1. GYPSY OVERDRIVE
Call it operatic, gypsy world music or Euro-freak folk, but the quasi-European, Fishtank Ensemble kicks out a fiery mix of vaudevillian ragtime, Parisian folk, and hambone chicken scratch. Fueled by a Transylvanian twin fiddle attack, they formed in 2005, playing everywhere from hipster clubs in L.A. to folk festivals to street busking hoedowns. Their CD Samurai Over Serbia contains 13 tracks of all the above hybrids plus a few songs that some might describe as high-octane, gypsy bluegrass. Not sure if that makes any sense. But it’s definitely different … and pretty interesting music. Buy it at www.fishtankensemble.com.
— Dege Legg
2. WEAR A TIARA
If you’ve ever succumbed to the temptation to rubber-neck the road wreck that is America’s beauty queen culture, The Rhinestone Sisterhood (Crown Publishing — a fitting imprint) will have you from the first two words: Chelsea Richard. That’s Richard as in Ree-shard — a nerve-racked Cajun girl from the Acadia Parish countryside vying, in the opening pages of the David Valdes Greenwood’s new book, to be the next Frog Queen and reign beatifically over the annual Rayne Frog Festival. Greenwood’s tome, as the subtitle indicates, is a tour of small-town America as seen through the bejeweled eyes of its tiara-wearing femme fatales, and as the author notes early, “If you want to find America’s small town festival queens, the best place to look is Louisiana.” Acadiana’s queens of crawfish, cattle, buggies and mayhaws populate this fun, funky celebration at the nexus of blind ambition and heavily rouged discomfiture. The Rhinestone Sisterhood retails for $25 and is available at most book sellers and on-line. — Walter Pierce
A year ago, Jeremy Broussard debuted his documentary film, Little Houses, about a mysterious and unique burial tradition of the Acadian settlers. Small, above-ground houses still stand in the Istre cemetery, the remnants of a folk tradition that once filled graveyards in Acadia, Evangeline and Vermilion parishes. Broussard’s film explored the lost tradition, and raised money and awareness to help restore the last three remaining grave houses. Expanding on his film, Broussard, along with photographer Gwen Aucoin, has produced a small book, Grave House Legends, which continues to explore the folkways and burial traditions of the Cajun people’s ancestors. Little Houses will screen Wednesday, April 21, at 6 p.m. as part of Soirees du Cinema at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Grave House Legends will be on exhibit as well, and can be purchased, $14.95, from TheLittleHouses.com, or at Amazon.com. Proceeds go toward the preservation and restoration efforts of the last three remaining Cajun grave houses.
— Mary Tutwiler
in case you missed it