Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys
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At a time when young Cajun musicians are experimenting with all kinds of exciting hybrids, from funk to hip-hop, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys have taken a more preservationist approach, mixing in carefully written originals with tunes drawn from the rich musical tradition of southwest Louisiana, updating things just enough to keep them vital and fresh. Singing only in French, their albums are part dance party and part history lesson. With Steve Riley on accordion, David Greely on fiddle, Peter Schwarz on bass and second fiddle, Kevin Dugas on drums, and Jimmy Domengeaux on guitar, the Playboys have developed into a confident and elegant band, and Bon Rêve (the title tune is a tribute to fiddler Canray Fontenot) reflects this. The opening track, "Maline," a Playboys' original, is a stately Cajun rocker. The various covers are reverent, careful, and absolutely right. These include a swampy run-through of Belton Richard's sad country lament "Jamals Une Autre Chance" and a Cajun boogie-blues take on Amédé Ardoin's "Blues de Prison," first recorded by Ardoin in 1934. Lawrence Walker's "Evangeline Waltz" loses a beat and becomes a hot 2-step without sacrificing any of its grace. Catch this band when they tour.
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