Week at Lake Fausse Point State Park. The single photo of Steve Riley was taken during a workshop on accordion music (Preston Frank was the other accordionist, with Kevin Wimmer on fiddle). The photo of the band performing in the main tent was taken early in the evening. Shown from left are David Greely, Steve Riley, Blaine Gaspard, Kevin Dugas, and Sam Broussard.

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Updated 9-27-03

All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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