R. Reese Fuller

Pine Leaf Boys take the Middle East by sand storm

by R. Reese Fuller

The Pine Leaf Boys are in the Middle East for a 16-day tour performing Cajun music. The National reports in "Unquiet Americans":
Assembled in a plush anteroom at Qunicy House, the US Ambassador’s formal residence here in Riyadh, the Pine Leaf Boys were a crew of guileless, fresh-faced Louisianans in their mid-20s. The bassist, a handsome bearded man named Thomas David, had never left the US before. The drummer, Drew Simon, compact and slouching, said he postponed his wedding to attend. The wispy-thin fiddler, Courtney Granger, said he was so nervous about coming to the Middle East that he’d spent the previous two days vomiting.

The Pine Leaf Boys are accustomed to playing smoky Louisiana bars. For their two shows in Riyadh – to be followed by stands in Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, and Jerusalem – their stage would be a tennis court. Covered in Middle Eastern carpets, the court featured an array of formal dining chairs, upon which sat some of the 200 or so polite and quiet guests – a mix of Saudis, Americans, Brits, East Asians and other expatriates – all of whom had passed machine gun nests to enter the invitation-only event.
And here's how The National described the band in a preview of one of its performances.
Take skiffly rhythms, happy-go-lucky accordion melodies and a whooping vocal style, spritz it all up with a bit of southern charm, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a musical tool. The Pine Leaf Boys are dab hands at wielding it, too: they picked up Grammy nods for their last two albums and have twice been decorated by the Cajun French Music Association.