Lineup: Mardi Gras Ball 2014

Steve Riley and Mamou Playboys

2011, Steve Riley Mamou Playboys, Fest International April 29 (12 of 56)

photo from  flickr

Perennial favorites Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys are returning to bring some spirited  Cajun-spiced music to the Mardi Gras Ball once again!

Coming off a year of celebrating their 25th anniversary, the band will surely pack-the-floor with their unique style of danceable Cajun music,  as they do every time we hear them!

Steve Riley plays a button-box that squeezes like an accordion, but shouts hallelujah like a big brass band. The fiddle cracks wise and warm, the guitar falls off the edge of the earth, and the rhythm section is purring rumble like a Coupe DeVille of shark-fin vintage. It all flows as a liquid-smooth groove, topped with three heartfelt voices harmonizing in 17th-century French from the steamy sub-tropics.

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys began over twenty years ago with a reputation for excellence.  Their stunningly clean and cohesive performance of Cajun French music from the backwaters of Southwest Louisiana propelled them into the world music limelight early on, and by their third release, Trace of Time, had garnered them a Grammy nomination in the worldwide field of traditional folk music, another in 2004 for Bon Reve, in 2009 for Live at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and again in 2011 for their latest release, Grand Isle.

From the day they started, they have gone from strength to strength. Never before in Cajun music has a comparable wealth of skills been brought to the same table. When all that heart and all that skill focus on the revelry of a hot two-step, then turn on a dime and deliver an a cappella ballad, then play something that sounds like Howlin’ Wolf fell in lust with a Creole girl, you’ve found the most Cajun music you can find in any one spot. You’ve found Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys.

HOW ABOUT SOME MARDI GRAS!!??  (click the direct video link if below embed not supported)

More about the Mamou Playboys

photo by Hank Randall

Steve Riley, of Mamou Louisiana, is a widely acknowledged master of the Cajun accordion and its singularly powerful sound. There has never been an official competition among Cajun accordionists. Whenever a contest does arise, Steve Riley usually wins it, or judges it. Despite the lack of official metrics or quantifying factors, it remains true that most people think Steve is the best there is, and very few would argue the point. His playing is a standard by which timing, phrasing and ingenuity are measured on the royal instrument of South Louisiana. That, combined with his searing, emotional vocals, songwriting, soulful fiddling and onstage front man charisma have led many to refer to the band simply as “Steve Riley.” For many, that would be enough, but for this band, and its devoted fans, there’s much, much more.

Kevin Wimmer has been playing fidle since the tender age of three.  He performed frequently with Dewey Balfa and learned the essence of the tradition directly from him.  Over the years he has performed most notably all over the globe with Preston Frank and the blues and swing inspired Red Stick Ramblers.  Kevin brings a Creole influence to the Mamou Playboys, as exhitibed by his unique fiddle repertoire and his powerful vocals.

Sam Broussard generates a cyclone of guitar. On acoustic, electric and electric slide he carries the music of his ancestry farther than it’s ever gone, and garners the lion’s share of spontaneous applause for his soloing skills. Add to that his songwriting, arranging and tenor singing and the result is a feast of creativity that can motivate a packed dance hall or a concert audience.

Kevin Dugas on drums and Brazos Huval on bass are a Cadillac V-8 of a rhythm section. Known throughout South Louisiana for their hydromatic groove, they are the Wyman and Watts, the Muscle Shoals, the Double Trouble of the bayous, and they draw crowds in their own right wherever they perform.

For more about Steve Riley and Mamou Playboys, check out their  Website  & like them on  Facebook

C.J. Chenier & Red Hot Louisiana Band

CJ Chenier

photo credit Laura Carbone

We can’t wait to have CJ Return!  He brought the house down in 2012!

As Billboard Magazine Says, C.J. Chenier is “the heir to the Zydeco throne and unparalleled party starter.”

