I wasn’t even in my teens yet when I first heard the Mamou Playboys. I grew up listening to them, always keenly aware of “their sound,” as were my peers that were interested in Cajun music in the early 90s. My parents played Cajun music and it was a very important part of my life already, but to see my cool cousin Steve and his band doing it was a whole other ball game.
I think I was 13 years old when I fiddled next to David Greely onstage with the band at Festivals Acadiens as part of a program to pair young Cajun musicians with the pros, and as frightening as that was, they were sweet guys and I felt encouraged to get better. I have always retained that feeling- this is our music and we have to be a part of its continuation and when we have the opportunity to share it or help someone learn it, that’s the religion.
Cajun music faces an interesting world today- there are many that want to see no changes in the music they know from many decades ago, and there are others that strongly prefer newer renditions of the old songs. But where does creating new music fall into a “traditional” culture? What does it take for a brand new Cajun song to become one of those songs that everyone knows?
It takes a band, and band with a sound and with a groove that is unmistakable- a band that knows the old stuff and knows that the old guys would be making new songs today if they were here. It takes a band with courage and vision and that’s who these guys are. Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys have paved the way for many many young Cajuns- they can do it all, from the most hardcore traditional music to the best rock’n’roll you’ve ever heard from a band with an accordion, and we at Valcour are honored to release the 30th anniversary record of our heroes.
- Joel Savoy