Honky-Tonk Merry Go Round
902 Johnson Street
Thursday, December 30, 2011
Last night was the closest I've felt to being bowled over by a dry land tidal wave, a benign force of nature in keys of A or C or D-flat, that washed over a room full of spectators at a little bar called ARTmosphere in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Joel Savoy decided to organize a celebratory end of the year jam. A talented musician and producer for his label Valcour records, the guy knows just about every up and coming singer, songwriter, and musician in the Cajun community surrounding Lafayette. Tonight, Joel had a honky-tonk merry-go-round in mind. What ensued was a kick out the doorjambs night of honky-tonk, country, rockabilly, and certified rock 'n roll.
With the exception of fiddler David Greely, everybody else who paraded to the stage hasn't seen much of this side of 30. Joel Savoy (fiddle), Chas Justus (guitar), David Greely (fiddle), Wilson Savoy (piano), Rose Sinclair (steel guitar), Eric Frey (bass), and Glen Fields (drums), got the show rolling and then it was, ”Move the chaise lounges back from the shore, mama, this wave is coming on strong.”
Rose Sinclair, David Greely, Eric Frey, Chas Justus, Glen Fields, Joel Savoy, Wilson Savoy
Every one of these musicians could carry a show all by her/himself. They play in bands like The Red Stick Ramblers, The Pine Leaf Boys, Bonsoir Catin, Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys, Girl Howdy, The Savoy Family Band, Lafayette Rhythm Devils… the list goes on.
Although they know each other, they rarely have the chance to rock out together. The result was playful, pedal to the metal, full bore performances. They let it loose like kids at recess.
Traditional Cajun music may course through their veins but doesn’t limit their inspiration. Local radio stations across south central Louisiana play an astonishing variety of country, rock n roll, swamp pop, rockabilly, blues, and rhythm n blues. The fire these performers breathed into the songs they covered showed that they’ve been paying attention.
Yvette Landry rocks out
From time to time Kelli Jones, Joel's fiancé, and Emma Young, who often sing with The Mamou Playboys, and JP Harris stepped onstage to solo and backup. Singer Linzay Young, country singer extraordinaire Yvette Landry, mandolin player Daniel Coolik, fiddler Courtney Granger and several more whose names I didn’t get stepped on to the crowded stage when Joel shouted their names.
ARTtmosphere was jammed with friends and relatives of the musicians, regulars from town and, since New Year is two days away, visitors who learned about if from the grapevine – in my case from my friends Bernard Ussher and his wife Rubia, who have their fingers firmly on the pulse of the vibrant music and dance scene here. Dancers had a field day with every style of two-step you can imagine, Mamou jitterbugs, waltzes, swing, Cajun gigs, and steps they made up on the spot. It was that kind of night.
This short list of songs I could remember are a fraction of those performed tonight… from honky-tonk to country to rhythm ‘n blues… for this reporter, a New Year never got a better jump start than this.
“Don’t Stop The Music” Cajun waltz
“Let’s Fall To Pieces Together” George Strait
“It Won’t Be Long Before It’s Crying Time” Ray Charles
“My Shoes Keep Walkin’ Back To You” Ray Price
“She Thinks I Still Care” George Jones
“I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink” Merle Haggard
“Hand Me A Bottle” George Strait 70s
“Let’s Have A Party” Wanda Jackson
“Hallejullah I Just Love You So” Ray Charles
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr - Photos of pt by Bernard Ussher
The musicians were feelin' it...
and so was pt, dancing with Michelle Kaminsky of Magnolia Cajun Band