Dec. 2, 2016 09:34 AM
The holidays are special for just about everybody. But for certain sectors of our economy, December and January’s days off are just a little bit sweeter. Road-weary musicians have long looked toward home at these times. A welcome dose of home cooking for both musician and fan, this made the holidays a time when local music fans could catch their favorite local touring bands as they returned home. These shows — for example the incredible line-ups of the Medicine Show — often featured can’t-miss and can’t-be-beat pairings that were seldom possible because of conflicting schedules. Other than talent, there is just a feeling at holiday shows that makes them somehow different from a regular gig.

This spirit is captured on Party at The Holiday, All Night!, the seven-song Christmas release by Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys. Like all those one-shot holiday pairings, The Playboys team with Wayne Toups, Eric Adcock, Paul “Bird” Edwards (who has lent scrubboard sounds and percussion to Geno Delafose, Citizen Cope, Pete Fountain and more), Danny Devillier (Bonsoir, Catin) and more to provide a South Louisiana seasoned soundtrack for holiday gatherings or just those lazy sweater-wearing days spent watching the lights blink and the kids play.

Here, being cultural vanguards and Grammy contenders falls second to having a good holiday time: classic holiday tunes, a couple Louisiana holiday numbers and a few that aren’t standards yet are covered with skill and whimsy. Like any holiday record, Party stays within an expected parameter — no genre will be turned on its head, no earth-shattering surprises will be made. Still, The Playboys put their own fingerprints on the expectations yet don’t make these songs bend to their Cajun repertoire too much.

The record gets a kick start with George Harrison’s “Ding Dong,” a playful number with a department store ad feel that pulls little from their roots and stays true to the Beatle’s 1974 folk-meets-pop-rock. Toups and Riley steal the show sharing vocals on “Please Come Home For Christmas,” Toups shining as the next best thing to Aaron Neville. Adcock adds his funky and soulful organ to “Blue Christmas” and the title track, a cover from the band Mamou’s catalog that draws comparisons to Cypress City’s “Shake That Fess” and “Hot Boudin,” just, you know, not terrible.

The implicit — yet perhaps unintentional — theme of home for the holidays shows up in “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home!),” “All I Want for Christmas, Dear, is You” and “Louisiana Christmas.” On the latter, Riley feels sorry as he sings about hanging his stocking in a hotel room — a theme to which our oilfield workers can relate.

As far as holiday records go, this one is a keeper — destined to come home every year for the holidays. Though these are just being introduced, songs on Party at The Holiday, All Night Long! (just like the band’s take on “La Danse De Mardi Gras”) have potential to be the classic versions of these classic holiday cuts in years to come — at least at south of Interstate 10 holiday gatherings.

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES:

Dec. 8, 9 – Acadiana Center for the Arts

Dec. 16 – Strand Theater, Jennings

Dec. 17 – Liberty Theater, Eunice

Dec. 22 – Rosa Hart Theater, Lake Charles

Nick Pittman is a freelance entertainment and feature writer. To contact him, email pittmanreviews@gmail.com.

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