Lost Bayou Ramblers Waltz Their Way to Wilkesboro’s Merlefest 25
“Merlefest always attracts such a diverse range of artists, the people that come to see that kind of line-up want to experience so many types of music; Merlefest really shows the people who are working at their music and bringing new things (musically) to people” explained Louis Michot, co-founder and front-man of the South Louisiana based Lost Bayou Ramblers.
Last spring, Flying Rooster had the opportunity to witness the Lost Bayou Ramblers perform in their first Merlefest appearance. They certainly fit the bill that Michot explains of Merlefest, “working hard at their music and bringing new things to people.” FR had been introduced to traditional Cajun music when studying Old Time Appalachian Music, and while the LBR had elements of traditional Cajun music it sounded and felt anything but traditional.
Just shy of a year later and a week prior to their second Merlefest showing, we talked with the band about everything from their roots to group chemistry to their new album Mammoth Waltz. Check out the interview below, check out their new album here or on Spotify, and if you want to experience music you have never seen before, meet up with us at Merlefestthis weekend. LBR play Thursday @ 4:15 on the Watson stage and Friday @ 1:30 on the Americana stage. Get your dancin’ shoes ready!
FR:“You and your brother (and LBR co-founder) Andre grew up playing music in your father’s band correct?”
LBR:“My dad his 5 brothers played together in a traditional Cajun band, Les Frères Michot, we would fill in where we could, you had to start by playing the Triangle, then bass guitar, and so on. We then picked up fiddle and the accordion more on our own a little later”
FR:” We understand the Cajun influence, where do the other aspects of your musical influence stem from?”
LBR:“Cajun music really came from a direct personal connection through the family, it was just a fact of life, meanwhile we were listening to Micheal Jackson and Led Zeppelin. We didn’t start really listening to Cajun music until later in life, we freely accept those influences and don’t discount it from being authentic Cajun, what we call traditional now wasn’t called traditional then and had it’s own outside influences as well. Cajun music is our blood so that’s what we play but we love all music, we don’t discriminate.”
FR:“Since the formation of LBR in 1999, have you seen a rebirth of Cajun based music?”
LBR:“Oh yeah, it’s a lot more hip for our generation, nationally it’s been really interesting ,we played a lot on streets of Brooklyn, staying there for three months in the summer, putting together our tour, and back then were only ones really doing that (playing Cajun music), now you almost expect it”
FR:“I had the opportunity to see you guys live last year and the energy was flowing wide open and non-stop, where does all the raw energy flow from…are you guys slamming a case of red bull or monster before you take the stage?”
LBR:“Quite the opposite really, we’re pretty mellow and low key guys, when it comes to playing music I just have a need for this real hardcore energy, the rhythm feeling pushes the excitement, we want to give those watching the experience we want ourselves, feeling the music. If it moves you, open eyes or closed, as long as the music is moving you inside or out, its a feedback thing, we give first off and what the crowd gives back helps us give, but we’re always giving 100%.”
FR:“It takes such a delicate balance to make a band last a long time together due to the mix of elements required, and then more so to still enjoy what they are doing (playing music, lots of travel time, as well as a great deal of quality time together; How would you briefly describe what each member brings to the band (musically or otherwise) that helps create that balance?”
LBR:“Our personalities mesh to where we keep each other in line, but we have a very fun time and are easy going, we are very professional when it comes to our job but love being musicians because we are our own bosses. Certainly after 15 hours in the van you can get on each others nerves, but we definitely communicate enough. That’s part of keeping a band together is being able to spend those long hours together, we entertain ourselves a lot with lots of inside humor too.”
FR:“Does the absence of solos in Cajun music say something about the Cajun culture?”
LBR:” To work together, I mean we’re all working together to make this happen. It’s not about praise or ego, its about humbling down and coming together as a community, which really says a lot about how we have made it.
FR:“The heaviness of the waltz on your new album, you describe as mammoth in feeling, this is almost an oxymoron, what conclusions is a listener supposed to draw from this?”
LBR: “The thing with waltzes, or with Cajun music is that is has become very simplified, mainly two steps and waltzes. Back in the day there was a lot more rhythm, we really like the two time waltz, some are faster than the two steps and we like how they feel, we want to bring that back. When you bring something back that old its like bringing back a mammoth, we aren’t not going traditional, we’re going archaic, way old school.”
If you can’t make it to Merlefest this year, make sure you check these guys out online at LostBayouRamblers.com and see them live ASAP!