Louisiana born Michael Doucet is best known as the founder and leader of the Grammy winning Cajun band Beausoleil. Doucet has twenty-five albums with Beausoliel, one with the band Coteau, five with the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, and one with the Fiddlers 4. Doucet is a fiddler who plays an eclectic mix of traditional Cajun music, New Orleans rhythm and blues, rock ‘n roll, zydeco, country and jazz; that he prefers to call Southwest Louisiana music. Doucet has twelve Grammy nominations including two wins, and has been awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from The National Endowment of the Arts; the highest honor one can receive in the folk and traditional arts.
This ancillary project originated during the 2018 Mardi Gras when Doucet found himself sharing a drink and conversation with a costumed young lady in a pink wig and dress. That girl turned out to be his future band mate. Doucet states “Lacher Prise” in French, means “Let go”. “It’s also a Buddhist term. When it came to making this music, it was just total freedom. The new songs were different from what I typically do, so we formed a group of great people and musicians”. The new band includes Doucet, fiddle, mandolin and vocals; Sarah Quintana, acoustic and electric guitar, lead and backing vocals; Chad Viator, guitars; Chris French, acoustic and electric bass; and Jim Kolacek, drums and percussion. Special guests include background vocalist Sarah Dugas (of The Duhks), keyboardist Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan), saxophonist Jim Hoke, and the strings of the Turtle Island Quartet. The album was recorded at The Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana.
The original opener “Water, Water” tells a story. Doucet says “We obviously have a problem with water in Louisiana, about three years ago there was a thunderstorm over Lafayette and the Parish, raining 24 inches in 24 hours. It flooded everything…my friends got flooded. The chorus just came to me. Quintana sings lead on another Doucet original “Dites Moi Pas”.
Doucet re-arranges two traditional fiddle tunes. He adds words to the French Caribbean rhythms inherent in “Abandonne”; and re-arranges “Chere Emelie”. My favorites are two more Doucet originals “Marie Catin” sung in both French and English; and “Cajun Gypsy” an instrumental featuring the Turtle Island Quartet with some classically influenced fiddle from Doucet. “Walking On A Mardi Gras Day” was co-written with Susan Werner.
Doucet continues “Some of the record is cerebral, but it’s got a different feeling overall”. “This is music we like to play, and we have a lot of fun doing it. We let the magic happen”. The band covers Boozoo Chavis’ “Lula Lula Don’t You Go to Bingo” and it’s a rollicking good time with Doucet’s fiddle and a call and response from Quintana. Also covered is Bobby Charles’ “He’s Got All The Whiskey” first recorded by Charles in 1972 and recorded by Bo Diddley two years later.
This is an infectious good time. Take it from Doucet when he says “All of the musicians are amazing. It’s not just my record, it’s ours. I have so much confidence in those guys and gal. Most of all, I hope everyone has as much fun listening to it as we did making it.” Guaranteed you will.