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J'ai vu le Loup, le Renard et la Belette

The Balfa Brothers

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Album Review

The Balfa Brothers are the real deal. They were recording Cajun music back before anyone outside of south-central Louisiana knew such a thing existed. This 13-track album, originally released on a tiny regional label in 1976 and reissued untouched by Rounder in 1989, is utterly authentic traditional Cajun music, performed on acoustic instruments with no drums (and only two tracks' worth of accordion, which may disappoint those who equate that instrument with Cajun music) and lyrics sung entirely in the regional Acadian French. (Even the liner notes are in this patois.) What matters is not how "authentic," this music is, however, but how good it is, and that's where this record shines. All 13 tracks (well, technically, track 11 is just a spoken-word introduction to the ballad "Mon N'Onc' Charlot") are utterly outstanding; as driving and rhythmic as music can get on an acoustic guitar and a pair of fiddles, with an unfettered joy in the vocals that comes across even to those listeners who don't understand the language. Those interested in traditional Cajun music would do well to start right here.

Biography

Formed: 1967

Genre: World

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

The Balfa Brothers (Les Freres Balfas) helped keep traditional Cajun music alive in the 1960s, when it was in danger of disappearing. The sons, three of a family of six, were born to a poor southwest Louisiana sharecropper, from whom they learned about traditional Cajun lore and culture. Fiddler Dewey Balfa was heavily influenced by players such as J.B. Fusilier, Leo Soileau, Harry Choates and Bob Wills. He and his brothers — Rodney, who sang and played guitar and harmonica, Will, the second...
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J'ai vu le Loup, le Renard et la Belette, The Balfa Brothers
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