Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys play Downtown Alive! tonight at Parc International for a special “Welcome Homes Marines” celebration for those coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Riley will be joined by special guest Geno Delafose. Riley grew up in the prairie town of Mamou where French is spoken on the street, the national holiday is Mardi Gras, and a poor family is one without a fiddler or accordion player. American popular culture was stealing Mamou’s children away when Riley took up the accordion and became his hometown’s favorite son. He plays a single-row diatonic instrument made by his cousin, famed accordionist Marc Savoy. Riley concentrated on learning Savoy’s fiery, intricate style and the music of the Balfa Brothers. At age 15, this young prodigy was noticed by Dewey Balfa, who invited him to join his band. Under Balfa’s guidance, he grew as a performer, learning hundreds of French songs and how to sing them in Balfa’s singular hurts-so-good style, and taking up the fiddle as well. In 1988, he and David Greely formed the Mamou Playboys, which rapidly gained prominence on the international folk scene without sacrificing the allegiance of Louisiana fans. In a land where accordion is king, Riley has inspired countless young men and women to follow him and keep Cajun music’s royal instrument alive. Be there tonight to witness the magic.

Downtown Alive! begins at 5:30 p.m. with food and beverage concessions. Musical performances start at 6 p.m. DTA is a free event sponsored by Cox, Lafayette Coca-Cola, and The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living.

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