BeauSoleil delivers Cajun sizzle

Jay Lively

Led by frontman Michael Doucet with his lively fiddle and impassioned voice, the Cajun band BeauSoleil visited Western on Tuesday and delivered a smorgasbord of sounds, songs and emotions while weaving history, humor and storytelling into the performance.

“The music is very simple,” said Doucet, with an animated halo of balding white hair. “It’s a music that comes from an oppressed culture. The reason the music was made in the first place was to share the pains, the troubles and the joys. It was sung in a foreign language different from the rest of the country. I think that makes it closer to the heart.”

Although the lyrics were sung in Creole French, Doucet colorfully narrated the theme and history of each song before the five musicians filled Van Meter Auditorium with music from instruments such as the accordion, washboard, guitar, stand-up base, fiddle, drums and bongos. ?

Each song was noticeably different in temperament, bouncing around the palate of human emotions in no particular order.

“It’s like life, everybody experiences those emotions,” Doucet said. “It’s OK to be sad or it’s OK to be joyous or whatever. The thing that’s important is to share that. When you share that you tap into that whole human spirit thing – that we’re no different from each other.”

Lousiville senior Joel Williams said the group was a nice alternative to other music that is brought to campus.

“I liked everything about that show,” Williams said. “I really liked the accordion and the fiddle, but I wish there were more people dancing.”

The Grammy-award winning band formed in the mid-1970s with a sense of urgency that the history and culture of its Cajun roots were being lost. Doucet said the expression of that history is a potent force in the music they sing and play.

In the band’s infancy it traveled to the small towns of southern Louisiana absorbing the folklore and music of yesterday that shapes BeauSoleil’s music today.

Erika Brady, a modern languages and intercultural studies professor, helped bring BeauSoleil to campus as part of the school’s Cultural Enhancement Series.

“Cajun music isn’t just a musical style in Louisiana, it’s a kind of emblem of cultural identity and has been really for the last 30 years,” Brady said. “This whole energy of interest in Cajun culture is very much rooted in the music and the music has a become a kind of statement about it.”

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