Lost Bayou Ramblers’ latest release is new in the old-fashioned way. By Dominick Cross • Photos by Robin May

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

LivingIND1For the Lost Bayou Ramblers, it is what it is and it can be heard on their latest release, Mammoth Waltz.

“It’s a brand new thing for us because we have never made a true studio album. We’ve always done our albums on-the-spot live. No overdubs,” says Louis Michot, front man and fiddler with Lost Bayou Ramblers. “And this album — we took all the time — we took a year and a half to really make it sound exactly like we wanted it to sound. And the results have been beyond what we thought we would be capable of doing,” Michot says, giving credit where it’s due. “And that all goes back to Korey (Richey, also on acoustic guitar with the band) being our producer. He’s from Egan. He’s like a country dude who happens to be one of the most bad-ass producers and engineers I’ve ever met.”

Michot says the band, which has been around since 1999, has been working on this, their seventh release “subconsciously for the last decade.” The Lost Bayou Ramblers are Michot, lead vocals/fiddle; Andre Michot, accordion/lap steel guitar; Cavan Carruth, electric guitar/vocals; Andrew Thomas Austin-Peterson (aka “Atap”), bass; Richey, acoustic guitar/electronics/samples; and Pauly “Deathwish” Etheredge, drums.

The Lost Bayou Ramblers play Festival International de Louisiane on Saturday, 7:15 p.m., on Scene Chevron, and Sunday, 3 p.m., as members of Bayou Teche’s LA 31, on Scene Malibu.

“All of our Cajun influences are very hardcore and raunchy. Most of them are thought of as very traditional — you know, Joe Falcon, Austin Pitre and Lawrence Walker — but they’re just real rock and roll-based Cajun music. And it’s not at all rock and roll,” says Michot. “It’s purely Cajun, but it’s a rock and roll band.”

Michot says Falcon in the 1950s and 60s was playing through “Fender twin amps” and that his (second) wife played drums. “They were just chockin’ loud, you know and it’s very raunchy and we love that.”

Michot explains chockin’ as “the one-drop rhythm of Cajun music,” and raunchy as: “Just loud and nasty. Not clean, not folky, not acoustic. Just real open-minded as in very creative with their tunes,” he says.

A lot of the buzz around Mammoth Waltz is about the musicians who sat in on the recording.

Cavan Carruth

It was through Richey, while engineering at Dockside Studio, that actresses Scarlett Johansson and Nora Arnezeder made the release. Taylor Guarisco and Kirby Campbell of the Givers also appear on Mammoth Waltz. And so does Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes.

Gano had joined the band on stage in New Orleans when the Ramblers played the signature riff from his song “Blister in the Sun” in the middle of their song, “Oh Bye.”

Gano plays with the band from time to time, and he’s also on the pre-released single “Bastille,” which is on Mammoth Waltz. “It’s really G-a-y-n-e-a-u-x, but they changed it to G-a-n-o,” says Michot, citing the musician’s French ancestry. “His sister lives in France, and we play one of her songs every time we play with him.”

Michot describes her song as “a beautiful Cajun waltz. She probably had no intention of writing it as a Cajun song,” he says. “And it’s the same song, but different lyrics that we play on Vermillionaire. It’s crazy.”

Dr. John also makes his cameo on the new release, courtesy of the Richey connection. Richey, Drew Landry and the folks at Dockside Studio were working on “Solution for Pollution,” a music project of the late Bobby Charles Guidry hoping to keep the subject front and center. Dr. John “and a group of all of us,” which includes Andre Michot, Chris Stafford, Phillippe Billeaudeaux, Michael Juan Nunez and Eric Heigel (Richey’s cousin) are on the album.

“So [Dr. John] recorded on our song while we were there doing that,” says Michot, who sums up the guest list as such: “They believe in what Korey is doing.”

As Cajun bands and Cajun music grow and push the one-time boundaries, especially by the younger ones, there’s not the criticism from traditionalists like there used to be.

“The old way was the new way back then,” says Michot. “The whole culture is much more diverse than the stereotype makes it out to be. We’ll never stop playing music. Hopefully this is the beginning of much more.”

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