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THE SAVOY-DOUCET CAJUN BAND "Sam's Big Rooster" Arhoolie CD481

I knew next to nothing about Cajun music before I received this CD. Et in Acadia ego? Not me.

This enjoyable 73-minute album, the fourth from the top-rated combination of Mark Savoy (accordion) Ann Savoy (guitar and vocals) and Michael Doucet (fiddle), is a decent learning aid. They are acoustic musicians towards the traditional end of the spectrum, but in the course of 19 tracks they chuck a heady mix of stuff into the gumbo.

The make-up is unusual, because women are rare in Louisiana Cajun bands. Ann, a Cajun by marriage to Mark, has become a dedicated chronicler of the tradition and her passionate, exuberant singing sounds just right. She contributes two of her own songs in "Party Girl's Blues" and "C'Etait Dessus Un Triste Samedi". There are 10 songs in all, and the excellent notes provide French and English versions of the lyrics - which are often banal, despite the zestful delivery. People are happy or sad, they leave home or die or whatever, but there are no compelling stories or striking imagery to make you care.

I found the instrumental tracks more rewarding. Accordion and fiddle swap leads on some roistering two steps, jigs and waltzes. The highlights are probably two romps recorded live, "Mardi Gras Jig" and "Amédé Two Step", where Savoy inspires Doucet to wring ever sweeter notes from his fiddle by hollering things like "get on it, get up there.. stroke it, baby, stroke it.. keep it up, don't let go.. walk on it.. push it over.. get on top of it, get underneath.. yo,yo,yo, yaargh!".

All good clean fun, and I doubt if anyone does it much better.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 39 of The Living Tradition magazine.