Monday, January 10, 2011

Modern Louisiana French Music

Louisiana is known to the French world for being somewhat of a lost cause, a former French colony that was sold to America and has by now all but lost its ties to the Francophonie of the world.  Well one of the main ways it has remained in the Francophonie is via its French music.  People all over the world love our Cajun music, and Zachary Richard is seen as somewhat of a God to the French Canadians.

Back in the day there were those who thought the fate of Cajun music was forever doomed because young people no longer speak French, but this train of thought has been shed away just as fast as it was written.  While the fate of the future of the Louisiana French language is shaky, the music will never go away.

Several of today's modern Cajun musicians who are instigating this cultural music revolution are

Pine Leaf Boys

Even though this is an old recording since Cedric Watson (the fiddle player) and Blake Miller (the bass player) have been replaced by Courtney Granger and Thomas David, this is a pristine example of a fine young Cajun group.  They so far have released 4 records and are always touring.  What makes this group especially popular is that Wilson Savoy, the accordion player, is the son of the world renowned accordion maker, Marc Savoy, and Courtney Granger is the great-nephew of Dewey Balfa, one of the famous Balfa Brothers who helped trigger the first Cajun music revitalization back in the 60s.

Lost Bayou Ramblers

This is a high energy group led by brothers Louis and André Michot.  Their music focuses towards a more roots-based sound, relating it back to the days whenever Cajun music was all about the swing, such as during the 30s whenever bands such as the Hackberry Ramblers were popular in Louisiana and bands such as Bob Wills were popular in Texas.


Feufollet is a band that's been around for a good while now, having been started by Chris Stafford and Chris Segura whenever they were youngsters.  This band features the talent of Anna Laura Edmiston, who was raised in both Lafayette Louisiana and Québec, making her somewhat of a rarity of the Cajun music scene for she plays in Louisiana but speaks Canadian French fluently.  This band is the one of the ones to watch in the upcoming years for their newly released record, En Couleurs, features some songs that break away from the typical Cajun sound, but are still sung in French with fiddles and such.  Not long after its release, Elvis Costello called En Couleurs one of the most melodic of records released that year.

Cedric Watson & Bijou Créole

Cedric Watson got his official big break with the Pine Leaf Boys, although he got his original break in his home state of Texas from the (then) radio DJ, JB Adams out of Houston.  Cedric's family is from Louisiana and he wanted to get in touch with his roots so he learned the violon and the concertina in Texas, and JB Adams introduced him to several zydeco players in Houston, and eventually introduced him to Ed Poullard and Goldman Thibodeaux who would help him refine his playing even more.  Down the line he joined the Pine Leaf Boys and made 2 records with them, their 2nd record, Blues de Musicien, was nominated for a Grammy.  Cedric went solo after that and has made 3 records on his own.  Michael Doucet has said that the state of Creole French music was saved by Cedric Watson, for until he came around there really had not been any very famous Creole musicians that everyone knew of apart from Canray Fontenot and Bois-Sec Ardoin, who both recorded during the 60s and early 70s.

Red Stick Ramblers

The Red Stick Ramblers are a band that has been around for a while and has seen several musician changes, the most notable one being that Joel Savoy helped create the group but left to do other things.  Joel Savoy is the brother to Wilson of the Pine Leaf Boys, and the other son of famed Marc Savoy.  The RSRs of today are spearheaded by the twin fiddles of Linzay Young and Kevin Wimmer, and their sound is a refreshing taste of the old music à la Django Reinhardt, Bob Wills, and early Cajun music.  They sing in both English and French for they play the old style of music from whenever the fiddle was the main instrument of a band, but for a modern audience.

Isle Dernière

In my personal opinion, I saved the best for last.  Isle Dernière is one of its kind, they're a band that plays classic rock but sung in Louisiana French, making them Louisiana's only Louisiana French Rock group, as they say.  They don't have any recorded music yet, but they are steadily making a name for themselves in Canada, for this past year they played the Festival Acadian in Caraquet on the same night as the popular Joseph Edgar, and the great Swing.  Isle Dernière is easily the band to watch for 2011 for if I may say so, if and whenever they release a CD, it's going to hit it big if it's marketed well.