Geoffrey Himes writes that the emergence of bands like the Pine Leaf Boys, Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, Feufollet and the Red Stick Ramblers has sparked a revival in Cajun music that's spread to a younger generation of locals looking for live music. An NPR blogger was so impressed with The Blue Moon Saloon and its mainstay of young Cajun bands, he ponders whether the South Louisiana trend of younger Cajun musicians could take off in other parts of the country.
Geoffrey Himes writes in NPR's "A Blog Supreme" that the emergence of bands like the Pine Leaf Boys, Cedric Watson & Bijou Creole, the Lost Bayou Ramblers, Feufollet and the Red Stick Ramblers has sparked a revival in Cajun music that's spread to a younger generation of locals looking for live music:
This Jazz Fest appearance was just an example of what happens at Lafayette's Blue Moon Saloon every weekend. On the tavern's half-covered back porch, young Cajun bands play for crowds dominated by twentysomethings going out to drink and dance on a Saturday night - not Baby Boomers looking for exotic culture and aerobic exercise.
As a result, Cajun music has shaken off its museum dust and returned to its origins as social music. It's become more muscular to keep its young audience on the dance floor, and has embraced new songwriting and modern influences to keep those kids coming back. It's a culture that's no longer just preserving its past, but also redefining its present.
While backstage at Jazz Fest in New Orleans, Himes asked Wilson Savoy, son of Cajun icons Marc and Ann Savoy, his thoughts on the potential for these young Cajun bands to join other genres of string bands in attracting much larger audiences across state lines. Savoy says the Cajun French dialect and the accordion are two reasons why the local scene could be less appealing to outsiders, but also adds that the accordion is one instrument that draws dancers to the floor at out-of-state venues:
Young people in Lafayette are used to hearing Cajun French; many of them even make a point of speaking it the way kids in other cities use rap slang - as a way to separate themselves from mainstream culture. But kids in other cities can find it a barrier.
"If you kick off a song with fiddle, the dancers hang back to see what's going to happen," he says. "But once the accordion jumps in, the dancers are right there. And that's as true in Austin or North Carolina as it is in Lafayette. When we play in places like that, we find an audience that's attuned to any music that comes out of a distinctive culture. Even if they didn't grow up in that culture, they can tell if the music is real or fake."
Read more of Himes' blog here.