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

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The Basin Brothers

Click here for hi res photos of the Basin Brothers on Flickr.

The Basin Brothers in Breaux Bridge, 2003

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In 2003, the Basin Brothers' CD Deux Violins was nominated for a Le Cajun Award as "Recording of the Year" by the Cajun French Music Association, and Al Berard was nominated for the Fiddler of the Year award. Check out the photos of the group at the 2003 Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, with Maegan Berard, daughter of Al Berard, on guitar and singing in French. She has also performed with other family members at the Liberty Theater tributes to Hank Williams Sr. and old time country music. For more on the Basin Brothers, see the section below.

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During a workshop at the 2002 Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Day, Al Berard explained that in years past Cajuns from the Atchafalaya Basin in the Breaux Bridge and Cecilia area saw the Cajun Prairie region around Eunice and Mamou as a distant enclave.   The isolation of the different regions of Cajun culture has long since been overcome, but the distinctive traditions have not been forgotten and now provide a rich musical heritage for Cajuns playing in the 21st century.

All members of the band the Basin Brothers are natives of the Atchafalaya region, and they all come from families with ties to the water. Al Berard's father trapped and crawfished, and other band members have similar backgrounds.

According to Pat Nyhan, Brian Rollins, and David Babb in their guide to Cajun and Zydeco music, Berard and his friends started a band named after the Basin in 1982. The first albums were released on the Flying Fish label, beginning with Let's Get Cajun in 1990, which received a Grammy nomination in the traditional folk category, and Staying' Cajun in 1991. Danny Collet was featured on accordion and vocals. Errol Verret subsequently joined the band on accordion. In 1996, the Basin Brothers released Dans la Louisiane. Berard wrote and sings the title song, and the CD also includes classic songs like "La Valse du Pont d'Amour," "Mulberry Waltz," "Lacassine Special," and "La Valse de Reno."

The photos at right misrepresent the music found on the Basin Brothers' latest CD, which consists entirely of twin fiddle tunes, but they do say something about Al Berard's generosity in helping his fellow musicians in every way he can. On a memorable Saturday in February 2002, the Basin Brothers performed music from their new CD, Deux Violons, at the Liberty Theater. In the closing numbers they invited Wilson Savoy, son of accordion player Marc Savoy, to play with them. Wilson regularly helps out with the sound system at the Liberty, but it was his first time to play on stage, a performance that was greeted by prolonged applause.

Released on the band's own label, Old Man Records, the CD features songs from an era in Cajun music that predated the accordion, as well as several original songs. The CD begins with a spirited version of "Jump the Fence" (originally recorded on   Dans la Louisiane), then steps back in time to an old-fashioned Dennis McGee waltz, returns to a more modern fiddle sound with "Evangeline Two-Step," and then offers listeners the beautiful "Fais Do Do Waltz," which apparently is an original composition. Though none of the music is credited, another lovely song, "Tommy's Waltz," is presumably written by Tommy Bodin, who plays bass and guitar. "La Fettes' March" is indeed a march, a rarity on a Cajun album. "Attakapa's Trail," sung in English, is a tribute to the region's native Americans. After several other songs, including "Jolie Blonde," the CD ends with "Pop's Waltz," performed with only twin fiddles and vocals, the way Cajuns played 100 years ago.

In addition to Al Berard on fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, and Tommy Bodin, the other members of the Basin Brothers are Keith Blanchard on drums and triangle, and Faren Serrette on fiddle and guitar.

For more information, including booking contacts, go to the Basin Brothers' official web site.

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berard-england-2.jpg (15821 bytes) Al Berard also plays twin fiddle music with Karen England on the CD Feet Off the Ground, released in 2000 by Swallow Records.   England, who is from Seattle, learned to play the Cajun fiddle with Dewey Balfa. The CD features twin fiddles in the style of Dennis McGee and Sady Courville. They are shown performing at a workshop during Dewey Balfa Cajun and Creole Heritage Day in April 2002.
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All photographs and text by David Simpson.

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