Friday, February 29, 2008

Cajun Cooking at Joe's Pub

Allan and I found ourselves down at Joe's Pub again on Wednesday night. (Most recently, we had been down there to see Rhonda Vincent, as described here.) We were there to see the Red Stick Ramblers, a band that Allan had first told me about several years ago; he used to see them a lot back when he was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, close to the band's homebase in Lafayette.

My memory from the CD that Allan had, um, lent me was that these guys were kind of a raucous string band--like the Hackensaw Boys or the Bad Livers--but I was pleasantly surprised to find a group singing original songs very clearly rooted in the Cajun twin-fiddle tradition.

The group consists of Linzay Young on fiddle and lead vocals (and he is also equipped with loud paisley tie and huge "Louisiana" belt buckle), Kevin Wimmer on fiddle (who studied with Dewey Balfa and plays with Dirk Powell and Christine Balfa in Balfa Toujours), Chas Justus on electric archtop guitar and stage howls, Eric Frey on bass (and if he has earned it, banjo) and Glenn Fields on drums (and triangle when they're really feeling cajun).

I had the pleasant surprise of seeing Sandy Jenkins and her daughter Cassie when we walked in. Rich Jenkins also appeared in the audience at the beginning of the set. (The Jenkins run a wonderful house concert series that I previously have described here.) As it turns out, half of the band was staying at the Jenkins' house. They all know each other from the Ashokan Fiddle Camps.

The band was terrific fun: very lively but also very musical. Chas Justus's archtop guitar had a really great, bouncy sound to it, and the twin fiddles were well-played in the traditional Cajun style. The songs were fun and inventive--even when I couldn't understand them because they were in French.

The set list went like this:

"Rattlesnakin' Daddy"

"Drunkard's Blues" - in French

A fiddle tune written by Eric Frey, featuring Glenn Fields on Cajun triangle

"Made in the Shade" - title track from most recent CD, which is on the Sugar Hill label

"Lazy Southern Summer Day"

"My Suitcase is Always Packed" - a swingy tune about life on the road

Eric Frey sings "Why Now, Baby, Am I Begging You to Stay?"

"When You Smoke That Killin' Jive" - a reefer madness song from the 1930s by pioneering R&B band The Cats and the Fiddle

"Katrina" - a song written during a three-week post-Hurricane Katrina party; Eric Frey played banjo, while Glenn Fields beat the hell out of the neck of Eric's bass

A song was dedicated to the person who had broken into their van on West 89th Street and stolen their bottle of Jameson; the thief did not, however, steal any CDs

"Doggone My Time" - a new song--they were all new to me!--that Linzay Young sang as a honky-tonk weeper

"I Don't Like You as Much as My Last Girlfriend, But It's Better Than When I Didn't Have Any Girl" - in French -- and that's the band's translation

A waltz inspired by naughty raccoons that stole the band's Doritos

Linzay Young took out two thin sticks and played fiddlesticks on Kevin Wimmer's fiddle--always an impressive display; it looked almost exactly like this

Eric Frey said, "This song explains why you shouldn't let us date your daughters." -- "The You Won't Sleep with Me Blues"

Chas Justus gets his turn at the microphone on an "all-encompassing cowboy song" -- "The Cowboy Song"

"Keep Your Hands Off of It" - oh yeah! with super-hot solos from Chas Justus on guitar and both fiddlers

ENCORE: "Main Street Blues" with pizzicato fiddle opening

And then there was a second song in the encore, but I'll be danged if I can read what it was, and all that I was drinking was Ginger Ale (which will set you back five bucks a pop at Joe's Pub, for the record).

1 comment:

Allan said...

That last song was "That's What I Like About the South." A classic from the Coors Light swilling nights listening to the Ramblers at the Blue Moon Saloon in Lafayette.