HUDSON — For over 40 years, Grammy Award-winning Cajun outfit BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet has blended the rich Cajun traditions of Louisiana with elements of zydeco, New Orleans Jazz, country and blues to become the most esteemed Cajun group in music. A twelve-time Grammy Award nominee and two-time Grammy award winner (1998 & 2010), BeauSoleil was the first Cajun Band ever to win a Grammy and has released 25 albums. Perhaps no single band is more responsible for popularizing the unique Cajun sounds of the Louisiana bayou than BeauSoleil, who will laissez les bontemps rouler at Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday, February 16, at 9 p.m.
BeauSoleil is not just about re-creating a traditional sound without lending it a new accent. While they are experts in Cajun tradition, they are equally at home channeling the godfathers of other music as well, by including a Cajun/La La-style reimagining of James Brown’s classic 1962 Live at the Apollo version of “I’ll Go Crazy,” proving that Cajun is just bayou funk, and a swing version of John Coltrane’s “Bessie’s Blues,” suggesting that zydeco is just crawfish-infused bebop. Guitarist David Doucet even tucks an occasional Lester Flatt-style bluegrass G-run into his highly melodic guitar solos. In recent years, the group has been exploring the African roots of its music.
Read a great interview with Michael Doucet here in PopMatters.
On this live clip of the tune “Zydeco Gris Gris,” the group sounds to me like a Cajun band playing klezmer music at a jam-band festival.
The Boston Globe brilliantly noted that, “the remarkable thing about Cajun revivalists BeauSoleil is that they are still inviting us to ask what’s new. BeauSoleil isn’t neo-anything. This ensemble finds freshness not by infusing vintage styles with contemporary sonics, but with vibrant, thoughtful fusions.”
Indeed their presentation of newness and reverence of tradition is the heart of the band. “People know Cajun music being from Southwest Louisiana and because of the longitude and the latitude, but it has influences from all over: Nova Scotia, France, Delta blues, the islands, and the traditional improvisational aspects of New Orleans.
Doucet is also an adjunct professor at the University of Louisiana and a life-long Lafayette resident. On this page on the NPR website, you can hear two songs from a live World Cafe session with BeauSoleil, recorded in 1998. I love this video here, which captures the group in the studio recording “Theogene Creole” for their album, “Alligator Purse.”
As always on an evening featuring Louisiana music, you can expect Helsinki Hudson executive chef Hugh Horner, a native of the bayou himself, to pull out all stops with a menu perfectly in tune with the musique du jour.
P.S. Don’t forget to wear your dancing shoes.
Remember — for reservations in The Restaurant or in the club call 518.828.4800.