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Smokin Fiddle

BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet. At UCSB’s Campbell Hall,
Thursday, February 15.

Reviewed by Sheyla Molho

BeauSoleil2.jpgWhat a wonderful evening this was to
spend on the bayou. BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet played all night
as though they were speaking their own language. And in fact, they
were. Their Cajun-English is a dialect of French, and not the
French language taught in schools. “Is this Mardi Gras for y’all?”
Doucet asked as the crowd laughed and cheered. What a
concept — Mardi Gras without drinks!

The show began with “Me and Dennis McGee,” which is about a
pioneer of the Cajun fiddle. There was an Irish influence to the
tune, mixed in with modern rock and the resonating echo of a
triangle, all dominated by Doucet’s violin. Between songs Doucet
kept the audience amused with entertaining history lessons, jokes
filled with good humor, and stories of the band’s origins.
BeauSoleil is proud of its origins, even if there is a little black
humor in there, too.

Often the hardest thing for a band to do during a show is engage
the audience, but with music as enchanting as this, and a leader
like Doucet, it seemed easy. For example, take Doucet’s casual
comparison of California to Louisiana. He joked that we
Californians shouldn’t laugh at Louisiana, because we will
eventually fall into the water too. Simple, but funny.

It wasn’t all comedy all night, as the band also incorporated
down-tempo songs into the show. “J᾽aimerai Connaître,” which can be
translated to “I would have liked to know you,” was one such piece
that Doucet sang by going back and forth from French to English.
These romantic songs have their roots in France, but with a whole
lot of Cajun spice mixed in.

BeauSoleil means “beautiful sun,” and this band really did
produce some sunshine in the form of Cajun rhythm. There may not
have been a dance floor in Campbell Hall, but there was plenty of
toe tapping going on. For that night, my left foot had a life of
its own.

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