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A Trip to the Holiday Lounge

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Charivari’s “gris-gris” and musical ritual are sure to please

    Playing Time – 58:44 -- Charivari is a variant of the word “chivaree,” the noisy serenading and partying that friends and family deliver to newlyweds on their wedding night. Thus, the festive, fun-filled and frolicking nature of Charivari’s music is appropriate for a night of revel. They have all the necessary ingredients for rousing Cajun music – lonesome mournful vocals, wailing fiddle, breezy button accordion, and the metronomic beat of the bass and drums. The band demonstrates considerable versatility with a repertoire that doesn’t stray too far from traditional roots while also mixing in a few originals. They embrace an old sound while still making it fresh and contemporary. A number of their Cajun and Zydeco tunes are attributed to Dennis McGee, Nathan Abshire and Michael Doucet. Ebullient performers, Charivari also draws some influence and inspiration from Celtic, Klezmer and Middle Eastern music. In true raucous party form, you don’t even seem to experience much tedium when the two tracks spanning more than 6 minutes cue up. The messages in their songs cover common Louisiana ground about Cajun and Creole people and their lives. Their “Persian/Zydeco Gris Gris” mentions the bayou, oak trees, moss, alligators, swamp gas, werewolves, and Mulattos. In few words, the song paints quite a picture of partying in the swamp. The CD jacket includes the French lyrics and English translations of them. The band’s signature sound balances vibrant vocals and assertive instrumental work. Guitarist J. Randy Vidrine handles most of the singing, with fiddler/accordionist Jonno Frishberg vocalizing on a couple. Mitchell Reed does some impressive bowing of the fiddle. Their rhythm section are two Cajuns who hail from New Orleans -- Alfred "Bo" Ledet (bass) and Matt Swiler (drums). Ledet also plays fiddle on one cut. About 15 years ago, Mitchell and Randy met at a jam session, and the band was started. As the Mamou Prairie Band. three albums were released on Swallow Records between 1993 and 1998. Their debut on the reputable Rounder label (Rounder-069) occurred with the album, “I Want to Dance with You.” These musicians have had much experience performing, touring, recording, and teaching. Their innovation and versatility have been keys to their success. However, one thread holds their music all together. That is their respect for the Cajun culture, the foundations of the music they play, and their desire to see it thrive today. Some favorite cuts include Carollee, It’s My Fault, Knife Fight Reel, and Le Holiday. Charivari’s “gris-gris” and musical ritual are sure to please all who appreciate danceable music with strong traditional roots. (Joe Ross, Roseburg, OR)

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