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A Musical Gumbo

December 2023
1min read

Cajun Dance Party: Fais Do-Do

Columbia/Legacy CK 46784 (one CD), $13.98 . CODE: BAT-14

The first commercial recordings of the Cajun folk music of Louisiana were made in 1928, just as the discovery of oil in the region was opening up that long-isolated culture to the word. This disc offers twenty-three of the earliest Cajun records, all from between 1928 and 1934, and the music is like nothing else—or a very little bit like a lot of things. The throbbing groan and wheeze of accordions gives it a carnival-like sound with more than an echo of popular French music; the plaintive fiddles and the wails of the raspy-voiced singers sound part European and part bluesy; the foot-stomping square-beat dance rhythms reach back to the nineteenth century. The performers, including Joseph Falcon, the Breaux family, and Amédé Ardoin, an African-American accordionist who was beaten nearly to death at a dance hall after a white woman mopped his brow, all are legends in the music. Everything here, from “Ma Blonde Est Partié,” which remains the “Cajun National Anthem” sixty-five years later, to “Le Blues du Petit Chien,” with its hauntingly kaleidoscopic background churn, is heartfelt and intense.

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