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Lost Bayou Ramblers & Cajun culture

Desert Dancer 07 Jul 12 - 04:45 PM
katlaughing 07 Jul 12 - 09:53 PM
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Subject: Lost Bayou Ramblers & Cajun culture
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 04:45 PM

The other day the New York Times had this article in the "Home & Garden" section: At Home With Louis Michot: Song Man With a New Métier. The article was ostensibly about the home that the fiddler and singer has built with the help of friends and family, but it also paints an interesting picture of this young musician's life and interests. Here are the music bits:
The Lost Bayou Ramblers, with his brother, Andre, on accordion, are touring again this summer. There are shows this Friday night at the Pleasure Lounge on Shelter Island; Saturday night at Sullivan Hall in Manhattan; and July 13 at Yale University in New Haven.

Mr. Michot's primal yawp also resounds from the opening scenes of the swampland fantasy "Beasts of the Southern Wild," which won the Sundance grand jury prize in January, and rolls into theaters this month. He possesses one of the great keening voices of Cajun music — "an old man's voice," said the band's former guitarist, Korey Richey — and a loose-limbed fervor.

"It's kind of rare for a fiddle player to pop a string," Mr. Richey, 25, said. "And he'll pop two a show." Mr. Richey, who recently left the band to help engineer a project with the rhapsodic Montreal band Arcade Fire, also produced Mr. Michot's new album, "Mammoth Waltz."

On these raucous tracks, the Lost Bayou Ramblers sound Cajun in the same way the Pogues once sounded Celtic. Which is to say, they do and they don't.

"Everyone calls us Cajun punk," Mr. Michot said. "I don't know what that means."

WHEN he started work on the house in 2004, Mr. Michot already knew, "We can't hit the road forever." He added: "As a single musician, I wanted a place to rest my bones between touring."

"Then it became a mansion, because he met a woman," Mrs. Michot said.

On their very first date, she recalled, he asked her to pick him up at a gas station in Milton, La., a rumor of a town largely defined by having a gas station. "He said his truck was in the shop," she said. When she pulled up, "he was on his bike with a six-pack of beer, eating a boudin breakfast" (a pork sausage).

They drove off to collect a song from an old Cajun sorcière, or medicine woman, named Ethel Mae Bourque, who had recently sung it to her dying father as a kind of musical palliative. Mr. Michot ultimately gained a few important things from the visit: a wife, for one; a collection of field recordings with Mrs. Bourque; and a pile of cypress beams that now run through his house.
Mr. Michot did his residency in Cajun culture every Monday night for more than a dozen years at a restaurant called Prejean's in Carencro, filling out the rhythm section of Les Frères Michot. Led by his father and his uncles, the band boasted a repertory of some 500 traditional songs.

One evening when he was 16, he recalled, "my Uncle David wasn't there, and they needed a bass player. They threw me onstage with a standup bass. I learned it right there."

In his late teens and 20s, Mr. Michot took a fiddle on the road, busking across the United States and French Canada. College didn't stick, a family tradition of its own. "My grandpa dropped out of college after a semester and he became superintendent of education for the whole state," he said. "I took my inspiration from him."

He learned more from a two-week course in permaculture. From this ecological movement, he adopted a vision of a bountiful, self-sufficient homestead. (One of the first things he did after buying this eight-acre property, for $15,000, was to plant 1,000 trees in a horseshoe around the prairie. He later founded the Cultural Research Institute of Acadiana, a nonprofit he runs out of his studio, to gather heirloom seeds and oral histories from traditional South Louisiana growers.)

Great writing in this article. These lines (which made me laugh),
On these raucous tracks, the Lost Bayou Ramblers sound Cajun in the same way the Pogues once sounded Celtic. Which is to say, they do and they don't.

"Everyone calls us Cajun punk," Mr. Michot said. "I don't know what that means."

are probably because the band uses drum kit and electric guitar. But, it sounds totally authentic, much the way waila is still waila, even though it doesn't have fiddles at all any more.

Here's the band's web site with some tracks to sample: Lost Bayou Ramblers.

I'm looking forward to seeing Beasts of the Southern Wild when it comes around here.

Here's the web site of the Cultural Research Institute of Acadiana.
Created in 2007, the Cultural Research Institute of Acadiana (CRIA) seeks to sustain the culture, agriculture, and traditions of South Louisiana through collecting edible, medicinal, and generally useful seeds and knowledge on living sustainable in Louisiana. In the natural disaster prone region of South Louisiana, CRIA is creating a bank for seeds and traditional knowledge through an online database accessible to the public. This will ensure the knowledge of Louisiana's elders is recorded and passed on to the future generations.

More power to such energetic and creative people.

~ Becky in Tucson

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Subject: RE: Lost Bayou Ramblers & Cajun culture
From: katlaughing
Date: 07 Jul 12 - 09:53 PM

I love their sound, Becky. Thanks!!

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