Nue Moon @ the Blue Moon

by Walter Pierce

The annual songwriter showcase features some familiar names from the local music scene as well as some performers unveiling hidden talents.

Part songwriter showcase, part Vaudeville-slash-cabaret-slash-old-time-radio show, the Nue Moon Revue returns to the Blue Moon Saloon Saturday, May 25 for its 8th iteration. Six new featured songwriters, some of them familiar to local music fans, others not so much, will be joined by a stellar house band to showcase three of their original songs.

For organizer Caroline Helm, a Lafayette social worker and musician who notably performed in the stellar all-female roots/country band The Figs and is herself an alumna of the Nue Moon Revue, the concept is all about putting on a show. "I believe in show business," Helm says. I think we have gotten away from the band or show being there for entertainment. The people are paying. The stage is not there just for an artist to be fulfilling his or her dream. The balance of an artist expressing herself for her art mixed with a complete awareness of communicating that art to her audience is what I like. And it is what I try to do with the Nue Moon Revue."

The concept is simple at its core, yet revolutionary for Lafayette. A house band - this year it's guitarist Chaz Justice, fiddler Joel Savoy, bassist Cal Stevenson and drummer Danny Devillier - gets together in the weeks leading up the Revue with the six selected songwriters and learns three of their songs. They have only a couple of rehearsals to get the material down and then, bam!, they perform the songs on a Saturday night. In between sets by the songwriters, the Nue Moon Review presents jingles celebrating the businesses that sponsor the event. This year's sponsors are kiki, Red Arrow Workshop, Parish Ink and Pack & Paddle. The jingles are performed by - wait for it - the Jingleberries. It's all very kitschy and cool and hip, and the music runs the gamut from rock to folk to country to r'n'b.

Helm says she chooses performers "by gut." "I love to find the person who people may know in one capacity and not know at all that this person also writes songs," she says.

The Nue Moon Revue begins at 9 p.m. with an opening set by NMR alumnus Northside Eric & The Southside Playboys. Admission is $10.

Forthwith, here are this year's Nue Moon Revue featured songwriters, according to bios supplied by Helm:

Megan Brown
Megan Brown is from Tepatate, Louisiana where she grew up in a musical family that nurtured her love of music on a daily basis. Megan got her start by singing weekly for the youth group services at her church. Her first experience playing music in front of a large audience was at a three show stint at the age of 16 in her uncle's gospel band. Her musical prowess has grown greatly since then helping front bands such as T'Monde and Les Bassettes. Recently she had the chance to branch out and work with Tiffany Lamson, Danny Devillier, Dallas Griffith and Peter Youngblood. This past year Megan graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Francophone studies and puts her major to use at KRVS where has a weekly show that features recordings from the Archives of Cajun & Creole Folklore called Encore.

Danny Devillier
Danny Devillier is a music teacher at the UL Lafayette, South Louisiana Community College and the Acadiana School of the Arts. Danny was inspired to write music from Greg Radcliff and studied under Ralph Hardimon in drum corps. Danny's musical loves include Idgor Stravinsky, Charles Ives, Danny Elfman, The Police, Peter Gabriel and every '80s song ever written. He claims that Peter Criss, the drummer from KISS, inspired him to play the drums. When Danny is not teaching you can find him playing drums in such notable bands such as Bonsoir Catin and FIGHTs!, and he is one of the masterminds of the new hit show DND and the Mystery Three. The night of the Nue Moon Revue will be his 40th birthday.

James Hebert
James Hebert grew up in Larose, located in Lafourche Parish. Outside of singing and performing some solos in his church choir, James has never taken time to work on playing music outside of church, until now. The only performing experience he draws from was his role as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman as a sophomore in high school, where he claims he made it through okay. James' musical influences include Louisiana and World music and he draws inspiration from people singing about traditions and the life they live. Many people know James, or rather his voice, through his job at local public radio station KRVS. When not working James can be found teaching yoga, fishing, hunting, doing carpentry, creating Louisiana-themed artwork and hanging out with family and friends.

Jessie Lalonde
Jessie Lalonde was born and raised in Lafayette and over the course of 10 years has "bopped" around between Lafayette, Austin and New Orleans to finally finish with a master's degree in occupational therapy. Jessie's love of music began early with living room singing sessions with her dad who loved Neil Young, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and Merle Haggard to name a few. Her first experience playing music was in 2003 when she was asked to join Matt Rock and the Powerbox. Since then she has joined other bands including the all-girl musical trio T-Kette and super group FIGHTs! When not playing music she loves to travel and hates to miss out on a good time.

Tommy Shreve
Tommy Shreve was born in Lake Charles to parents who loved music. When Tommy was 16 he begged/badgered/convinced his parents to get him a guitar. Miraculously, they bought him a fine, slightly used Gibson J45 instead of the entry-level Harmony "campfire special" he'd been eyeballing. After playing in various cover bands into the early '70s, Tommy started writing songs, working on his guitar chops and playing in hippie-oriented outfits around Lafayette. Since then his musical résumé has widened, fronting a group called Big Cheyenne and joining the Red Beans & Rice Revue in the '70s. During the mid-'80s to early '90s Tommy supplied the guitar power for Wayne Toups, Zachary Richard, T.K. Hulin, G.G. Shinn, Warren Storm and Rockin Sidney.

Andrew Toups
Andrew Toups was born and raised in Lafayette and claims there is no place he would rather be. Andrew's passion for music came from a life-changing experience in high school where he saw The Rondelles and knew instantly he wanted to play rock n' roll. Since then Andrew has been writing music and celebrated a milestone at 16 with his first vocal "pop" song. Andrew has certainly grown into his musical talents, playing in locally and nationally recognized bands Brass Bed and Feufollet. Up until now he has never played the role of songwriter which, ironically is his primary musical passion. He professes there is a "whole other world to my musical personality that is largely a secret."