Thursday, June 02, 2005

Ryan Brasseaux & the Lost Bayou Ramblers

I have this job that sometimes requires me to sit at the back of a lot of rooms listening quietly to people talk about things I know nothing about. Last year, I had to do that at the International Country Music Conference, which is held every year at Belmont and is worth going to for the great food and the incredible view of Nashville (which is only topped by my secret spot for watching the 4th of July fireworks). On Thursday night, folklorist Ryan Brasseaux claimed he was going to talk about a history of Cajun music. Instead, he brought with him the Lost Bayou Ramblers, a Cajun band. You have to imagine, us all shoved in one big room, most of us sitting around tables, and this friendly, dark-hard guy stands at the podium while a handful of other guys, all in their 20s, sit with instruments in hand. Brasseaux would say something about, say, the kinds of music being made in France right before the Acadians left and he'd turn to the band and they'd play us a little bit. Then a folksong from Acadian Canada, then something the Africans brought to Louisiana, and something the early Cajuns would play. And he'd always say, "Listen." Listen, listen for the smooth notes, now listen for the ways the Cajuns incorporated the syncopated rhythms they heard in the music of the slaves. Now listen for this, now listen for that. The band was incredible and you should go see them if you ever have the chance. They must have played for three or four hours without a break, one song to shake your butt to after another. But Ryan Brasseaux is kind of my hero--a person who can guide you around the things and the people he loves and make you feel both that you've been made better by the experience and that you have a stake in their continued well-being.


Blogger Peggasus said...

That's my kind of meeting! As if I know about meetings.

I saw a documentary once about the history of American folk music, and bluegrass music being derived in the same way from medieval English tunes. It was illustrated in the same way: a snippet of this, then a snippet of that. Greensleeves and some plunky fiddle tune. It made me wonder why my brain could not have made that connection itself, it seemed so clear and logical, considering migration patterns and such. I love history.

6/03/2005 07:11:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Me too, especially things like this that seem accessible--you can see it or hear it for yourself. That's pretty awesome.

6/03/2005 04:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that could be true.

1/13/2006 01:02:00 PM  

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