Not Your Mama’s Accordion Band!

There’s a term used in parenting literature to refer to children who may be a bit too rowdy for their own good.  They’re sweet, decent, loving kids, but they are what we call “spirited”.  Really, it’s a measure of a kid who has lots of youthful, fun , vibrant energy.

And spirited is a word I keep thinking of as I listen to the Blues Box Bayou Band, a Cajun-Zydeco group from California’s Central Valley.  They appear to get a fair amount of play in Northern California at a variety of events where good food, drink, and music can be found.  If you enjoy a mature sound in your music, enjoy traditional Cajun music, and are known to cut a rug once in a while, this stuff is for you.  There’s a feel to it that can be described as rhythmic and bouncy, with depth and quality in the arrangement of the music, a complexity to the instrumentation that keeps the ear busy and having fun.  Their solid sound works adapting cover tunes and traditional songs as well as originals, which make up the majority of their recordings.

I had the pleasure of getting a couple of discs by this band recently and have enjoyed getting to know the music a bit.  One disc, Family Bayou, is a studio album that demonstrates a band that knows how to be crisp and organized, can play effectively together and deliver a solid piece of work.  The other is a live disc recorded in Sonora, California, and suggests that this band feeds and fees off of an audience who needs to move but doesn’t want to wind up in the hospital–and I qualify.

A few tunes stuck out to me on these releases.  “Family Bayou”, the title track on the studio album, is a well crafted ballad about going home in a few ways.  The music is clean and the writing is solid.  “Dragonflies of New Orleans” also stood out from its disc mates as an instrumental piece.  Solid beat, and a lot of variety within the song.  Finally, “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” was one of my favorites on the live album.  This may be due to familiarity with the piece, which was originally performed by Harry Belafonte and covered by the Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, and Roger Whitaker to name just a few.

The Blues Box Bayou Band has an active schedule of performances this summer.  Check their website and see if they’re coming to a town near you!