Click the flag to hear the Acadian anthem

Click the flag to hear the Acadian anthem
Fier d'être acadien - Proud to be acadian

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Breathing New Life Into Cajun Music

Living in New England, we are fortunate to have a few venues offering live music events throughout the summer. The Lowell Folk Festival in late July is an affordable (free), family-friendly weekend of great musicians from around the world performing on multiple stages throughout the downtown location. There are food tents to satisfy everyone's taste, games for the kids, and refurbished locomotives offering train rides. Most of the performance tents have seating available for patrons, but some choose to bring a blanket or chair.

One of the highlights for me this year was the young Cajun band Feufollet (pronounced FOO-FILLAY) from Lafayette, Louisiana. I heard two of the five shows they played over the 3-day festival. The seats were all filled before the first show, so I sat on the ground in front of the stage. The empty dance floor behind me did not remain that way for long. When the band kicked off the set with an upbeat Cajun instrumental, young and old alike jumped to the dance floor.

View from my seat

Click here for a short cell phone video of this performance

I never know what the crowd reaction will be when a group who sings in French performs here. Thankfully, I have yet to see an audience be unreceptive. Although most do not understand the lyrics, they enjoy the rhythm, energy and humor of Acadian, French Canadian and Cajun music. A young woman dancing with her Mom saw me singing along with the band. She asked how I knew the words. I told her I bought Feufollet's latest album, En Couleurs, over a year ago. In 2011, En Couleurs was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Cajun or Zydeco category. That's quite an accomplishment for a group whose average age is about 25.

After the first set, the band met with people at the merchandise tent. They were all smiles, making jokes and asking how the crowd enjoyed the show. Each took time to speak with people while they signed CDs.

Their laid back performance style is not just for appearance. It's who they are, polished musicians comfortable in their ability to alter old Cajun standards and make them their own. Unlike some Cajun groups today, Feufollet is not a karaoke machine. Growing up in the heart of Acadiana, they are able to interpret the older music because they understand where it came from. They also write their own original Cajun tunes, play Creole and Zydeco songs, and change instruments regularly during the set.

My view of the 2nd tent

Click hear for a short video of this performance
For another article and a more professional video of Feufollet playing one of their favorite places in Lafayette, click here to visit Valcour Records.

Today's Pop music is mostly digitized, remastered, re-recorded fluff for the iPad generation. If you like real musicians playing actual instruments LIVE, than check out bands like Feufollet, The Pine Leaf Boys, and Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys when they play around New England. You will not be disappointed... and don't forget your dancing shoes.