Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys
World Cafe Live
Before I get into the review I have to apologize to the band. Shortly after photographing the concert I came down with a case of Acute Bronchial Pneumonia. It clobbered me until now. So fellas, sorry for the delay.
I got into cajun music quite a while ago and while I still don’t understand the words, if I spoke French I’m sure they would make more sense, they are music to my ears even without the actual music. I don’t want to get into a conversation of the difference between Cajun and Creole but I guess It was originally the Creole patois in “Iko Iko” that caught my ear and made me a believer. It was Dr. John’s version I heard and wanting to sing along looked up the words to learn them.
I have photographed Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys before. They played the Philadelphia Folk Festival a couple of years ago. I’ve also shot Kevin Wimmer, the fidle player before, also at the Philly Folk Fest. He was then playing with the Red Stick Ramblers and Kevin brings his Creole influence to the Mamou Playboys. I had a nice chat with Kevin pre concert and asked him how he got home after playing the Folk Fest as the night he played, Louisiana was hit by Katrina. He took the long northern route across the country and then down.
Well, I have mentioned Kevin so let me run through the rest of the band. Steve Riley, from Mamou Louisiana, hence the name Mamou Playboys, is a widely acknowledged master of the Cajun accordion and its singularly powerful sound. Lafayette Louisiana is known for some really great guitar players, and fiddlers as Sonny Landreth told me one night recently, but back to guitarists, Sam Broussard from Lafayette is one of the best. Kevin Dugas on drums and Brazos Huval on bass are sometimes known as the Double Trouble of the bayous. I took that from the website. Their foundation is what the other three can use their very ample talents on to build the really great sound of the Mamou Playboys.
So, after my bout of pneumonia I still remember some of the songs that stood out to me the night of the show. “Musicians Paradise” was one of those easy Two Step numbers that had quite a few folks up dancing. I guess I should mention here that there was a Cajun Dance class as the opening act so a lot of dancers. “Prison Blues” had some really great accordion as the main thrust of the song. “La Danse de Mardi Gras” is one of those catchy numbers I love but don’t understand a word. Believe me it doesn’t matter. I love it. The show ended with “King Zydeco” a real rocker with Riley’s accordion, Wimmer’s fidle, and Broussard’s guitar tearing it up playing off each other with that really tight rhythm section behind them.
If you aren’t familiar with cajun music the Mamou Playboys are a great place to start your education. Just be ready to be thrilled and be ready to dance.
Mark J. Smith