 ”The best living zydeco singer and accordionist.”- Living Blues

This 2011 Grammy Nominee comes from Zydeco Royalty and brings to the crown a new, wild kind of  glimmer!   Born in Texas, CJ is the Creole son of the Grammy Award winning “King of Zydeco”, Louisiana musician, Clifton Chenier.

C.J. Chenier has been having a good time doing what he does for more than three decades. He was still in his teens when he started out, playing in funk bands in his hometown of Port Arthur, Texas.  C.J.’s life changed when Clifton asked his son— who had played saxophone and keyboards before picking up his dad’s instrument, the accordion—to join his Red Hot Louisiana Band.

C.J. Chenier

photo credit Laura Carbone

“My mother told me that he was always saying that when I get old enough he was going to try to get me in his band,” says C.J. “I never thought it was gonna happen.” When that time did come, C.J. admits, he didn’t quite “get” zydeco music at first. “I just didn’t understand it. It all sounded the same to me.  Until I started playing it.  Then I was able to understand what was going on.  But every time I heard it my feet were tapping and my head was boppin’. It was such a fun music and the people partied so hard that I fell in love.”

By the time Clifton passed away in 1987, C.J. knew that his life’s calling was to continue his father’s work—not to play the way Clifton did but to bring zydeco into the present. “My daddy always told me to do the best I can do in my style,” he says. “You master what you do. He told me, ‘Be yourself.’ Clifton Chenier already did his thing. I’m trying to just be C.J. Chenier.”

CJ and the Red Hot Louisiana band has just released a brand new  CD entitled “Can’t Sit Down.” Released on the World Village record label in September 2013, you can have a little listen:

CJ Chenier at Lake George- listen to the second song too… amazing! (click the direct video link if below embed not supported)

Leroy Thomas & Zyedeco Roadrunners

Leroy Thomas“Leroy’s band is the genuine article for some of the best accordion playing in the country; come out and see the master musician … a Jewel of the Bayou!” - Snap Bean Times

Leroy Thomas was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana and raised in Elton Louisiana.  He comes from a family of zydeco musicians.  His father Leo “The Bull” Thomas is the only zydeco musician to lead a zydeco band from the drums.  Leroy’s father has a distinct method of drumming that inspired not only his sons, but is still emulated by many zydeco bands today. Other family related zydeco musicians are Keith Frank, a second cousin on his mother’s side, Geno Delafose, a second cousin on his father’s side, and Brian Terry a cousin on his father’s side –

At the age of 8, Leroy Thomas was learning how to play drums on five gallon paint buckets. Using nothing but little branches off of trees for drum sticks, not knowing he was on his way to becoming a very talented performer. He used a cardboard tube from some old Christmas wrapping paper, and would sing with not a care in the world.

Leroy recalls that he latter heard that a man had an accordion for sale. He grabbed one of his dad’s cassette players, and he and his friends walked four miles into town.  Leroy asked the man, would you take a cassette tape player for that accordion? The man said sure and Leroy played that accordion all the way home down a gravel dirt road in Elton La. with pride and joy.

At the age of 19 Leroy joined his father’s band (Leo Thomas and His Louisiana Zydeco Band).  Together they rocked the crowds at every performance.   Meantime he had become renowned for playing the basic button accordion and the more sophisticated piano accordion.

Leroy’s friendliness and accessibility make’s him especially popular with fans. Over the years some Zydeco artists have added elements of funk, R&B, country, and rock into the Zydeco. But Leroy never forgot what beautiful music he was raised with.

Hot Tamale Brass Band

Hot Tamale Brass BandHot Tamale Brass Band has its origins in the colorful Dixieland band that held forth during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in New Orleans. It was not unusual at Mardi Gras time, and all sorts of special occasions to see a Dixieland band making the environs of the Crescent city resound with the sounds of Dixieland band music.  This Boston-based band has become a tradition here and they lead a spirited costume parade through the crowd.  Catch the spirit, whether you are in jeans and a T, or dressed to a T.   Visit their website:

Celebrate more than two decades of Mardi Gras Parties in Rhode Island.  Loads of Great Music and NON-STOP dancing! Don’t miss out!!