You Can Dance a Waltz, You Can Dance A Two Step…
Louisiana music and culture are topics that I have not shied away from in these humble pages. In fact, I’ve tried to get behind any initiatives geared towards promoting and growing those legacies here and beyond. Few have excited me more than an idea conjured up by some folks here who, despite their perceived youthfulness, have been working on and building a mature new cultural entity that takes its inspiration and “Roots” from some of the oldest notes in the pages of South Louisiana’s history.
The first incarnation of the Roots Revival was A Celebration of SWLA Music History and it took place this past April. This show rolled back the time machine to the music that was our community when what we call Cajun and Zydeco and Swamp Pop were all coming to be. The collaboration between the SWLA Arts and Humanities Council, the City of Lake Charles, local “Country/Soul/Rock and Roll” act Sinners, the Itinerant Theater and numerous other artistic and musical guests brought an inspired panorama of sights and sounds that beautifully summarized the history and impact of SWLA’s music.
But as time moves on, so does the story of South Louisiana music, which brings us to the next chapter of Roots Revival, this one called Evolution
You Can Dance the Slow Drag, You Can Dance The Zydeco…
Returning to the creative seats for Roots Revival are the Arts and Humanities Council’s own Jody Taylor and Sinners band leader Charles Lyons, who are no less passionate about their second such adventure than they were their first, but for these friends and long-time collaborators, that’s really no surprise according to Lyons, who says they’ve come a long way from putting on punk rock shows.
“We play off of each other’s strengths,” says Lyons. “He is really good at what he does and I would like to think that I don’t completely suck at what I do… (laughs) and I really do have a killer band behind me. I like organizing stuff like this. I like working on it. I like playing it. It has a lot to do with the subject matter, too. It is something that I am really passionate about.”
Taylor, who has taken the helm of writing this Roots Revival show, tells us that it does dip back into the roots, but also showcases where those sounds and those types of music are still happening, even today.
“Evolution starts at the beginning with the first Cajun music recording by Joe Falcon and Cleoma Breaux, then traces the development of French music to the present,” he explains. “Very excited about performances by Zydeco torchbearer Sean Ardoin (who will appear on a performance of an Amede Ardoin song!) and the Lost Bayou Ramblers, who are taking Cajun roots music to the next level and making it interesting for a brand new generation.”
And the “new” is just as important as the old, adds Lyons, who says while the first show was specifically about the people that made a significant impact on music at large from this area, the new show turns it toward where it has come and where it is going.
“People like Sean Ardoin and Lost Bayou Ramblers are doing all that same music, but they’re doing it in ways that they would have never thought of in the 1920s,” Lyons says. “They’re no less Cajun or Zydeco. They’re still very deeply rooted in where that came from.”
The Lost Bayou Ramblers hold a special place in Lyons’ heart. “They played at my wedding!” he laughs. “But then, we had the opportunity to play with them at Luna a couple of years after. I mean, the guys have been nominated for a Grammy. These guys and Feufollet and the Pine Leaf Boys are the future of Cajun music. Their bringing some wild rock and roll and it’s dangerous and it’s loud but it’s still legacy. That’s what I love about Lost Bayou. They’re like us. They’re deeply rooted in what they’re rooted in but they’re not afraid to experiment and take it somewhere else. I mean Andre plays that accordion through a wah pedal, man. That just WILD, man!”
And not only will this Roots Revival be a musical one, but it will be a cinematic one, as well. Taylor adds that the show will also be featuring scenes from the Roots of Fire film project from Lake Area native Jeremy Lavoi and wife Abby, which is a an ongoing documentary film project showcasing the newer artists of the South Louisiana music scene. Taylor says that the San Francisco-based couple wanted to put their careers and experience in the television and film world to use, shining a light on Louisiana musicians such as Pine Leaf Boys, Lil’ Nathan and Feufollet.
