Frequently cited as the world's best Cajun band, BeauSoleil brought their infectious, up-beat, passionate Louisiana sound into Famous Dave's for a rolling good time. Their music has a happy, rich, hypnotic quality that draws you in to dance and celebrate life with them. Front man Michael Doucet uses his strong, expressive voice to tell stories in slow soulful ballads and fast, joyful expressions that you can understand on an emotional level even if you do not speak and understand Cajun all that much. Guitarist David Doucet provided some great flat picking on the fast paced opening instrumental that nicely complemented Michael's smooth, expressive fiddle playing. Their music is a mix of Cajun, country, and blues, with a little zydeco and swamp rock thrown in for seasoning. The band showed a tight, enthusiastic sound on "Louisiana Saturday Night." Michael has a strong, textured voice with a bit of a twang and good range.
Throughout their over two hour long show the band moved smoothly from upbeat, fast paced dance numbers for their many dancing fans to slow, soulful ballads and blues that gave the dancers a chance to get more up close and personal. Their many loyal fans peppered them with requests, many of which they graciously worked into their set. One gets the feeling that they might start with a general idea of what they want to play, and then they let the crowd, their own moods, and the spirit of the night carry them. Their original "Hurricane" moved the crowd, slowly building with the long, exceptionally soulful fiddle playing of Michael leading the way. The heavy beat from the rhythm section of Tommy Alesi on drums, Billy Ware on percussion, and Al Tharp on bass steadily increased the volume and tempo of their playing. Michael broke down his fiddle playing into short, jarring, abrupt riffs, backed by David on guitar and the high energy and great sound of Jimmy Breaux on accordion. Michael leaned back and bent forward, moving with passion as he fiddled. The sound definitely captured the power and wildness of a hurricane.
While most of the songs were sung in Cajun, there were a few in English, as was the excellent "Buck's Blues" in tribute to blues man Buck Johnson. This slow rolling country blues song featured nice grinding blues playing by Jimmy on accordion and low, soulful vocals by Michael. Michael's long, slow, raspy bowing on fiddle perfectly matched his sad, mournful lyrics. Jimmy even managed a rich harmonica-like sound on his accordion. The band closed it out with heavy, repeating riffs that reinforced the emotional power of the song. Throughout the night the band played a number of Cajun waltz numbers, which featured beautifully sung ballads by Michael and a smooth, rich, emotional instrumental sound by the entire band.
Their music is really all closely related to dancing, and here you have it all, from up-tempo country two steps, waltzes, blues grinders, and swampy rock you can dance to however you want. Their music has many influences, from traditional European classical to country to blues. But the BeauSoleil Cajun mix of music is pleasantly unique. They have many great original songs to mine from their 25 years of playing and recording. The band moves seamlessly from their own to covers and back again. This veteran band has solid instrumentalists throughout, starting with Michael on fiddle. They are a tight band with a sound only years of constant playing can give a band. Yet despite all of their success, they have a love and respect for their fans which shows how much class they have. If you want to go out to party, dance and celebrate the joy of live, no band gives you more to make it happen than BeauSoleil.
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