Michael Doucet brings Beausoleil to Schenectady’s Central Park Music Haven Sunday as one of the world’s top Cajun bands, geographically specific yet universal, resonantly traditional and refreshingly original.
Their latest (38th) album “From Bamako to Carencro” knits bold beats from Bamako in Mali, west Africa, to melodies from Cajun Louisiana, and vice versa.
“I tried to do a juxtaposition with the broad view that that music was the same as the music of Louisiana,” said Doucet last week from his home near Lafayette.
Grateful to Hudson Valley trombonist Roswell Rudd’s encouragement through Rudd’s song “Bamako,” shared at a Katrina benefit, Doucet responded with globe-trotting fearlessness.
He wrote “Carencro” about a Lafayette suburb where Malians have migrated (also the title of a Marc Broussard album), and he also vigorously spun James Brown’s soul anthem “I’ll Go Crazy” (in French) and Mississippi Fred McDowell’s blues “You Got to Move” bayou-style, through what he calls “Cajun-ization” (also title of a 1999 Rhino Records Beausoleil compilation) on the new album.
Once a scholar and part-time musician, Doucet has said he “traded (English visionary poet) William Blake for (Cajun fiddler) Dewey Balfa.” Growing up, “I had heard my aunts sing ballads all the time and I never thought much about them,” he said. “But in France I heard those same ballads sung by people my age, and you didn’t hear that in Louisiana.”
Planning to play French festivals for two weeks, they stayed six months, making their first album in 1976 and finding musical roots are…
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