“These groundbreaking artists, among many others, are the current generation of Louisiana French music, based in a culture that’s not only alive and well, but distinct and vibrant, ever evolving from a foundation already rich with history. With Roots of Fire, Abby and Jeremey Lavoi aim to bring Louisiana’s progressive French music and its story to the world.” (“The Jambalaya News” Vol. 8 No. 9 – August 2016)
Both of these young men say that they are hoping to bring that same spirit to Roots Revival: Evolution and hope that it, too, may find itself yet another shining moment in the time line that is our beloved South Louisiana.
“It’s like Dewey Balfa said,” Lyons adds. “’Tradition is like a tree. You have to water the roots to keep the tree alive, but at the same time, you can’t go cutting off its branches every time it tries to grow.’ He couldn’t be any more correct.”
It Don’t Matter What Ya Dance…
A culture that is as unique as ours is a hard thing to find and not one that you can replicate. There is an inherent honesty and authenticity to our music, our food and even our personalities that sets us apart from the world. As time moves on, it will always be important to hang on to the things that brought you to where you are culturally. But, it’s also important to recognize where and how that culture is growing and adding to the tale that is the music and lives of where we all come from.
To see the younger generations not just recognizing their roots but embracing both the origins and the future is an exciting notion, but it is also weaving more of the tale of who we are, what we do and were we come from and will, in time, be the very stories of yesteryear that the Amadie Ardoins and Joe Falcons and Cleoma Breauxs are to us today. They are the new legacy and as long as they continue on this path of both heritage and innovation, then they too will be part of that eternal fabric that is those who have shaped and defined South Louisiana heritage, music and culture. I, for one, hope those stories and songs are shared for many generations to come.
Something Is Happening Here…
Thursday, November 10 – Roots Revival: Evolution – Central School’s Ben Mount Theater
If you attended the first Roots Revival show, you know what a monumental night this will be. Tickets are $15 and are available by searching Roots Revival at www.eventbrite.com. For more information on Roots Revival or on the Arts Council, please visit www.artscouncilswla.org. For your own sake, GO SEE THIS SHOW!!!
JMLC Pet Sounds Giveaway!
That’s right! We are in the middle of another giveaway here at JMLC and those of you who read our last installment know that we are celebrating 50 years of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds with our next vinyl giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a copy of Pet Sounds (mono reissue – incorrectly said 50th Anniversary Edition Vinyl last issue. That set is a CD set, not vinyl. OOPS!) courtesy of the Lake Area’s newest home for vinyl enthusiasts The Round About AND… we have a new prize to add to the package!
The good folks over at Da Capo Press were groovy enough to send us a hardbound copy of the brand new I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir (released on Oct. 11) to sweeten up the Pet Sounds Prize Pack! A big thanks to Da Capo Press and to The Round About (where the prizes are currently on display) for having some fun with us and sharing in on the excitement that is 50 years of Pet Sounds!
Now…. How do win all the lovely things? Well, that’s EASY! All you have to do is answer a Pet Sounds-related trivia question and if you get it correct, you’ll go into a drawing to win your very own vinyl copy of Pet Sounds and the new Brian Wilson memoir. Submit answers via email to mailto:JMLC@justinmorrisentertainment.comno later than midnight Thurs., Nov. 24 (Thanksgiving Day). All entries should include your first and last name and your guess to the following question:
“While Brian Wilson did use the legendary “Wrecking Crew” to provide his “orchestra” for this record, he brought in some other studio musicians as well, including one artist who as of today has released 70 albums under their own name, netted numerous Grammy awards and charted over 80 times, who is credited with offering guitar and/or banjo tracks to 5 of the 15 tracks on Pet Sounds. Who is this artist?”
Simple! A big thanks to those who have already submitted their answers and as for the rest of you, I’m looking forward to seeing those emails roll in between now and Thanksgiving. The winner will be announced right here in JMLC in our issue hitting stands on December 1. Best of luck to you all!
I will see you back here in two weeks or I will… SEE YOU AT THE SHOW!